The Need for Validation
My biggest fear is that of abandonment, being left behind and forgotten as if I weren’t important. My biggest failing is my need for validation: “recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile.” Throughout my life I’ve struggled with this as one event after another have left me in a state of perpetual question of my importance. There is a valid reason a validation of my fear of abandonment, and those facts aren’t in dispute. Overcoming that fear now that it’s been realized in the most horrible way is a priority, however even as something can be important, that doesn’t mean the fix is easy. It takes time to rewrite a lifetime of software. Validation however is different. The validation of my feelings, expecting the worst outcome to be the most likely within particular situations, and example would be the following: I send a text message and someone doesn’t get back to me. I can see they’ve read it, or I call them and it goes to voicemail. Hours go by and no response, then a day, or more goes by without receiving a single hint of communication. My first thought is what did I do to upset them. Then it’s, I’m not important enough for them to take the time to send me a message. Then it ends with they don’t’ care about me at all. This escalation happens almost every time in my head and believe me, it’s not a pleasant place to be.
I realize people have lives and I also realize those lives don’t revolve around me. I realize life happens and sometimes you just can’t. Though perhaps it’s my priority that my friends are of my highest priority I spend a great deal of time responding to and sending texts and messages to those who do contact me. I would say that this fear is a learned behavior.
Psychology Today has an article that’s interesting on how to validate someone.
“The first Level is Being Present. There are so many ways to be present. Holding someone’s hand when they are having a painful medical treatment, listening with your whole mind and doing nothing but listening to a child describe their day in first grade, and going to a friend’s house at midnight to sit with her while she cries because a supposed friend told lies about her are all examples of being present.” The Article goes on to talk about how to validate yourself. “Being present for yourself means acknowledging your internal experience and sitting with it rather than “running away” from it, avoiding it, or pushing it away. Sitting with intense emotion is not easy. Even happiness or excitement can feel uncomfortable at times.
Often one of the reasons other people are uncomfortable with intense emotion is that they don’t know what to say. Just being present, paying complete attention to the person in a nonjudgmental way, is often the answer. For yourself, being mindful of your own emotion is the first step to accepting your emotion.
People may mask their feelings because they have learned that others don’t react well to their sensitivity. This masking can lead to not acknowledging their feelings even to themselves, which makes the emotions more difficult to manage. Being able to accurately label feelings is an important step to being able to regulate them.
When someone is describing a situation, notice their emotional state. Then either name the emotions you hear or guess at what the person might be feeling.”
The Article goes on to the next steps, and the next is understanding the history of someone’s past. Realizing that their feelings or actions may be justified based on situations from earlier in their life. It’s important to realize for yourself that if you feel a particular way why that may be the case. Normal feelings, are just that, normal to have and feel, and checking the facts of how strongly you feel based on the reasonable level per individual event.
While all of this is great, as you know this is a Christian Blog, so what does all this have to do with Jesus Christ, and God? EVERYTHING! The scripture is full of validation.
John 3:17 Christ came to save us, not to condemn us. Psalm 17:8 We are the Apple of God’s eye, he will hide us in the shadow of his wings. Colossians 3:23 “23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” We often seek approval from our fellow peers and this often leads us to disaster. People often let us down because one of a thousand reasons. The only real validation we need is that from God. People judge left and right and even when the scripture says otherwise people judgments hurt. I myself have been harshly judged on my mistakes even if they were justified from past experiences. I’ve been harshly judged on my looks, my ideals, and those judgments hurt.
I recently sought validation about a decision I had made, and the response didn’t go as I thought it would. This left a huge rift and hurt. I wasn’t expecting my decision to cause such uproar but it did. This on top of my fear that if someone doesn’t get back to me in a text or by phone, or doesn’t send me anything for days that I am some how not important to them. All these things together can be wrapped up in one word, LIES. The Devil wants us to feel badly about ourselves. The Devil wants to rip us apart and pull us away from God. When we make mistakes and we let the fear of those mistakes dictate how we proceed we are falling into that lie. We make ourselves believe that we are worthless, without the possibility of redemption, or even that we don’t deserve it. All of this is just a big fat lie that the Devil wants us to believe. Rewriting how we feel isn’t easy. We might have to tell ourselves every day that we have forgiven ourselves, and that we know God has forgiven us for whatever wrong we may have committed. God don’t care where you been, He cares where you’re going.” (Dr. M. David Chambers, Senior Pastor)
We know that God loves us and we know that regardless of our mistakes or sins God loves us. We know that if we truly repent and ask for forgiveness and give Christ our entire heart we will be accepted into the Kingdom. We are always given chances, and we are always given grace. Will we be punished if we disobey, or blatantly sin or go against God, sure we will because God or Abba (Father) will treat us like a father and discipline his children when they need it. Remember don’t be so quick to pass judgment; it’s not for us to do so. Try and consider the needs of those around you. If we allow God to work through us we can help touch and mold lives and by understanding someone’s emotions, by respecting them, and taking the time to learn, we can be more then just an ear, we can be an inspiration, we can be a guide, and we may actually be able to make a difference, if we allow God to use us.