How we interact as friends, family, pub buddies or acquaintances has a bearing on our self-worth. However, it varies from person to person, according to their level of self acceptance.
There has been exploration into what factors could determine someone’s self-esteem and self-acceptance. For example, the Spanish have a saying ‘Ninos con abuelos son mas seguros’. Children with grandparents are more secure. We could gather from this, perhaps, that someone’s overall confidence could stem from something over which they had no agency. so do people with less confidence get penalised too much in today’s society?
Watching talent shows on TV could reveal some factors about confidence. You get contestants with absolutely no gauge for their level of skill. You get calm and assured seeming performers whose very demeanour wins them points. It is then revealed that they have a strong support network waiting in the wings saying ‘We knew they would make it.’ or crying ‘so proud’. Is it more validation for the validated?
Surely, support and encouragement are key to someone working hard and striving for excellence? Meanwhile those without that validating network might struggle to muster up the motivation to shine? Britain’s Got Talent auditions seem to demonstrate that and I feel for the people brave enough to go on and be given the buzzer during their performances. Empathy seems to be dwindling, in my view.
Looking at demographics, we could segment these into a hierarchy of validation. Those at the top of the validation tree may not be as better off as we could assume. Take celebrities for example. Genuine fans can be balanced in their response to their favourite musicians and want to convey their responses to their work. They may not buy an album if they think the artist has let themselves down, or stick loyally with them even when they are unceremoniously offloaded by their record company. For example, Kate Nash, Black Eyed Peas or Kiesza.
I think the public are in general more loyal to people in the public eye than we’re given credit for. We real people are also more consistent than business people. We have cheered on celebrities during their battles against their record companies, such as George Michael or Ke$sha. If someone comes clean, we will give them our respect, for instance Kate Moss over the marching powder did her career no harm once she admitted it.
Connection to others must involve empathy. We are more likely to feel a connection with someone who validates what we say, than someone who alienates us. When we phone company helplines, there seem to be people with social skills and those without. The ones who seem to be going by the script who pause a second or two long after we have asked a question and use phrases like ‘Sorry, I’m going to have to stop you there,’ or ‘if you let me speak’ or ‘you’re the only one who seems to be having a problem.’ If no one else validates us, we need to learn to validate ourselves. That is where self-acceptance comes in.
Validating someone is honest, in case you wondered. It is not submitting to mindless validation. I like the term ‘firm but kind’. Validating someone is not indulging them. There is no ego involved. It could be called ‘generosity’. I think ‘generosity’ makes the definition away from ‘indulgence’ a bit clearer. Fundamentally, it is time to give up right and wrong as unhelpful constructs.
This great article for families shows how validation is not about the veracity of facts, which can’t be disputed, but about people’s wants, thoughts and feelings. We all have a unique perspective as we see the world through our eyes only, with a point of view harvested from listening to others, taking interest, curiosity and experience, plus some genetics thrown in for good measure.
In terms of inherited feelings, even we ourselves find these harder to validate as we don’t always know where they come from. Mark Wolynn wrote an excellent book about this area of human psychology, satellite therapy, called ‘It Didn’t Start With You’. This is about inherited trauma. We could even experience some of that in our dreams.
I cannot prove this but I think I have experienced this. I have had dreams (or maybe imaginings) about being trapped in a basement room with no windows. In 2006, I went to where my grandmother was born in County Cork, Ireland, and in the basement was a room similar to the one I had imagined. I started wondering if there had been a pregnancy out of wedlock in my ancestry. The family Bible suggested there had been a fair few childhood deaths.
Then, in 2016, my brother forwarded an email to me from cousins in New Zealand, who descended from an Irish lady my great-great-grandfather had fallen in love with, married and bore a child, Tom. Tom and his mother Mary were sent to live in New Zealand in the 1860s, where he became a prominent member of society. I met my fourth cousin Byron at Glastonbury Festival in 2016. After reading Wolynn’s book, I also thought of the half sibling that was never born to my father’s previous girlfriend, before my mother, Bobbi in Canada.
Satellite therapy can involve talking to others, but does not rely on having anyone concerned available to talk to. The essential aims are acknowledgement, validation and acceptance, which leads to resolution.
The BPD Family website says about using validation when you don’t agree. In my view the trick is to know the difference between acknowledgement and judgment before making your response:
In these situations, it can be difficult to find something to validate while remaining true and authentic to ourselves. It can be even more difficult to find the motivation to counter our own emotional instincts and our proclivity to reject, ignore, or judge. And all of this may be further complicated by the fact that we are tired, frustrated, fearful, or holding onto resentments.
To me, the biggest resources for humanity to maintain quality of life and to work together towards better justice, equality, opportunity and fairness is to work together. Our society seems to be fractured and fragmented.
I would like to know if I do not validate people. I try to and I think I do. It is the best means, in my mind, to support people’s mental health and to promote self-healing and to create the balance of positivity, which is authentic and leads to the best things in life: love, connection and freedom.
Lastly, perhaps we learn to be more accepting and validating as we get older. As we mature and grow up, different things become important. If you are young, it is easy to feel validated, particularly if you are good looking and to ignore or invalidate people who are older or uglier.
However, social skills do translate into good business. So mind your own business and be kind. No one needs to be invalidated or alienated and perhaps less sadness would emerge if people remembered to be kind and generous to strangers again. No harm, perhaps it may save someone.