We often look to external sources to let us know that we’re good enough, but too many people rely on feedback and validation from others simply to feel good about themselves. While it’s great to receive praise and kudos for a job well-done, what’s really important is that you value your own opinion of yourself. After all, this is your life and you get to define what success and failure look like. To validate yourself, you don’t need to adhere to external standards set by someone else.
Self-validation is a way to be kind and move away from the strong self-criticism and hatred people experience. When learning to be less critical of ourselves, we start with self-compassion. Self-compassion, different than having high self-esteem, is about being kind to ourselves, recognizing that our struggles are part of a part of a shared experience of being human, and being mindful.
In a nutshell, self-validation is about acknowledging and accepting ourselves, especially our feelings and thoughts, for what we are. In other words, self-validation focuses on thinking what we think, and feeling what we feel with acceptance and without judgment or criticism.
When we invalidate ourselves our emotions become stronger and more intense. Our thoughts tend to turn to a place of judgment and criticism, leading to us acting on our emotions in ways that do not serve us or do not align with our goals in life. This generates even more unwanted feelings, pain, and self-criticism, cueing a downward spiral. While self-validation might not take away a difficult situation, it can help break that spiral through observing it, focusing on facts and not judgments, and labeling what is true and valid.
Pay attention. Be more mindful by noticing and observing your experiences. What are the automatic thoughts or words in your head? What sensations and emotions do you notice in your body? How is this elated to your behaviors and the immediate situation?
Reflect back without judgment on yourself. Separate what you observe about yourself and your situation from your judgments and concerns. Remember these self-validating statements:
I am having the thought that…
Right now, I’m worried about … and this is only a thought in my head
Right now, what is happening is…
Use your “Wise Mind” and trust your intuition. Get in touch with what your emotions and the situation are telling you to do; get in touch with what your wise mind – or your gut – is telling you want to do or you need right now
In my gut, I really wanted… to happen instead
Understand causes. Remember that all things have a cause, which in turn makes them understandable
This emotion makes sense because…
Given each thing that happened up until this moment, it makes sense that right now…
Acknowledge the valid. Stand up for yourself, if this is valid; empower yourself
It is valid that…
If in the same situation as me, other people would be doing/feeling… too!
Be genuine. Treat yourself with respect; see that you are human and equal
It makes sense that I feel… and think… and did…. It is all VALID.
Strive to show yourself some love and be a good friend to yourself, by keeping these seven tips in mind:
Don’t judge your emotions, feelings, or thoughts because emotions and thoughts happen, so embrace them and let them pass through. You’re neither your thoughts or your emotions, they’re just something that passes through you from time to time, so let them come and go.
Be Your own best friend. Because talking down to yourself, breaks down your morale and motivation. Be honest with yourself, but don’t beat yourself up, give yourself encouragement instead. Sometimes the voice inside your head is just a thought, so remember to give yourself the same support that you’d give your best friend.
We often see and fixate on the negativity in our lives because our brains scan for problems and threats. Just because we primarily notice the negative, does not mean our experience is entirely negative – It just means that your brain is on the lookout for things that could go wrong. Simply put, your brain is just doing its job to help you.
Joy comes from your own personal advancement and not from social comparisons. Periodically take a look back to see how far you’ve come, and also take a look at those around you so you can see what’s possible for you to achieve. Keep your focus on your path and what you’re doing. Having doubts doesn’t mean that you lack confidence or are weak.
You don’t need someone else’s permission to love yourself and to be happy. Give yourself that permission to be happy and to love and care about yourself, because if you don’t love yourself, why should anyone else?