Internal and external validation: Do you know when you are doing a good job or do you rely on others telling you that you are?
In my experience, many riders don’t trust themselves and, therefore, keep looking and craving other people’s praise.
This in itself is not a bad thing, it just becomes hard when you are in the wrong environment or the people around you have ideas that are different to the ones you have.
Craving external validation generally means that we are not sure and we don’t trust ourselves enough. Thus, we look for confirmation from others.
This is where craving external validation can come up;
- when we are part of a group like in an agistment property, riding club or social group,
- at competitions or clinic situations,
- on social media.
This is why we crave external validation;
- To fit in and be accepted in a group,
- to feel that we are improving and succeeding,
- to show our knowledge and experience.
And this is why we need to change from craving external validation to developing internal validation;
- we can never please others or we sacrifice ourselves in the process,
- we need to measure improvement and success by comparing where we have started and how far we have come. You are the best judge of that.
The more we know the more we realise how much there is to learn. When we share our knowledge to freely and openly we generally don’t feel confident that we know enough.
In our sport, there is seldom a clear right and wrong, instead, there are many different ways to approach the riding, training, competing and care for a horse.
This means it is nearly impossible to ‘please’ others around you in order to earn their praise.
We all look for something that is just a bit better then the last time, just a bit more detailed than the previous experience and just a bit more knowledgeable then the other person.
And there we have it… nothing ever seems good enough to us if we focus on instances when;
- someone else disagrees and has a different opinion,
- the judge found something to criticise and comment on,
- the remark given earned criticism and we are made out to be wrong.
When we try and please others we end up getting hurt sooner or later. Not because someone else intentionally hurts us, but rather because of the different opinions we receive.
So, what can you do?
- Learn to trust yourself then learn to ask for help.
- Choose the people you ask and learn to ignore the help you didn’t ask for.
- Understand that there is no ideal 100% score and that there is always something to improve.
- Accept that your best effort is good enough but never perfect.
It is your job to acknowledge yourself not someone else’s. It is up to you to pat yourself on the back and celebrate your achievements.
Focusing on your achievements rather than dwelling on your mistakes develops confidence.
Evaluate your success before you ask for other peoples feedback.
Success is not a destination it is a journey of discoveries. And, when someone says something that you feel hurt-by, give them a hug and let it go.
Happy riding everyone!
We recommend Tanja Mitton’s latest book:
Tanja’s article about internal and external validation was published in Horses and People Magazine November-December 2018 print issue magazine.