Welcome friends to Episode #117 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. Our identity and accomplishments in this world are often tied to what others believe is worthy. We are looking for happiness in the approval of others. This is completely normal, yet there comes a time when you feel a bit lost in the sea of the world around you. How do you cut the ties of external validation when it stops serving you? Does it serve us? This is exactly what we will cover in today’s podcast.
This past February I led a Spiritual Achiever retreat on Healing & Embodiment. One of the intentions from that retreat was to cut the ties of external validation. When a retreat can have so many different objectives, why did I choose this one? I chose it because it guides so much of our subconscious. 90% of our actions are driven by our subconscious.
What you do when no one else is watching is one of the most important indicators of who you are as a person. Yet, so many achievers struggle with seeing themselves in a world where they don’t have the ties of society binding them. This is why you struggle with taking a new path or embodying a different identity. Without knowing who you are, you will struggle with deciding who you want to become.
Life sets us on many different paths. From the time we’re a child, we might have been told what’s good or bad. We might have been told what would happen if we chose certain paths. Whether all of those choices you made in your life are completely your own isn’t the question. The question is what would happen if you started living your life as if your current and future choices were your own?
What it doesn’t mean is running away or abdicating your responsibilities and this world. I remember when I set off on the path to figure out what I wanted to do next in my career, there were real life considerations and consequences. Having a family to provide for, bills to pay and a partner who I was on this journey with meant that I didn’t just do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. I had to bring people along on this journey with me.
Many times when we cut the ties of external validation, we think it means rebellion. It means anger and fear directed towards the thing that is holding us back. That thing could be society, your parents, your partner, friends, family or a system. Yet, the Universe is not the one that dictates whether the situation in front of us is good or bad – we decide. The partner who is holding us back may just be showing us exactly what we need to do to bring them along on this journey. The bills you have to pay might create the ability in you to make more money doing what you love or simplify your life even more. The family who tells you what you’re doing isn’t going to work is showing you what to solve for.
Cutting the ties of external validation also means that you don’t let your circumstances in life, which include all of the noise around you – derail you. If you let life happen and accept that this is your life, then all these situations – no matter how tough in the moment – will serve you.
External Validation as a Problem Solving Tool
External validation stops becoming about approval and more about problem solving. When you start to shift into a problem solving mode, you become more innovative. You create. You rise above the situation. What I always teach my clients is that there are many paths for them to take from any problem. We take the path that shows us why this problem isn’t a problem. It seems like a paradox if you are in the first order of thinking which is immediately jumping to judgment.
Judgment lies in the land of external validation. If you want to untie yourself from external validation, you must question your judgment of people, places and situations. You do not need to armor yourself with status, titles and possessions unless you think you need to.
Healthy External Validation
If you decide that you need to bolster yourself because you want to raise your standards for how you show up in the world – and it serves you – then you have cut the ties of unhealthy external validation. You’re allowed to dress better, be healthier, buy things that help you, and educate yourself. We do live in a community with others so you being respectful to other ways of living can still be what you desire.
You are doing whatever you are doing because it serves you. This is healthy. Other people’s opinions aren’t all bad. They also aren’t all good. How do you distinguish between the two?
Unhealthy External Validation
When you resent having to be a certain way in this world you haven’t cut the ties of unhealthy external validation. You think you need to be someone or something you don’t want to be because of someone else. This way of thinking drives stress and instead of us accepting that other people or society has different ways of thinking or being – we resist. When we resist, we move forward with a lot of unease and force – which creates unhealthy bodies and minds. When we accept and move forward with flexibility, we utilize the momentum of what’s already happening around us – and this creates a healthy sense of resilience and strength.
The problem becomes opportunity. The ties that bind become what strengthens us. In a world where there is no shortage of other people’s opinions, what if you used it to your advantage? I remember when I was thinking about doing my masters in psychology instead of business and my mom said offhand, “Asian people don’t go to psychologists.” It stood out to me as a reason why I shouldn’t do psychology. In my more fearful moments later, I blamed the world and her for why I didn’t go down the path I desired. External validation was a choice but I didn’t see it at the time. I thought it was just the way things were.
Yet, I went on to do my MBA and have experiences that shaped, challenged and changed me for the better. I now serve lots of people and professionals including Asians. Asian people not going to psychologists is no longer a problem – it’s why they would want to talk to a coach. It’s why this work is needed. In one of my first sessions with my first coach – they pointed this out to me, without me prompting it. She said to me that I would likely serve Asians.
Life was giving me the perfect problem. The drive I had to succeed became something to be understood. This launched my research into Spirituality in the Workplace. This created what I call Spiritual Achiever™. I now know it is not solely from being Asian, but about this achiever mentality as a whole – was what I would coach people on. In the moment, I was so lost in my own sea of fear and indecision that I didn’t see that every single problem and struggle I faced was exactly what I would teach.
We often think that the way things are is so ingrained in our psyche that we can never get past it. The way we were raised, what we were taught. What if you didn’t have to get past it? What if you mined the ties you have for the gold that exists?
This is what it looks like to be in the world, but not of the world. You don’t get to choose where you were born, who you were born to, what they told you and what other people say or think about you. Many things that the world will show you are unkind, unjust, not true and not fair. Yet, many of the things that the world will show you are kind, just, true and fair. We don’t need to abandon the world to find these things. We just need to stay with the world long enough to find the contrast. If you’re struggling to see the hope, joy or freedom that could exist – it may feel impossible to believe that this other side is true. Yet, your struggle and the misery you feel is exactly why you know deep down that a contrast exists. You wouldn’t struggle if you didn’t think there was something different or better.
If you decide to work with me, this is what we will discover together. How your story and your struggles will be exactly what you need to start living that second, third or fourth act of your life. That next career, relationship and level of health is going to be drastically different in the best way.
I teach you how to mine your life for gold to understand what ties you want to keep and which to sever. You will begin to use energy management techniques to serve you in the moment when you struggle with big personalities, indecision and fear.
When you want to abandon, fear or run away from the world – we will work together to find new energy and excitement. We will lean in when others are most fearful. This is your time. I hope you will join me.
That’s it for this week. Have an amazing one and I’ll talk to you next time.
If you want to learn how to navigate your career and life with more confidence in your decisions, reach out at https://mayempson.com/contact to schedule a consultation. It is the next step to learning more about whether or not coaching is right for you. In our coaching together, you will simplify your life, create more freedom of choice and learn how to live in the present moment.