As performers, there is a litany of ways we can get our validation externally. We live for the highs- audience reaction, likes on social media posts, compliments, recognition through review or feedback, being awarded particular roles or titles. It’s very easy for it to become like a drug. Let me be clear, these things are not bad in and of themselves, they are lovely to experience! (I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy them when things go well, or that I’m unaffected when they’re not) however when these become our building blocks, and the way we see ourselves, this is when it becomes dangerous. Fundamentally we give our power away, but also our joy and success becomes hinged on whether we can get what it is we are seeking from other people. We freely give away our locus of control, in favour of the approval of others thus redistributing our emotional well-being into the hands of others. It also means we are more likely to act from a self-interested place, rather than a place of authenticity and flow. It breeds unhealthy competition or an energy that is tense and has a slight hint of desperation (depending on how badly we need it.) Not to mention how awful we can feel if we don’t get what it is we’re seeking. Therefore, knowing how to validate yourself is the most important tool in your survival kit if you want to be an emotionally resilient performer.
Learning to love ourselves is an art form, as is resilience. And like all skills in life, they have to be worked at. It’s not a case of ticking a box, but rather an ongoing practise that requires refining and readjusting. We are constantly in a state of flux, mending old wounds and creating new ones. We are a mash up of every positive and negative experience we’ve ever had. And the truth is, not everyone will see your worth. But all of this becomes a hell of a lot easier when you start working on how to validate yourself. It’s kind of like whether you’re standing on land or treading water. If you’re in the water, things are always going to be rocky and you’ll struggle to stay afloat.
So what do you do when an audition or job doesn’t go the way you hoped? Or someone doesn’t tell you what you needed to hear?
Below are 7 ways you can cultivate your validation internally, and put the power back into the right hands-yours!
1. Tell Yourself What You’re Looking To Hear From Others.
Learning to self sooth is one of my ongoing lessons in life and the biggest key if you want to know how to validate yourself. The truth is, if we are reliant on hearing what we need from other people, our actions become approval driven; and most importantly any power we have is taken away. There will inevitably be times in life— both as an artist and performer, but also just within normal parameters where we won’t always get what we are needing. And given that we are constantly writing our own story, and our actions are based off what we tell ourselves, telling ourselves what we need to hear is one of the best ways we can safeguard ourselves.
2. Surround Yourself With Those That Build You Up.
Although we can’t always hand pick who we work with or what teachers we have, it is important to exercise what we can control, and choose our company wisely. It is necessary to have a good support system in place— those who have your back— who can mentor and assist your training positively, so knowing who to surround yourself with is key.
3. Notice Your Feelings And Then Do Something That Provides For That Need.
I think of feelings as promptings, almost like a call and response. Yes, sometimes there is nothing we can do and those feelings just need to be moved through, but always wherever possible if we can use an action to alleviate the discomfort we are feeling (positively) we can start to build new experiences and neural
4. Play Detective With You’re Thoughts.
Use your thoughts to tell you what you’re needing. Is it to feel good enough? To be understood by the people you’re surrounding yourself with? Clarity or direction in your career or goals? To feel seen? Once you know this, brainstorm ways you can create this for yourself. Knowing what it is you’re seeking is the biggest thing to practise recognising when wanting to work on how to validate yourself. Even if the end goal isn’t immediately within grasp, set yourself a step towards it with a goal to working your way up.
5. Go General
Ever seen someone so caught up in wanting a particular job? Maybe they audition 5 times and still don’t get it. Or, they never make it to the West End. It’s easy for these things to become all consuming. But it’s important to keep the overall goal and the passion behind that alive, rather than the vehicle of transit. For example, if you have your heart set on being in musicals- think about touring companies, or jobs abroad where musicals are a part of that. There’s always more ways than we think to achieve something, so keep the overall goal in mind and be flexible about the rest, rather than tying our validation down to whether we’re the right fit for a particular company.
6. Notice What Story You’re Subscribing To
Listen, we all have weaknesses and strengths, and it is good to know what they are, but make sure the words you’re using and telling yourself are building you up. Ultimately, we don’t have control over what other people say about us, but we can choose whether we take that on for ourselves, or whether we reframe things in a way that nurtured and cultivates us.
7. Have Good Boundaries.
Just because someone says a put down to us, or makes us feel a certain way that doesn’t mean we have to agree with them or take it. No one ever has the right to make you feel small, or not enough, or make their limiting belief about you truth, so learning to stand your ground when people try to put you down is key.
Mindset is something which we have to actively exercise, in the same way we do our craft. Much in the same way we do our tendus daily, or singing warm up, or clean our teeth, none of those things fall into place without active effort. If we didn’t do these things, we wouldn’t be in command of our craft or life any more and things would run riot. The same is true of the mind. So give yourself the TLC you need and don’t forget to look after the inner you on your journey. The you in 5 years will thank you for it 🙂
I hope this article has been helpful in learning how to validate yourself. Please feel free to drop me a question in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!