In this day and age where everything is on social media and you probaby can't help but be bombarded by sleek and sometimes staged images of what "the good life" should be, it's understandable to have the need to feel like you're in on the story, or at the very least, have your personal choices validated by those whom you think know better.
And it doesn't just happen online; the search for validation happens on a daily basis, both in your professional and personal relationships. Validation, after all, is a form of acceptance, and in it's true definition, it's not a negative thing. According to licensed psychotherapist and life coach Sherry Gaba, LCSW on Psychology Today, "Validation is part of being interdependent and relying on the feedback and encouragement of others around us. Even very independent people still need validation in some aspects of their life."
The problem arises when you only look for validation from other people, and you forget that it should start with yourself. "Self-validation is accepting your won internal experience, your thoughts, and your feelings," says author and certified clinician Karyn Hall, Ph.D. on another Psychology Today feature. "Validating your thoughts and emotions will help you calm yourself and manage them more effectively."
Self-validation seems to be a simple concept, but it's something that's hard to learn. If you've been bombarded by self-doubt which has led to you consistently question your ability to make sound life decisions, then it will take time for you to rediscover that your ideas, opinions, and thoughts are valid. Years of negativity, especially coming from those whose words you value the most, can lead you to believe that what you bring to the table is not useful, or worse, that you're not worth listening to.
"The most important relationship you have is your relationship with yourself," writes Laura Mola on Huffington Post. When you realize that validating yourself is something possible and actually something that you need to keep on doing, then you'll realize that you are the priority. As mentioned, it's not easy, but you can start things slow: by affirmation.
"Affirmations are one means of re-directing chronic negative self-talk," says licensed social worker and author Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW on PsychCentral. "Think of them as a way of reprogramming a computer which is malfunctioning or changing a diet if what you have been eating causes ill effects on your system."
Start off by being present and by thinking about your current feelings. Are you feeling sad? Happy? Worried? Anxious? Acknowledge them one by one and tell yourself that each of them is valid, and that it's okay if you're feeling a certain way. Stop pushing away emotions that you think are not useful to you, because all of them are, and all of them are valid.
Self-validation and the journey towards self-love is an ongoing process. The simple act of acknowledging oneself is a difficut lesson to learn; however if you realize it's okay to cut yourself some slack, the more you'll realize that what you're feeling is as important as what others are, and slowly, you'll find happiness and contentment within yourself.