According to Merriam-Webster online, one definition of VALIDATE is this – to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of. A synonym shown for validate is support.
I believe everyone enjoys and wants to be validated and supported. And I believe the lack of each creates most conflict in relationships whether it is family, friends, or partners.
Think about validation for a whole day during every conversation you have with other people. Think about how you want to initially respond to what the person says and if it negates or validates what they think and feel. Do your best during conversation to respond first by validating what the person said to you. Then, respond with your own thoughts. Remember, validate does not mean agree. And thinking that it does is why people don’t do it.
I can guarantee you that in the majority of your conversations, if you start by validating the other person, you will have a lot less conflict.
In my marriage, there was never much validation. I was married to a guy who believes all things are either fact or things which can be proven wrong. Which doesn’t leave any room for how a person feels. And it’s easy to see why he communicates that way if you spend any time with his family, mostly the men. Don’t get me wrong, they are all wonderful people. People I miss often. Most just don’t believe in validating the feelings or opinions of those around them. Unless, of course, those feelings and opinions are exactly the same as their own.
That makes for some really challenging communication and some serious strain on relationships. In its worst form, it’s emotionally abusive. And as a parent, if you don’t validate your children and how they feel because you believe you don’t have to, you’ve taught them to doubt themselves. I justified that kind of communication for a lot longer than I should have, and I certainly don’t miss it.
Validation is essential to healing from lots of things, including loss, divorce, abuse, and trauma. It’s easier than trying to tell a person how to feel or to get over it anyway!! You don’t have to understand what someone went through and you don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing. But if someone says “I feel…” you can say “I understand you’re feeling …….., is there anything you need from me right now?” Boom, you validated their feelings. You supported how they are feeling and offered to hear what they need, if anything. This gives them the power to say that they need nothing but a listening ear. Or a hug. Or time alone. Or help finding resources. It gives them the power. And that’s critical to feeling you’ve been heard. Validated. Supported.
The first week of group therapy was last night for me. Validation always comes up. It’s the best part of being in a group with people who understand exactly what it’s like to feel the things I have felt. And we always set ground rules which include asking the person who just spoke if they need anything from the group. Always giving the speaker the power over their own experience. I love that. There is a power in group therapy that cannot be explained. The support and validation of the experience is unmatched by anything else. And that’s because of healthy communication.
I’m not at all saying that my communication is perfect every day or right for you or without flaws. But I certainly AM saying that to be in my life, you better be someone who is capable of healthy communication, or of learning and growing in communication style. And you must love honesty. Even when honesty is difficult. If you’re in my life, you’re likely someone who already communicates in a loving and accepting way, and who can understand that certain things aren’t negotiable if you wanna be with me. And you’re someone who expects the same honesty and understanding and communication from me.
I worry about things I can’t control. Prior to abuse in my life, I didn’t worry about a thing. I think most people would agree that I was a pretty free-spirited kind of gal. No worries, just fun. And when that began to change for me around 16ish years old, I covered my fear and hurt with laughter, and recklessness, and being mean to people so I wouldn’t have to focus on my own hurt. I worry now mostly because I don’t feel worthy of goodness, success, safety, or love. Not on the surface, logically I know I deserve to be happy. But I don’t feel worthy way down, where it counts, where it can give me peace. I don’t feel validated or supported. It’s part of who I am. It’s the girl in the corner. The one who has the right to be healed and forgiven and free. And it’s that girl that I am working so hard to validate and to heal.
Validation…recognizing the worthiness of
I’ll get there.