“If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.” – Anonymous
“The greater your capacity to love, the greater your capacity to feel the pain.” – Jennifer Aniston
I’m in a reflective mood today. Perhaps even a bit nostalgic. You see, even therapists have real lives. I face the same things any other person faces: successes and failures, courage and fear, love and loss. We are all affected by the ebb and flow of life. None of us can or should escape from our feelings during changes in one’s life.
I have experienced a recent loss of a dear relative. I say this not to evoke sympathy, but to share the experience of love and loss. This individual was an accepting, loving person. Indeed, she was there for me when it seemed no one else was; when it seemed that there was no acceptance to be found, at one time in my life, even within myself.
She taught me a lot about acceptance of one’s self and one’s flaws. She conveyed important truths that though one may not understand why decisions are made and how, acceptance and love do not require that we understand all things. Acceptance and love require that we are okay with “not knowing” but being willing to let things unfold over time.
So often in life the drive for validation can be a terrible burden. It can derail relationships. It can create a distance or chasm between relationships that need not be there. Seeking validation from others can be a huge deception, because it puts an unfair burden on those who would want to love us anyway, and it keeps us from facing ourselves and growing into an acceptance of who we are.
The unrelenting drive for validation prevents one from being loved.
My aunt taught me that validation is not her job. That was my job. Her “job” was to be herself. Being able to accept one’s self enables you to love and accept others.
That was the lesson she taught by how she lived.
In the end, life is not how others value you, it is how you value yourself.
The most important lesson, the greatest challenge, with the sweetest reward.
RIP Aunt Pat.