Validation: You Matter.

“What is an example of an invalidating experience? Let’s say a child is hungry and says, “Mommy, I want to eat.” The normal response is that the mother feeds the child. However, if a mother repeatedly denies the validity of the child’s experience by saying, “No, you are not hungry,” that child learns to distrust her own inner voice, her own physiology, and her own emotions.” -Sheela Raja

Today’s post is simple in text but complicated in feeling.

When we are children (birth to at least age 25) we are developing our sense of self. And, we develop our sense of self by interacting with the people around us. This is primarily done with parents but also with other family members, teachers, clergy, and anyone that a child interacts with.

The act of validation is one of the single most important things an adult can give a child and it looks like this:

Validation

Child: “I’m sad about Charlie not wanting to play with me”

Adult: “I understand that you’re sad, you care a lot about Charlie”

Child: “Mom, put your phone down and look at me”

Mom: (puts phone down) “You have my attention”

Child cries

Dad hugs child and comforts child

Invalidation

Child: “I’m sad about Charlie not wanting to play with me”

Adult: “It’s not that big of a deal”

Child: “Mom, put your phone down and look at me”

Mom: “Hold on, let me finish this email”

Child cries

Dad: “Stop crying! It’s not that big of a deal”

If you are validated quite a bit as a child you learn to trust yourself and your feelings. More importantly, you learn that your feelings are valid and they matter. If you are invalidated as a child you may seek a lot of external validation from others (from the wrong and unhealthy others that may not be able to validate due to their own challenges), you may often feel “crazy”, you may feel like hysterical, and you may feel misunderstood.

Invalidation as a child, may also lead to an inability to validate another person. This is when someone is always contrary or looking for an argument. This is when someone takes an opposing view all the time. They were never taught that it’s safe to agree or validate.

You can learn to validate yourself and heal this part of you. First, you have to notice how you are thinking and feeling and practice saying to yourself “It’s okay to feel this way, I’m human and I have a lot of feelings and emotions. I don’t need anyone else to tell me how I feel is right or wrong. I am allowed to feel how I feel.” It’s hard work but it is some of the most important work you can do to live a happy healthy life.

We talked about validation in adult relationships in a past post: Validation! The Ninja Skill.

“Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.”
Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey

“The one person you’ll be spending the rest of your life with is you. Treat yourself with love and respect.”
Elle Sommer

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