Hello there and welcome. Now what I call internal external validity and what you call it may be two different things so let’s start off by answering the question. What is it?
When you need to make a decision or take some sort of action in your life so you just think it through yourself and make a decision or do you need to search for a story to go along with your decision. Something that you can feel comfortable telling someone to justify your decision. E.g. You want to buy a new shirt but you have put yourself on a budget (from spending too much money last month), to justify buying that new shirt to make up a back story; something like it was one sale and you saved money or you needed it for some upcoming event.
If you are making up stories (either for your own benefit or for someone else s) you are seeking validity. Internal validity from yourself and external validity from someone else.
Follow me on a though experiment. Let’s take a long hard look at some things going on here. Buckle up.
Do you Follow, Lead, Manage or Spectate your own life?
Your actions will be a very key indicator of how you view yourself. Do you follow the pack, lead your group, manage people reactions or sit back and spectate everything going on in your life.
Followers will gain their own sense of worth by conforming to the group. They create no value and might as well be a sheep.
Leaders seldom stop to consult others when a decision or action has to be made. They do; and if the group follows them that is OK but not required.
Managers react to the groups reactions. Unlike leaders, they don’t have the backbone to steer the group into a new direction.
Spectators (aka critics) do nothing more than sit back and throw stones. Don’t be a spectator. Life is too short and too valuable.
Responsibility and Accountibility
All this talk about internal and external validation brings me to an important topic. The difference between responsibility and accountability. If you have ever pondered the difference before, congratulations. Most people will use the two terms independently and never take a break to think about either meaning.
In this context responsibility is a word to explain the internal thoughts going on. i.e. you hold yourself responsible.
Where, accountable is an external though process. i.e. someone else holds you accountable.
Of course all this talk about group think and conformance and responsibility paints a pretty bleak picture if you fall on the wrong side of the ledger.
Why is it so bad to be a conformance who lacks responsibility and still finds enough backbone to criticize everything and everyone?
It is because you can never be a fully autonomous adult without your own independence of emotions. Independence isn’t just about where you live or how you pay your rent but also about your own ability to think freely and independently.
Do you see the world as Black & White or a Multitude of Grey?
Children see the world in black and white (or right and wrong) because they have not built the emotional intelligence or experienced life long enough to see life isn’t made up of one fairy tale followed by the next.
When I say black and white, I mean right and wrong. Every decision you make, whilst being mostly right will still be some negative effects and hence will really be a shade of Grey somewhere between right and wrong (white and black).
Here is an example for all the non-believers. The decision to be made is: Do you take the family out to an expensive restaurant for dinner tonight. Your son really loves the restaurant but your daughter has been put onto a strict diet (by the doctor due to her diabetes). People who see the world in black and white will choose their favorite child and take sides. I hope you can see the need for shades of Grey now.
I see a lot of parallels between people building common sense and seeing the world as various shade of Grey (with very little black and white).
How well do you know yourself?
We all have those list of pet peeves; the things that really tick you off and make you blow your fuse. Sometimes they are things, sometimes they are people. Who am I to judge!
Have you ever taken an objective look back onto one of your meltdowns and tried to figure out just what was going on in your head. It is an exercise you do in a lot of self-improvement courses and some better parenting courses. What you learn is a very powerful metaphor which will give you a whole new frame of reference to gauge your reactions from.
I am making this analogy up as I go so feel free to share with me any better ones you can dream up.
Here goes: Imagine that nurturing and growing an adult human all the way from birth is just like building a house.
Certain things need to be done in the correct sequence and there is a team around it who need to have a certain set of skills for it to be perfect. Perfection is the end goal but time restraints, cost restraints and resourcing restraints require constant attention to achieve the goal.
Time restraints mean that not enough care and attention will be put into building the house.
Cost restraints means that the fundamental building blocks of the house will be shaky.
Resourcing restraints mean that some original functionality planned for the house never gets built.
As more and more restraints lead to more and more shortcuts along the course of building the house cracks will appear in the floors and in the walls.
Whilst the house will be finished and meet most of its’s functionality some cracks will be obvious to everyone and some cracks will be hard to find (only coming to notice at distinct times).
So how does this analogy help?
Every time that something happens in your life and you experience some negative emotions that is a crack becoming exposed. Here is an example:
John is married to Jane. John and Jane are constantly fighting about spending more time (or less) with Jane’s parents. When really analyzing the motivation behind his dislike for his mother-in-law John identifies that she is constantly insulting him and clearly doesn’t think he is good enough for Jane. Whilst John has known this for a long time he has never told Jane and instead of dealing with the actual situation at hand the crack appears instead. Of course on there is a second and third layer to peel away and then Jane has all her own cracks too but eventually with enough focus one can get to the root of the problem and unpeel all the layers of the onion. In this instance John grew up with a mother (no father) who never listened to him so he slowly adapted by just not share his thoughts (hence denying the problem). It took John several attempts and even took a few more fights with Jane on the subject to really get to the bottom of the situation. These things tend to be buried in your subconscious and taken some digging to unearth them.
I hope you can see the value in such a thought pattern. Quite often we deal with these cracks by masking them with other problems or projecting the issues onto someone else in hope they will take the responsibility of solving them.
Who or you Dependent on?
None of us live alone on an island in a state of full self-sufficiency but how often have you taken any steps to minimize your dependencies. Dependencies are the strings that will halt your self-improvement.
Usual suspects include dependency on government welfare, parents for money or accommodation, friends for entertainment ideas, perhaps the boyfriend for a car when you need it or girlfriend for food/ironing.
Each one of the dependencies create a knock on effect of freedoms that you can’t have. E.g. you rely on your parents for money and they will soon create a bunch of strings that come along with it.
What are you Dependent on?
Whilst the dependencies on people may be pretty obvious and to a degree somewhat unavoidable; What things are you dependent on?
Usual suspects included alcohol, drugs, internet, mobile phone, laptop, Facebook, google, sugar, coke or fast food.
Again each one of these dependencies will create an associated list of freedoms that you cannot have as a direct result. e.g. if you are addicted to Coke there are a bunch of personal freedoms to do with your health you will have to forfeit.
In this article we looked at a bunch restrictions people inadvertently place on themselves. These restriction build up and build up and will stop you from becoming the fully independent thriving adult that your parents wanted you to be. We also introduced a few thought experiments and a few concepts you can use to asses your current position then set a new path towards autonomy.
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