Validation - We all need it, but what is it? We humans need proof that we are needed, good, and worthy. Some synonyms of validation include:
No doubt at all - we need confirmation and evidence that our lives, that we, matter. Some may disagree with this premise and say that's exactly what we don't need, but, in my experience, we all need it in some form. Perhaps you are the type who believes you are validated all by yourself. You approve of you. Not the norm. Sorry. Most of us need one another. We need to know that our lives matter, that what we do is appreciated, needed, and worthy. If we don't have this testimony, our lives suffer. For some of us, our lives suffer greatly, and, for others, only slightly....
How do we go about being validated? It's that feeling you experience when people tell you they like something you have done. It can be something as simple as a smile and a nod from someone. It can also be the thrill that comes from applause, purchase of something you wrote or drew, or a thank you in the form of words or cards. It can be a pat on the back or overhearing someone brag about something you have done or said.
Psychology Today reports,
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 while maintaining a different opinion. Validation is a way of communicating that the relationship is important and solid even when you disagree on issues.
Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person's thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors as understandable. Self-validation is the recognition and acceptance of your own thoughts, feelings, sensations and behaviors as understandable.
We can communicate our validation of one another by making comments that are not judgmental. For instance, a small child shows you her art. It's average, to say the least. But she needs to be validated. You could say, "Wow, you really did a lot of work there!" Other comments that validate, but don't affirm the quality of art include:
Those lines are so heavy! What were you thinking as you drew them?
You surely used a lot of green (or whatever color). What is your favorite color?
You filled out the whole paper. What made you do that?
I see a lot of trees...what kind are they?
This type of interaction goes a long way in establishing communication. If you just said, "Nice," then each time that child would show you a picture, you'd need to say nice or the child might interpret the drawing as not nice.
The same thing goes for adults. I write a lot of books and confirmation comes from people not only purchasing those books, but making a statement about the books. Sometimes that statement might be shrouded in niceties, when it shows the person made the effort to read and share my experience.
Recently, a few friends threw themselves a birthday party. These are not children - they are grown adults, and I applaud their attempt to celebrate themselves. One, a woman of 50, planned a hot air balloon ride, inviting friends for the launch breakfast. Another, a 30-something social young man, invited friends and relatives to meet in the part. Great food and bubbles and water guns completed the day! The fact that there were those who attended these events demonstrates a validation of the person giving him/herself a party. Kudos for them doing what makes them happy.
About thirty years ago, we lived in Texas, and our next door neighbor whom I thought was old (then she was only 60!), gave herself a gift or two at Christmastime. I marveled when I saw the wrapped gifts under the festive holiday tree adorned with a sacrilegious can of Lone Star on the top. Some gifts were from Kenny Rogers, as well as from a host of other celebrities. Her reasoning was that hubby, although a good man, did not know what made her happy, and she did, so, folks, she did what made her happy and never skipped a beat.
We just can't expect others to validate us. We have to create scenarios allowing others into our lives, and, if we are lucky, we can expect some validation sometime somewhere, thus enriching our lives in this journey we call life. As my friend, Martin, often says,
LIFE IS GOOD!