I need to clarify the title of this post because it is not about literally kicking a puppy. It’s an expression for the point I want to make.
A friend and I coined the term “puppy kicking” when talking about those of us who seek approval from others. This can be approval from our friends, family or colleagues who we seek recognition or validation from, but who ultimately let us down.
Validation is not a bad thing. It helps encourage you when you’re having a bad day and with the simple phrase of “nice job” or “I missed you,” it can bring someone totally around. And, it’s fast and easy to do. But some of us, or our parents from another generation, are not always the best at doing that.
After my dad remarried, I threw myself at my stepmother to have her recognize me as more than a stepchild. I wanted her to feel the same pride in me that my dad does and include me as part of the family. But the more I tried to win her attention, through trying to cook dinner or take an interest in things she liked, the more I felt left out or like I was trying too hard. Rather than say “you did a good job on…” it was more of what I didn’t do right and I would feel defeated.
But every time I go home, I still work to earn her approval, like a wounded puppy lured back to the steal-toed boot, begging for more.
I’ve found the “puppy kicking” theory doesn’t apply as much to work or friend situations because you can be more honest with them because, well, you’re not related to them. But family is harder, those rejections and recognitions can hurt more than anything else. I would assume it’s the same from a boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.
Many of my friends who claim they don’t go back for a “puppy kick” anymore too, I’m sorry but they’re wrong, just like I am when I say that. It’s a human emotion, as long as you don’t let the validation you may not receive rule your life. Look for the validation and recognition you want in the small things because there is always someone who appreciates you and what you do.
I go home again in a few weeks and I’m sure I’ll be up for a puppy kick. But I don’t let it wound me as much as it used to.
So I don’t know if there is a question out there for everyone but I guess I can ask, do you identify with my “puppy kicking” theory? Or how do you deal with situations where you want to be recognized and aren’t for one reason or another?