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July 15, 2013

“You don’t need validation from anybody to solve your  problems ”

In my practice, I see young and  older people who have gone back to school, more specifically back to college. They are usually pursuing a college degree for which they have no idea what they  are going to with, except getting a better pay. Often times when I ask people in these situations just how much of a pay increase they believe they will receive, they report that they don’t know. Why? Because they haven’t given it much thought.
 Their game plan is simple, attain a college degree, let prospective or current employers know you have a college degree, then land a new and better paycheck doing work that may or may not mean anything to you. I call this validation bias. Validation bias is a mental condition where people have become culturally conditioned to believe that without validation from a recognized or perceived authority figure, that they are inept at taking any initiative towards solving their problems.
Here are some examples, an architect who can’t find employment, and ceases practicing his craft. An engineer, who can’t find work, and gets a job as a supervisor at a call center, making no efforts to capitalize on his trade, an accountant who can’t find work and is frightened by the idea of opening a small tax preparations practice, and the list goes on.
So how do people develop validation bias? Given that human beings are social animals, it stands to reason that validation bias develops within a sufferer’s community of origin. If you  grew up surrounded by adults who seldom exercised any measure of initiative, chances are it never occurred to you that you should aspire to become the captain of your own life.
Here are three signs that you may suffer from validation bias.

Ⅰ. Your plan for success involves how someone in a position of authority is going to recognize your hard work and reward you.

Ⅱ. You feel cheated when you have not been recognized or rewarded for your achievements.

Ⅲ. You have no clear vision for where you want to be, or what you want to be doing with your life in the next five years.

If two or all of these signs apply to you, then here are three steps to take towards liberating yourself.
Ⅰ. Practice taking a more pragmatic approach with anything you do or learn.

During my Masters program, I worked as a caseworker at a juvenile prison. Everything I learned in class and from research, I put to practice the next day I worked. I had a vision of myself as a competent professional, who was knowledgeable and able to help most people who approached me for help. I wasn’t terribly concerned about finding employment, (granted I was already employed) I just wanted to be really good at what I did.

Ⅱ. Make a list of your own issues, you need to start addressing.

The standards of living is the same for everyone, no one is more responsible for your well being and that of your children (if you have any) than you. This might seem like a strange concept to some, but then again if you find this concept strange it may not entirely be your fault. Through mass media, there seems to be this push for people to adopt a cultural mindset that grown men and women shouldn’t be entirely responsible for their well being. Issues ranging from health care provision for a person’s family to educating one’s child seem to no longer be considered a person’s responsibility but that of the government at large. The truth is, your issues are your responsibilities and no one else’s. The good news, is that if you are able to read and comprehend this post, you are capable of coming up with answers to your problems.

Ⅲ. Start coming up with reasonable  plans on how to begin addressing your  identified issues.

To date the best  approach I have found is to research someone who has experienced and successfully solved the same problems you are currently experiencing, such as finding love, building wealth, parenting, career, etc, and the list goes on. Granted while everyone is unique and you will seldom find the perfect out of the box approach, you can always work with a professional like myself to develop and implement the plan that works just right for you.

The irony about validation bias, is that people with this bias  are willing to work really hard for others they look up to, but unwilling to put in half the effort into  improving their own lives. To that I say, you are worth every effort you put into bettering yourself.
Thanks for reading, and please share this post with anyone you believe would benefit from reading it.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC a professional counseling private practice.

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