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Mullen-Johnson: Being heard and understood are vital in relationships

By Crystal Mullen-Johnson

Validation is the acknowledgment of your feelings, thoughts and behaviors by receiving verbal or nonverbal feedback.  It’s essentially experienced by being understood, heard, and accepted. Being heard and understood is vitally important in relationships. It’s likely you will experience positive emotions that reassures you are valuable and accepted.

Let’s explore 2 types of validation:

Internal Validation

Internal validation occurs when you recognize your potential and you feel confident. It is likely your self-esteem will flourish when you adopt healthy thoughts, recognize your self-worth and believe in your abilities. Internal validation is not motivated by other’s perception of you. You validate self by setting personal goals and achieving them. Your belief in self is positive and you learn healthy ways to affirm yourself when challenges arise.

External Validation

On the other hand, external validation can occur when you are complimented or acknowledged by others. For example, you may remember a time when you received external validation. Imagine your boss complimenting your work performance publicly by offering bonuses or a new luxury vehicle and then publishing your accomplishments in the local newspaper; you would be ecstatic. Your interpretation of self would be positive because you were validated by your boss; you would likely share your accomplishments with family and friends. Of course, you would expect them to validate you, why not, it makes you feel good.

However, external validation isn’t always positive. Some use social media for validation to reassure self. Most likely when you feel unworthy you may desire acknowledgment and the need to be accepted by others. This type of negative attention can cause rejection and humiliation if your emotional needs are unfulfilled.  To be frank, social media provides the most toxic outlet for external validation. If your feelings aren’t justified, or ignored, you may experience sadness, worry, and anger.

Why is Validation Important?

Validation is important because it motivates human behavior, fosters relationships and makes us feel good about self. It is built around feeling accepted by others and the value of feeling that you belong.  Belongingness is a primary psychological need that promotes personal growth and relationship development. It is important to be surrounded with people that love, support and nurture your self-esteem.

Create a Healthy Balance of Validation:

Create a healthy balance by developing a healthy self-esteem and start living a happier life.

Remember the 4R’s to nurture your self-esteem:

Read positive quotes, mantras, and affirmations.

Recognize your potential and face your fears.

Realize your self-worth and adopt healthy thoughts of self.

Replace needing other’s validation with your own self-appraisal.

When you properly use validation to develop great confidence; when you recognize you already have all you need to love self; when you search deep within by exploring yourself through self-love and self-compassion, you will experience a level of happiness and contentment you never thought existed. And you can get there through adopting healthy validation practices.

Strive to appreciate how special you are, eliminate self-doubt, and embrace your uniqueness.

Ms. Crystal Mullen-Johnson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW-PIP) and a Registered Play Therapist in Birmingham, AL with more than 16 years of experience in providing counseling. Strive Counseling Services is a private practice located in downtown Birmingham that offers therapeutic mental health services to children (play therapy), adolescents, and adults. Strive offers evidence-based therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Contact us at (205) 721-9893 or www.strivebhm.com  to inquire about Telehealth Services.