I haven’t written a volleyball story in a while. For those of you new to my blog, our daughter is a volleyball player. She is very committed to her sport and plays year-round. Not only do I love watching her play, I love watching the life lessons that come from a team sport and often the lessons I observe her experiencing spill over into my blog posts. And today is no different.
The high school volleyball season recently wrapped up and now we are on to club season. While our daughter loves playing for her school, she faced some challenges this year with her coach that she has never experienced before.
You see, our daughter is a pleaser. It is something we identified in her very early on and is a characteristic that greatly impacts her relationships and her motivations. I can go into all of the pros and cons of being a pleaser but that’s not really the point of this discussion. It is what it is and that understanding just gives us greater insight into how she operates and how to guide her.
Back to volleyball. Our daughter is a pleaser and felt throughout the school season that it was impossible for her to make her coach happy. This perception crushed her spirit to the point that she pretty much lost all confidence and on top of that, her love and passion for the game. (This statement is not in any way an opportunity to blame the coach – it was my daughter’s perception, not necessarily the truth.)
It became so bad – her loss of confidence and love of the game – that she stated that she wasn’t going to try out for club this year. She said she felt really burned out and thought she needed to sit out a year to figure out if she still loved the sport enough to pick it back up again next fall. She stated that her coach took her joy for the game away from her and she needed some time to see if she could get it back.
As a certified life coach, I was pretty empathetic. I mean the kid has only had three weeks total away from volleyball in the past year. It’s really easy to see how she could be burned out. So, I was pretty empathetic until I heard “she took my joy for the game away from me.” What? No one can take joy, peace, love, happiness, etc. away from anyone. You give it away. People don’t take it away. We have a big issue here. Why in the world did my daughter feel she was powerless to keep her joy? Why did she feel someone else had the power to give and take those things from her? Clearly, she has not been paying attention to my ramblings over the years!
The more I think about the situation, the more I believe this is about her lack of ability to self-validate instead of her willingness to give her personal power to someone else.
From a very young age, we are told not to pat ourselves on the back. That to celebrate and congratulate ourselves is the truest sign of an egotist. And while this is true to a certain extent, self-validation is a healthy and important part of empowerment and a positive mindset.
In reality, most of us have lost the art of self-validation. We don’t want to appear full of ourselves or to have huge egos. So, instead, we seek validation from others – especially if you are a pleaser or if “significance” is at the top of your list of basic human needs. Needing others to validate us is dangerous because it does give our power to others. It does allow others to determine our worth, our joy, and our happiness.
If self-validation is a lost art, then it means it can be found again. It all begins with a conversation in the mirror. Combat any self-limiting or damaging thoughts by speaking the opposite to yourself in the mirror each morning or each time you pass one. For instance, if you seek validation for your public speaking skills then self-validate in the mirror. “I am an engaging public speaker. I am a frequently sought-after speaker.” Simple right. In our daughter’s case, it might have been, “I am a good volleyball player. I had 12 kills in our last game and served 5 aces. My teammates appreciate the effort I make on the court.”
It may seem kind of cheesy to start this way but we all have seen the scientific research around the power of positive thoughts. Being able to self-validate is as important to us as teenagers/adults as it is for infants to learn how to self-soothe.
The great thing about this technique is that it spills over into other areas of your life. Start a new habit of congratulating yourself in all areas of your life on a daily basis. Take the time to recognize when you’ve done something well or you’ve made an impact or made a good decision (like to not have that piece of chocolate after lunch).
The next time you feel like someone has taken your joy, happiness, peace, love, etc. away from you, ask yourself this. Ask if you feel this way because you’ve given someone the power to take them away (you’ve gone into victim mode) or if you feel this way because you are seeking validation. If the answer is validation, then take a few moments each morning in the mirror to work on self-validation. Not only will it manifest in the immediate area of concern, it will manifest itself in all areas of your life.