“We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another”
– Unknown (saw it somewhere on Facebook)
In my work as a professional listener, I’ve deemed some skills “Level: Ninja”. One of those skills is the ability to validate yourself and others.
Validation Ninja Skill One: Self Validation – The ability to understand that how you think and feel is valid and acceptable even if other people do not believe this to be true or right.
Validation Ninja Skill Two: Validating Others – The ability to validate someone else’s thoughts and feelings as valid and acceptable even if you do not necessarily agree that they are true or right.
Self validation must come first.
You must be willing to be understanding, compassionate, and validating with yourself before you are able to validate someone else. If you are unable to self-validate, you could end up deferring to other peoples thoughts and opinions and not feeling very good about your own feelings.
This is not about being right or wrong. We all come from different places and carry with us different experiences. This means that no two people will experience the same event in the same way. Even if you’ve been with your partner for 60 plus years, you will never be the same person with the same brain, and you will always have different perceptions.
Why is this so hard? Because we all have the need to feel like we are right . But because we all come from different places and we have different experiences, no one is ever really right (people really hate when I say that). For example, we can disagree on topics like religion and politics. We do not need to agree, but we do need to validate each other based on life experiences and upbringing. We perceive these things differently and that is ok. You are not wrong, I am not right.
If you are saying to yourself, “I don’t need anyone to validate me.” I don’t believe you. We are wired for social connection and we all need some level of validation. Maybe, and hopefully, you do not need excessive validation (again, a function of a lack of self-validation) but I believe we all need to feel like we matter.
(CAVEAT: if you are being mean and hurtful to yourself or someone else I will not validate that)
What makes validation the Ninja Skill? Let me provide you an example:
Mr. Beard was shopping at a local grocery store when another man came up to him and screamed at him for cutting in line.
What happens next? The ninja skill in action!
Mr. Beard could have screamed back at the man and then they could have went to blows in the middle of the store. But no, Mr. Beard said “Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead.”
This man’s anger was not met with anger, but met with validation (the man’s perception is that Mr. Beard cut in front of him and Mr. Beard replied with “okay” and an apology for the misunderstanding). The situation diffused quickly in a safe non-violent way. I have witnessed validation diffuse intense and scary situations and I have used validation to diffuse uncomfortable situations. It can be magical when it is delivered genuinely.
I think it is magical because we all so desperately need validation.
In our intimate relationships: Validation is essential. If I feel a certain way about something it is important for my partner to validate that feeling even if he doesn’t feel the same. In doing that, he says that how I feel is important. I also need to be able to do that for him. Validation is not necessarily acceptance or belief. I can validate someone’s thoughts and feelings without agreeing with them.
In our professional relationships: Validation is extremely important. We are not given a choice as to who we have to share time with in our work environments and if we are bent on always needing to be right we will put a significant strain on our relationships with people who see the world differently.
Is validation giving in? Nope, it is self-awareness.
It is never an acceptance of bullying or mean-spirited behavior. It is the ability to say “I can see where you are coming from” and to understand that you come from another place and we can, and will, coexist peacefully.
There are a few more ninja level skills but you’ll have to wait and see.