Is wanting validation from others a sign of weakness? Yes, and that’s not a bad thing.
When we validate someone, we make them stronger. In fact, the words “valid” and “value” come from the same Latin root “valere,” or what we now call “valor,” which means be strong. Understanding validation is so important because it communicates that who the other person is in their being, thoughts, and feelings has value to us and we can help strengthen that in them. When we stop seeking and offering validation, we weaken ourselves and our relationships.
In short, we must appreciate what it means to be human. As human beings we are formed in relationships. Our sense of identity and belonging is shaped by others who care for us. As we develop, that basic human need to be valued by those whom we share life with does not go away.
Yet, sometimes validation can have an insincere or cringy feeling. Or, maybe some of you reading this blog resent the fact that your loved one wants you to validate them. The reality is most of us have been formed to think that we should be capable of validating ourselves and not need it from others. While it is absolutely essential that adults be capable of validating their own experiences and worth, we miss out on our potential—and our humanity—when we stop being in relationships that can help us be strong.
We often get lost in our relationships because we aren’t working with the same attachment template. In a secure attachment, we can come with our shortcomings and negative emotions to receive validation from one another, and thereby be strengthened.
It becomes increasingly difficult to do so if you refuse to acknowledge that you have any weaknesses and/or if you were raised to believe that any weak parts in you mean you have already failed and are worthless. So, rather than validate, you may dismiss. You dismiss yourself, and you dismiss others. Alternatively, you may dismiss yourself, and validate others, but that validation will likely be ineffective and akin to something more like coddling—you cannot strengthen others when you cannot humbly reach for what you need to be strengthened yourself.
To validate is to accept another’s experience and remind them that they have what it takes to endure. When someone comes to you with an insecurity or negative emotions:
Below are some examples of how to validate:
I’m nervous about going to college. I don’t know anyone there, and I’m worried I won’t be able to manage the academic load given how much I struggled in high school.
DISMISSING: It’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it. You can always drop a class.
VALIDATING: That makes a lot of sense to me. It’s hard to be a situation where everything is new—and without any friends. I know how much you struggled in high school. I also know how far you’ve come since then to advance your learning and to reach your goals. I’m so proud of you for persevering, and I don’t see that changing in college. I know you can figure it out, and I’m here for you.
I’m worried that my new boss doesn’t see my value. For some reason I really doubt myself around her, feel less smart, and unable to articulate my thoughts coherently.
DISMISSING: Your new boss is a jerk. You shouldn’t feel that way. Don’t let her get to you.
VALIDATING: I know how important your work is to you. You’ve helped the business grow and developed so many people, so not to have that sense of confidence around your new boss must be worrisome. I just want you to know that I really believe in you as a leader, even if you doubt that at times when your boss is around.
It makes sense that there are no shortcuts to becoming strong. We experience that in our mental and physical fitness, and the same applies to our emotional and relational health. Wanting validation is a healthy acknowledgement of a part of you that needs to be strengthened, and courageously reaching out. This allows us to share our weaknesses with one another and to be loved, not in spite of it, but because it.
This Post Written By:
Nicole Rizkallah, LAMFT – Therapy With Heart
8737 E. Via De Commercio, Suite 200
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258
Phone: (480) 888-5380
Fax: (480) 203-2881