06/23/2015 03:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Escaping the Need for External Validation


As a coach I spend much of my time contemplating what living 'a joyous life' is all about.

I often ponder whether a joyous life has anything to do with external experiences and achievement. Recently I find myself mainly concluding that nothing can give you true joy apart from dedicated internal empathy and self-compassion. My issue however is that I struggle to fully live this notion. Throughout life I've found myself in a 'chase,' moving forward to get the next external 'win.' When I reflect back I can see moments of financial security, good grades, success at interviews, but the good feeling is always short lived, a momentary peak. I can see how throughout life I've lived the same pattern, I've experienced a high due to external validation, and then I've gone back to a place of scarcity, back in battle to get the next acknowledgement.

I'm at a point now after several years of self-development that I have that awareness, I can see the pattern I've engaged in. Chasing validation, gaining it, quickly losing it and getting back into the race is something I've done repeatedly up until this point. So the next piece is choosing to change, choosing to change for the sake of living a joyous life.

For me the change starts with imagining I have two minds: a conscious 'extroverted' mind, and a subconscious 'introverted' mind.

My extroverted mind is very analytical, very heady, a strategist, a practical force. My introverted mind is the part of me that feels, that connects to the beauty of the world, what's possible, what I love, my compassion and empathy. My introverted mind is an ocean of possibility. My extroverted mind, although very useful in a crisis, and the part of me that ensures I get up, get out and make plans, is the part of me that focuses on that external validation and can actually constrict who I am.

My extroverted mind focuses on three main areas:

Money concerns
How 'successful' my business is
What I look like

My extroverted mind is louder than my introverted mind, and obliterates it most of the time. I find myself making decisions and navigating my days from the perspective of worry about money, success and appearance. Basically my extroverted mind puts me in a place of fear.

My introverted mind knows there is a plethora of potential for me, a million ways to feel fulfilled and happy and free and peaceful. I connect to my introverted mind through meditation, mindfulness, coaching, when listening to certain music or seeing certain images or films. I know when I'm connecting to my introverted mind because anything seems possible, the walls come down, I can do anything and I don't feel overwhelmed by that fact. I feel full of breath, clean, alive.

So I have a vast expansive introverted, sub conscious mind that can lead me to wall-to-wall peace and joy in my life. And I have a sort of 'gate-keeping' conscious extroverted mind that has a louder voice and a lot more persuasive experience.

And so here I go, trying hard to change the balance of power in my own mind, for the sake of living a joyous life.

A technique I recently learnt is a simple meditation process. I imagine breathing in clear, clean air and breathing out dark smoke. Clean clear air on the in breath, and dark smoky air on the exhale. This simple process takes me away from those three concerns of my extroverted mind. This simple process helps me to be still, to focus, to be present to what's here. The simple act of stopping and taking in everything that's here right now offers up an immense sense of freedom. The 'chase' to be thinner, richer, more successful in business, becomes almost laughable. When I connect to the pure potential of my introverted mind those concerns shrink in importance, and I feel like I'm an escapee bird, flying away into infinity. That, is the life I want to experience, that, is the way I want to navigate through this world.

I hope now I emotionally, spiritually and physically start moving towards a life lived from my introverted mind. I want to live life in a place of pure potential, rather than existing in a heady space of fear. I want to be a free bird. I want to live a joyous life.

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