Self-acceptance and self-validation, terms that seem to have been forgotten in today’s world. We are taught to behave, speak, and function in certain ways, and if you think about it, our own thoughts are intimidated by our perception of societal judgments.

Why express a thought if we know we will be rejected for it, why accept a feeling if we know we will be judged for it, why think outside the box when challenging your leaders won’t help you climb the ladder.

How to fit in goes beyond a sense of belongingness in society, it goes beyond fitting in with co-workers, it goes beyond agreeing with your friends and family, it starts within, it starts with self-reflection and acceptance of who we are, at our core essence, regardless of what that means to others.

“I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.” (Charles Horton Cooley, 1902)

Written over a century ago yet today, seems to have more relevance than ever. Recognition seeking starts at a very early age and is an expected developmental process. Children look up to parents for self-validation, to learn from right or wrong, and to celebrate accepted behaviours, but where do we draw the line between skepticism and dogmatism…

There is no shame in needing reassurance but there should be no need for external acceptance. If you are being judged or questioned for your own preferences, and if you are being smirked at or told that what you’re doing is irrelevant, anger can help but try curiosity instead. Think of the last time you’ve judged someone, think of the last time you’ve made unnecessary comments about someone, and think about how you felt at that time. Judging others often comes from a place of threat and insecurity, when someone is threatening a part of ourselves, a value, or a need, as a coping mechanism we use judgmental thoughts and comments stemming from strong and secure places within, to help secure this vulnerable inner part of ourselves that seems to be scared.

Using this perspective allows us to understand the impact, not only others have on us, but the ones we have on others. Social media has taught us to share and wait for approval, to wait for reassurance, to wait for belongingness, but what if today that did not matter, what if today you shared for expression. What if today you shared to be heard and seen as you truly are, no filters needed. Today, that is self-love, a concept that will bring less google results than how to lose weight or how to lose a life, and if reading this post made you google this term, then we are one step closer at bringing awareness to something that should be innately present.

The next time you are being judged, remember, in this moment, you are a threat to some internal insecurity, remind yourself as to why you did what you did, remind yourself of what it is that brought you here today, and remind yourself that whatever decisions you’ve made, even if today it may seem off, at the time, in that moment, given all factors involved, that is what felt right.

Written by Christelle Choueiry