Are my feelings ok?
The dictionary defines val·i·date as:
The word, valid, immediately reminds you of a driver’s license, passport, college ID or at the most a gift card from your favorite store.
How many of you straightaway thought… you, me or our relationships?
When we think of what we can do to nurture our relationships, we often think of tangibles. Allow a free dinner for the office team, have the florist send a bouquet off on your mother’s birthday, buy a new toy for your kid or buy your significant other a new perfume. While all of these things certainly won't hurt your relationships, they aren't necessarily the strongest ways to connect with the ones who are important to you.
How often have you witnessed the death of a relationship simply because in the equation of two, one did not feel valid-ated.
- A mother who surrenders to the stillness around her. Her children, all grown up no longer talk to her as much as they did. Life goes on but with very little rapport, she now questions her existence.
- That school friend who saved a seat for you at every lunch break, hung around behind you as you chattered along endlessly in college corridors, who for many years after wrote you, called you, emailed you until she disappeared without a trace.
- Or that ex-special friend who you never ‘officially’ dated, who silently stood in your shadows, always available when you needed him/her, never questioned you, your intentions or your reasons why. Today you only remain a memory s/he’d prefer to forget.
Validation. What is it then?
It’s getting feedback from others that what I do and what I say matters to you…. I matter to you. You hear me. You see me. You think of me. You thank me. You acknowledge my accomplishments. You appreciate my efforts.
Validation is one way that we communicate acceptance of (ourselves and) others. Validation doesn't mean agreeing or approving. When your best friend or a family member makes a decision that you really don't think is wise, validation is a way of supporting them and strengthening the relationship even if you disagree on issues or hold a different opinion. Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person's thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors as understandable.
Do we always need to receive validation from others? Or can we give it to ourselves?
In fact, you need to give it to yourself. When you recognize your good qualities/behaviors, praise yourself for your accomplishments (just don’t go overboard with it).
Indeed, if you don’t praise yourself, you’ll have a tendency to question the validation you receive from others: “Oh, he’s just saying that; she doesn’t really mean it.” Or you may end up being so hungry for validation that others may perceive you as excessively needy: “If I don’t notice every little thing s/he does, s/he’s on my case.”
One of the ways to understand why we need to be validated requires us to look at how often our feelings get ridiculed. We believe from an early age that strength means not crying, bravery means not feeling fear, and maturity means not getting angry.
Showing strong emotion tends to make people around you uncomfortable. Usually, they will attempt to stop you as quickly as possible. They may try to convince you that your feelings are inappropriate. Or they may try to reassure you. Though their intent maybe to help you feel better, often the impact of their message is that it's not okay to feel what you’re feeling.
Essentially then we yearn for acceptance of our feelings.
In daily lives as well, whatever else someone may be saying when they express themselves, they are probably also implicitly asking, "Are my feelings okay?"
So m/take the time to connect with your parent/s today, trace down that friend and have a heart to heart and let that ex- special friend know that you recall and realize. Do thank them all.
Validation then, answers this indirectly asked question, "Are my feelings okay?", and provides satisfaction for a profound, though often unconscious need of every individual.