Validation is very hard to come by. People are very quick to minimize the successes of others & to tell others their pain isn’t so bad. When others either fail to validate you or directly, deliberately invalidate you, it hurts. It also leads many people to invalidate themselves, especially when the invalidation starts early in life by their own parents. Parental invalidation of a child easily can instill a belief in the child that she or he isn’t worth validating. Accomplishments, dreams, needs, feelings all become trivial, unworthy of any recognition. I believe invalidating a child helps to instill a root of deep shame in him or her. The child becomes ashamed of his or her own needs, wants, feelings & even accomplishments.
Growing up with narcissistic parents, this is a very common phenomenon. In my own life, I have only recently begun to see how badly I have invalidated myself. I tend to look at what I haven’t done rather than what I have, & berate myself for what I haven’t done rather than be proud of what I have. Or, if I accomplish something good, I just look at it as something anyone can do, or it’s something I should do so why should that be celebrated? My wants, needs & feelings come after those of others, even if I have a crisis. While I am getting a bit better at these behaviors, it’s difficult since they are so deeply ingrained in me. Plus, by behaving this way, I have essentially told others it’s perfectly OK for them to invalidate me, which means others do so on a regular basis.
If this describes you as well, I want to encourage you today to do as I am trying to do myself- begin to validate yourself! It’s time to recognize that your wants, needs, actions & feelings are just as important as those of other people. To do this, ask yourself why you believe the way you do. What makes you think your wants, needs, etc. are less important than those of other people? If you are unsure, ask God to show you. Once you realize why you feel the way you do, ask Him to speak truth to you about why you feel this way. Are your feelings accurate? Or, are they the result of someone else invalidating you? How can you change this false belief into the truth?
Also, pay attention to those things you feel, good & bad, & acknowledge them. Don’t brush things off so easily- feel your feelings. If someone hurt you, then feel that hurt & be good to yourself by doing nice things that make you feel good. If you feel good because you accomplished a task that was on the back burner for too long, stop & bask in how good that feels for a few minutes. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Maybe even celebrate by giving yourself a gift.
Another thing to think about. People who invalidate on a regular basis are often toxic. They can be narcissists (or even just plain self-centered people) who believe they are the only ones worthy of validation, passive/aggressive types who use it as a means of punishing others, or they can simply be the superficial type of people who don’t like to delve into any deeper subject matter. Superficial people don’t care for anything that requires much thought or effort on their part, & validation requires some of both. Validation requires one to see things through another’s eyes if you wish to truly understand their feelings, plus you have to consider the right thing to say to properly validate another person.
In any case, the point is an invalidating person is the one with the problem, not you. People want & need validation. It’s how God made us, & is completely normal to want it! I believe it is also abnormal not to wish to bless people by giving it freely. There is nothing wrong with you for being hurt or disappointed when you are invalidated. But, since it is becoming a rare thing in today’s society, you can validate yourself.
And, while you’re becoming more aware of the importance of validating yourself, don’t forget to validate others as well! People are starving for validation- be a blessing, & validate others! If you are unsure when it’s appropriate, ask God to show you who to validate & when.