Jenny Brown (skywind8) wrote,
Jenny Brown
skywind8

Validation and Appreciation

Found some relevant reading material...

http://www.nexus.edu.au/teachstud/gat/eckhaus1.htm

Communication is the vehicle through which social relations are identified and established. ...

Gifted children often find great difficulty in developing an identity that follows the Socratic ideal of being true to one's self. Prevailing attitudes to parenting are inconsistent and gifted children are frequently misunderstood; their voices are silenced and their views are disregarded, or, 'muted' (Ardener,1975). Assumptions are made about gifted children that views them as a collective, minimizing their differences, when in reality each gifted child is unique.

A sense of worthlessness arises if, as individuals, our ideas and thoughts are considered to be of no value. Consequently, our self-esteem, plummets. Achievement is of little concern if it does not satisfy individual values and if it is unlikely to result in an enhanced sense of personal power. So, to the vulnerable gifted child, by invalidating their ideas we invalidated them and minimize their potential for achievement. Substituted for achievement, then, is a need for approval, a vigilance and sensitivity to criticism and a fear of rejection.


For example a gifted child explains to a parent specific problems at school. Standard response styles include patronising, judgemental and even ridicule. Most frequently the invalidating style is used with the result that the child is dismissed with a well-meaning 'don't worry'. Gifted children, as problem solvers tend, initially, to seek assistance exploring problems because whilst they may comprehend the nature of the problem they may lack either strategies and, or experience to resolve them. They seek management of their own perceived difficulties establishing a goodness-of-fit within the social fabric. In short gifted children are seeking psychological validation of their being and in dismissing the child's message a parent has effectively dismissed, and invalidated the child.

A key outcome of the growth of identity is the extent of individual self-esteem. ... The degree to which there is a need to protect, or defend our inner self will influence our external behaviour. ... Prolonged invalidation leads to formation of negative self-fulfilling prophecies but, also in the case of gifted children, it leads to the denial of success when it does occur.


I finally "get it" - I grok what initiated the feeling that I was never enough, not quite right, and not understood well enough to be loved ( loved: connected by a meeting of pure peer essence and deep mutual understanding; validated and authentic). In trying desperately to fit in by following the myths being tossed at me as a young child, I was increasingly in a situation that was more and more wrong for my real self.

This goes beyond adapting to teacher's requests that I quit learning so fast (which were annoying themselves but only a small part of it). It was also that my quite accurate perceptions of the problems around me were being disqualified as valuable, because since no adult had a solution, most didn't even want to hear what I said. I internalized the idea that my perceptions must be inaccurate, or I must be missing something, or my voice was unimportant and my thoughts and feelings didn't matter. I wasn't old enough to recognize that the problem was in the adults; I was still imprinting for my role as a child-learner where adults were a trusted source of knowledge. By the time I was old enough to possibly have the perception to recognize adult helplessness, I had already given up on the main problems of importance, and resigned myself to being the one nobody liked. I felt lucky if nobody noticed me, at least I wasn't harassed, but dang it's hard to take on the natural leadership positions without getting noticed.

There are many other layers that contributed... being told in kindergarten to "quit telling kids what to do, quit being bossy" while the boys who initiated group games were praised for their leadership.

Being told repeatedly by a teacher to quit reading ahead, stay with the class, quit answering all the questions, wait for the other students, and absolutely under no circumstances can you read in another subject during lecture. Building habit-triggers in myself to try to accomodate those teachers, by intentionally slowing down my learning as much as I could (it's disobedient and punishable to learn too much). Not realizing those habit triggers, initiated at age 6, were still active until I rediscovered them at 26.

Being told to "quit bragging" and "quit showing off" when I dared to mention that I was excited about taking the SAT in 6th grade, or that I was doing well in spelling bee, or practiced piano while guests were around. Being afraid to talk about anything as a result, and the blocks added to my verbalization ability, to avoid talking about my desires for fear of bad reactions.

Like any child I trusted the adults around me to give me a reasonably accurate perception of the world I needed to function in, and coping strategies to deal with it. As a teen I began to see it well enough myself to consider whether adult messages were accurate or not. But as I concluded that much of what I'd been told was wrong, just when I should have been turning inside for my own perception to replace it with, I instead found a severe internal crisis in that I had nothing inside to feel confident about. I knew that everything I knew was wrong, that I was wrong, but this left me nowhere to go. I spent about 5 years with crushing anxiety attacks as a result, which put a serious dent in my ability to complete high school effectively and cope with college.

I've had dreams in the years since recovering from panic attacks, dreams of doing high school over now that my emotions are stable. It's never college. College did not nurture me. IMSA nurtured my growth, and could have done so a lot more if I'd been emotionally stable coming in. It did help me emotionally and socially, in such tremendous ways I can't begin to put words to it. It was a critical part of fixing the broken conditioning of being a misunderstood gifted child. I definitely needed that. But I wish I could have gotten more out of it academically; I just wasn't ready emotionally. I needed IMSA to heal me first, and then I needed it a second time to build my education the right way. So I've had dreams about situations where I could go back, but in an environment meant to help alumni take their own goals a step farther. I don't see any way to make that practically work out, but the dream was a way for my mind to recognize a need for healing.

I want a mentor, an established professional, who really understands how to work with and challenge a gifted woman. I want to find someone who is sensitive to my rough early conditioning and the ways I'm still struggling to fix that; who nevertheless _expects_ me to excel and gives me the encouragement to do so.

I'm tired of keeping my engine on low, talents under lock and key, and hiding under the blankets besides. I want to cut loose and run full speed, no more holding back for slow kids, no more punishment for what I learn and blend together. I also want to be recognized and appreciated by someone who really SEES me, who understands how much I've been through and my craving for life and who can see into my soul.

And I want someone to fall back on for comfort when I take a daring risk and it doesn't go as planned. I'm tired of "well you shouldn't have taken the risk at all" - that's a stupid way to live. I can tolerate a bit of discomfort if people don't get all freaked out overprotective or discouraging. But at least for a while yet I need to discover/feel a sense of validation at who I am, what I think, what I want, and how I'm steering my life. I will be who I am regardless - nobody can change my identity by pressure - but I will certainly be happier if I can settle into friendships where I'm known and loved for it not in spite of it.
Tags: gifted, needs/feelings
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