Recently I realized something really powerful about myself. I share this with a little fear, but also realizing that there are many that struggle from the same thing.
I realized that I have an empty void in my heart when it comes to being validated, especially by men. I have become really active this past year in the Mankind Project and after a recent weekend training as I was writing in my journal I realized the reason I love the Mankind Project is that it is filling the void in my heart that has been there for years.
I also realized that most of the men there are in it for the same reasons. For whatever reason we don't get that validation in our homes, works arenas, and yes even in our church families, we go through life needing to be validated, but never really feeling that we have value and never being validated in a way that helps us move forward.
At least that's my story. I grew up in a home were I never felt loved or needed by my father. Often times when we don't get that at home we can find it in other places, like school. School was not the place for me. I remember teachers watching as students kicked me down the halls and I remember teachers laughing as students told them I was a faggot, I hate that word, and needless to say I never felt validated in school for anything I ever did. I never remember a teacher telling me or even really talking to me in a positive way.
Most of the young men my age shunned me and stayed away. Those that were my kinda friends were in the same place I was, not strong enough on their own to help another. I was beat up frequently and shamed constantly.
My father a good man, grew up without a father and in all fairness to him I was totally out of his comfort range. He was a hard working cowboy and did not understand my softer, yes even more feminine ways. He could not validate something he could not understand. I did all I could to be validated by him. Cleaned the house from top to bottom almost every day, Worked hard and yes I even joined the football team. That was a disaster. We are very close now, but growing up I did not get what I needed from him in terms of being validated as a man.
I have found that in many cases when men are not validated in a positive way by men, they seek validation in other ways. From drugs, sex, pornography, abuse, and for me it was wall building and self shame.
I learned at a very young age to build walls up around my heart to protect it. My wall building like other ways men seek to fill the void has often times made life hard. It has hurt my marriage, I have a great wife and love her with all my heart, but I have to sadly admit I have at times kept her out of my heart. She is great and I admire her determination to make it work. Wall buiding has kept me from succeeding in things that I really want to do in life. One of the biggest things that has happened to me is that my walls keep me enclosed in a world of self doubt. The fear of failure is huge and I think it comes from the lack of healthy good solid validation in my life.
This past year has really been a growing experience for me as I have personally witnessed just how powerful validation can be. When a man looks at another man and tells him of his value it changes both men. The giver is lifted up and the receiver is strengthened and is able to move forward with a more solid view of life and himself.
In the Mankind Project validation is huge part of the training and words cannot express how powerful it can be and what it has done for my heart. I have been seeking for over 50 years the feeling of belonging and being accepted by men. My boy person never got that and so I grew up with a huge void.
I think and believe that as men we need to be more attentive to the validation needs of men around us, understanding that in our society men validating other men is probably one of the most powerful tools we can have and use.
I know I am not alone in the need to be validated. I know I am not alone in aching to be noticed and loved by those men around me that I admire and love. I am working on getting over my fears of rejection and learning to look beyond myself to validate those around me and to except the validation given to me.
It takes practice and effort and awareness to be able to reach out and lift those around us. From the work place to our church families and everywhere else in between there is a great need in our world for men who feel validated and men who can validate other men.
For me, it's been a life changing experience to be able to see my value from the efforts of good men that take the time to show me my value and take the time to help me see how my value can lift others.
Men, it's time to step forward and get over our fears of rejection and help each other see the value we have. I love being a man and I love men, especially men who have the courage to validate. Is there validation ahead for you? Is there validation ahead for those in your path?
Feeling validated, Brad