Would we rather be validated than work on our stuff?

I’ve observed many people online reaching out from a deeply lonely place, looking for connection. Pouring out their personal story, waiting with bated breath — will anyone respond, will anyone care?

Learning to ask for help is crucial. Many times before, we may have acted like everything’s fine, when it’s not. There’s not a single one of us who’s not felt scared or alone or misunderstood. It’s part of our human experience. We might feel a huge sigh of relief when at least someone ‘likes’ our FB post or offers compassion. And many of us will reach out when others are hurting to offer a loving sentiment.

 I wonder though, what happens after that?

Unfortunately, momentary online validation does not change the fact that we might still decide to stay in a dysfunctional marriage, we might still be unwilling to set boundaries with a narcissist, we might still internalize the hurt of being ostracized by our family.

 Perhaps a moment of kindness gives us temporary strength to carry on, but what if it actually prevents us from facing our stuff?

What if that temporary ‘feel good’ holds us back from looking honestly at our life and taking the first step forward?

 I know all about inner procrastination.

I chose to be in a dysfunctional marriage for 20 years. I chose to participate in a toxic family relationship for longer than that. I hid from the truth, I used escapism, I blamed others for my problems. I sought attention; you see it’s so easy to confuse attention with true connection.

I’ve since come to understand that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.

Most of us never received any formal training on relationships, the very first relationship course I ever attended was at age 41. If our parents before us and our grandparents before them were never taught healthy skills, then many of us learned through trial and error. A long and bumpy road.

I’ve spent the last 5 years looking deeply at my stuff, getting clear on what I want, what I need, and what I have to give in relationships. Facing things that I didn’t want to see. Patterns I was choosing over and over. Making painful decisions to leave relationships that were not good for me.

 Breathing in freedom when they were done.

Realizing it is only when I act on my own behalf that I am truly expressing my authenticity. It involves owning my choices and taking responsibility for my own happiness.

The biggest gift I give to others is to do my own inner work.

And allow others to gift me by doing their own work.

*This post originally appeared on Medium.com, click here to follow my latest posts…