As I watched the elevator door close, my mind raced through memories of days gone by.. days that one may want to forget, and yet days that have molded me into who I am today.
For some, the walk down memory lane brings up a past that one may not want to recall. It is easy to go through life with an attempt to remember the good times, and to paint over the less optimal times. And, that really is an approach that is somewhat consistent with positive psychology, with an emphasis on what is working and an encouragement of the continued growth of what is working well.
And, yet, I realize that when there are wounds in the past that have not received what would be considered proper psychological “wound care” and left to fester and scar over, in an unhealthy manner, there can be consequences that are realized later in life.
In his article, “A Mere One Degree Difference,” Antone Roundy discusses the impact of being just a “little bit off.” This can be quite considerable. One of his examples includes the sun and being off by 1.6 million miles if you start out on your travels with just one degree “off.”
In the same way, missing the provision of love and validation, with a child, by just a small amount can create what I term, the “validation vacuum.” Simply not providing the validation that a child is “worthwhile” as a human being, can create such a vacuum that that child may spend the rest of their life trying to fill a vacuum that simply cannot be filled. It should not need to be filled because the reality is that it should not have existed in the first place.
By being “off” by what may seem to be a small degree, an adult can face insurmountable emotional and psychological mountains to try to overcome. They can find their scarred-over emotional deficits from years earlier and wonder where to start, in cutting them open and re-stitching the wound for optimal emotional health and recovery. These adults are left with a distorted view on what psychological health entails and that validation vacuum simply opens wider and wider, threatening to swallow them up and send them into oblivion.
The good news is that it is not an impossibility to set the course right, with a child. Children can be very resilient, but they are not immune to a removal of love and validation. So, if you are reading this, and you are a parent, my recommendation is love your child(ren). Let them know that they are loved unconditionally and that performance is not a requirement for love. Let them know that they have value, even by the fact that they are a living and beautiful creature. It really is that simple, and yet it is missed.
For those of you who already face that validation vacuum in your life.. learn to love yourself. I wish I could give you an “easy pill” that solves that for you, but as I watch the elevator doors open, and I arrive at my destination, I realize that there are some of us who understand because we have walked the road with you. There are some of us who are learning about wound care ourselves. Please, my friend, hold on, and know that you are not alone, and there can come a day when that validation vacuum no longer has a hold on you. I’m not going to end this with stating the cliche of “stay strong,” but I am going to ask that you persist, that each day you remember that you are loved and that this day is worth the living, and let’s walk together down this path called life.
With virtual hugs and loving you because you really ARE lovable,