Are Eric Decker and Jessie James using public displays as strategies for validation? If you are a Broncos fan or a country music fan, you probably know that this famous couple appear in a racy spread for GQ magazine. You probably also know that this isn’t their first appearance in the public eye.
Eric plays football for the Denver Broncos. Jessie is a country singer. From the beginning, their relationship has been on public display. They are even stars in their own reality television show. In an interview with Channel Guide Magazine, Jessie shares:
” We didn’t want it to be some trash show with drama, throwing things and being mean to one another because that’s not real life and we’re not like that. We are really happy people and we really are madly in love with one other so we just wanted to showcase that and how we juggle both of our careers. It’s pretty realistic with what’s going on, there’s really nothing fake about the show, and that’s really what we wanted to make sure happened.”
Why Do They Have Strategies for Validation
The truth is we all need validation. It makes us feel like we belong, we are loved, and that we are important. Looking at Eric and Jessie, it is clear that they seek validation by the public. It is also clear that they probably have been doing this for a good part of their lives. Strategies to meet needs, such as validation, are most often created in childhood. It’s not hard to imagine that when Eric played well, he received a lot of positive feedback; or when Jessie sang, she was applauded. Your strategies for getting your needs met can be healthy or unhealthy. Your unconscious mind doesn’t really distinguish between good or bad strategies; it uses what works.
Unhealthy Strategies vs Healthy Strategies
The most important source of validation should come from yourself. From very early on, perhaps even before birth, you begin to get signals that validate you. You belong. You don’t belong. You are loved. You are not loved. You are connected. You are not connected. The first people in your life that begin sending you this information are your caregivers. As we mature, we learn what to do to receive validation. When your parents model and guide healthy or unhealthy ways to meet needs, such as validation, you begin creating strategies. For example, Jessie may have learned that when she performed she received a lot of attention, and when she performed well she received even more. This is validation. Is this an unhealthy strategy?
If performing is the primary way a person receives validation, it is probably not the best way to meet your needs. Why? It doesn’t feel real. If you only receive attention when you do something funny, what about all the times when you don’t want to be funny? If you only receive validation when you are kind, what about those moments when you just want to be alone? What you, me, and every other human being truly desire is to be accepted all the time; not just when we do something cute, kind, or sexy.
The Best Validation is Self-Validation
Self-validation can be taught to you at a very young age. Your parents can model this for you, if they are able. They can guide you. For example, when a child comes home from school crying because her classmates told her she was ugly; how you handle it can be the difference between them creating a healthy strategy or not. Some parents may react by taking their child out and buying them cute dresses, fixing up their hair, or even applying make-up. While this in of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing to do; if it is the only response, your child may adopt physical appearance as a strategy to meet her need for validation. However, if a parent responds by explaining to their child that you can see beauty in everyone and everything if you choose to look, and that the most important thing is how she feels about herself not what others think, then she is on her way to creating a strategy that meets her need for validation through introspection. You want to validate yourself by accepting yourself, and most importantly, making choices that honor you and those you care about. We all have unhealthy strategies to meet our needs. It’s normal in the world we live in.
What Do You Do if You Have Unhealthy Strategies
The first thing to do is accept it. Acceptance is the first step to reprogramming those unhealthy strategies into healthy ones. The next step is to be aware of what events or things trigger it. Practice being conscious during those moments. Identify the feelings associated with the triggers and let them go – breathe them out. Finally, choose to respond rather than react. For example, if Eric awakened one morning and felt disconnected or like he didn’t belong, he could choose to do some self-care rather than go on public display. Self-care is great self-validation. I do nice things for myself because I matter.
The process of turning habits that don’t really serve our highest good into choices that do is not easy. If you have been sent messages that you are only important when you do certain things or live a certain way or sent messages that you are not important at all, the process can be long and painful. Painful because you have to acknowledge and release the pain to get it out of you. Imagine you were told you were worthless, and that feeling you had when you heard it was a brick. You are holding that brick until you process it and let it go. After holding the brick for an hour, your arm starts to get tired. After a day, it is excruciating. Everyone tends to hold the brick way too long, sometimes for decades before letting go of the pain associated with invalidation.
I suspect that Eric and Jessie rely on their public image to meet their need for validation. Are they using unhealthy strategies for validation? Only they can answer that question fully and accurately. The test is simple: if they feel validated when they are not adored and placed on a pedestal then it’s probably fine. However, if they “need” to act in a certain way or look a certain way to feel validated then it’s most likely unhealthy.