“What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.”
As a secure, self-sufficient person, all our validation must come from within — This is what the entire narrative of self-love and self-esteem has been preaching us. And, it is true. But this is also true:
“Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.”
~ Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey
So, yeah…it is important to validate the feelings of those we care about. It is a human need to be seen, heard and understood. It brings us great comfort to share our day to day events and stories with others. We can’t equate that with offloading our worries, but sharing does calm our nerves and makes our fears appear less fearsome. Getting a nod or some words of validation convey that having flaws is natural and that we are still loved.
But how many times do we reciprocate that validation and empathy? Just like us, our listeners (partners, friends and family) may not be the perfect listener, but they still are with us listening to our concerns. So, say this after you’re done:
“Thanks for listening!”
Just like we are more inclined to share things with someone who listens to us attentively and responds accordingly, our listeners will also be more inclined to extend their empathy if we express our appreciation. We must show that we do not take them for granted.
Thanking is such a small gesture that we often forget to express it and yet saying, “thanks for listening” or “I appreciate you hearing me” can validate the time, effort and emotion of the other person.
At times, our listeners will follow up on our concerns asking if the problem is resolved. It’s such a nice feeling to know that this person remembered the conversation and was genuinely concerned for us. So, offering a simple acknowledgement like “thanks for asking” will nurture and strengthen your bond even further.
“You were right.”
We all have been in situations where despite the warning, someone does a thing and becomes a victim of disappointment. It is very easy for us to gloat and say, “I told you so.” Next time, bite your tongue so that you can give the other person the chance to validate your experience. Wouldn’t that be a moment of bigger pride when they come and tell you?
Similarly, when you realise that you were wrong and the other person was right, walk up to them and admit. Yes, I know how it feels – shame and on top of it, my sense of self-worth disallows me to acknowledge my mistake. This is because we all have grown up by gaining respect and acceptance by being right about things. We’ve all been told to hide our flaws and glorify our perfect parts. So, making a mistake, that too, deliberately after being warned is extremely embarrassing. Thus, we deny and instead of admitting, we try to justify our failure by saying that it was different with us.
Now, they may not need that validation because they can see you walking around with droopy shoulders. But, you know what? Admitting our mistake and validating their experience may help shed a few pounds of our shameful ego so that we can learn from the mistake and move forward with head held high.
It may boost their ego a little, but it will also make them more invested in your success and isn’t that what we all want? People, who root for us?
Well, it begins with gentle acts of appreciation and validation that nurture our relationships.