What is emotional validation? Did you receive it in your childhood? Do you practice self-validation now?
Emotional validation is the act of someone positively acknowledging/validating your feelings. It means that you are not shamed for your feelings and that those feelings are not dismissed.
Were your feelings dismissed in your childhood? If so, then not only did you not get it, but, instead, you got the opposite of validation.
We Need Emotional Validation
Emotional validation is an innate human need. If you disagree with me, then it’s obvious that your parents didn’t know how to validate someone and his or her emotions. It was even more difficult for them to do that for you as a child.
Now, you don’t think you need validation from others. Since that’s the case, then you most certainly don’t allow space for self-validation because you believe it’s not needed.
I have two goals in writing this blog post. The first is to explain how the lack of your feelings being validated as a child affects your ability for self-validation as an adult. The second is to give you examples of validating statements to use in your healing journey.
Your Parents Didn’t Intentionally Neglect You
As with all my posts, we need to dig into your childhood to see how your parents gave you the opposite of validation. If you’re reading this, then that was probably the case for you.
Before we look at how your feelings were dismissed in childhood, I need to give you a reminder about your parents. This is important.
It’s easy to blame your parents for not giving you what you needed, such as emotional validation. However, you need to understand that your parents were never taught how to validate someone. So, they certainly couldn’t provide for you.
Dismissed Feelings in Childhood
I’ll give you some examples from my own childhood that caused me to struggle with self-validation as an adult. For many years, I was the queen of giving myself the opposite of validation.
If I felt lonely or sad, I would tell myself I was pathetic. I’d tell myself that I just needed to put my “big girl” panties on and “get over myself.” Those messages I gave myself were reminiscent of the messages from my childhood.
I can remember many times that I told my mom that I was sad about something. The entire reason we tell somebody how we are feeling is that we want emotional validation.
Again, emotional validation is an innate human need. Sadly, I didn’t get that as a child. My mom would respond to my attempts of getting that need met with a statement you’ve all probably heard.
She would say, “You don’t have anything to be sad about.” Often, that was followed by, “Happiness is a choice, and you need to just make yourself happy.”
Oh, how that brings up a lot of sadness for me because I think about that precious, little curly redheaded girl who needed a mom to validate her feelings. I tried to get that in every way I possibly could, but I never got it.
My mom didn’t get that from her mom. That resulted in her having a belief that she didn’t need her feelings validated. Therefore, nobody else should either, especially me.
Validating Your Own Feelings
If this is sounding familiar to you, then you struggle with self-validation as well. When we get the opposite of validation, it sends mixed signals to our brains.
You may feel sad, lonely, scared, or whatever “tough” feeling you are experiencing, but you are told that you have no reason to feel that way. That creates an internal struggle for you.
That internal struggle results in feelings of not being good enough. I call those feelings, “Not Good Enough Stuff.” To read more about that, click here.
Beliefs develop such as, “There is something wrong with me,” or “I’m not good enough.” The internal struggle is that you’re having a big feeling such as sadness, but are being told you shouldn’t have that feeling.
Confusion is the result. For me, I decided that there was something really wrong with me. If I felt sad, but was told that I had no reason to feel sad, then I must be doing something wrong.
The Effects of Feelings Being Dismissed in Childhood
My feelings not being validated as a child led me to the belief that I should not talk about how I feel. Those feelings must be wrong to have and certainly wrong to share with others.
So, what happens when you hold in or ignore all those feelings from childhood to adulthood? You become overwhelmed, which leads to anxiety and/or depression.
Have you ever had the thought that you didn’t have a traumatic childhood so you shouldn’t be depressed? Well, then you need to read my post “I had a good childhood but still depressed.”
Ignoring Children’s Feelings
Now, let’s look at some other examples of how children end up lacking emotional validation. One of the most common ways that happens is a parent or caregiver telling a child how he or she is feeling.
Two examples I hear the most often are, “He’s just tired” or “She’s just hungry.” Yes, it is probably true that he or she is tired or hungry, but what’s also true is that there is a feeling associated with being tired or hungry.
The term, “hangry” is evidence of that. As annoying as that term is to me, I also see it as a step towards society being able to identify feelings.
If a child is feeling angry because he or she is tired or hungry, that feeling of anger is just as important as the hunger or tiredness. However, it’s typically dismissed.
There are hundreds of times when a child is angry, “fussy,” or frustrated because of hunger or being tired. The reason I am mentioning that is that, when a child is told he or she is just hungry or tired, it adds to all the other times when emotional validation was not present.
If you’re a parent and you want to learn how to teach your child how to feel and communicate his or her feelings, read my post “Teach Feeling the Emotions (Emotional Regulation for Kids.” That post will also help you learn how to express and communicate your own feelings.
Acknowledging Your Feelings as an Adult
Now, let’s look at how the dismissal of your feelings in childhood results in your inability to practice self-validation as an adult. I knew that consequence all too well for many years.
Just because you didn’t get your feelings validated as a child doesn’t mean that you didn’t have feelings then or that you don’t have them now. It means that you have the emotions, but give yourself the opposite of validation.
As I mentioned, I would beat myself up for having any emotion other than happiness. If I was anxious about something, I would tell myself I was being ridiculous because that’s what I heard as a child.
I dealt with a lot of sadness and depression throughout my twenties. I did to myself what I hated as a child.
I told myself I had nothing to be depressed about. That sent me deeper into depression every time.
As I began my healing journey, one of the most valuable things I did was to provide self-validation for ANY feeling I had. It felt incredibly odd at first, but after time that began to shift drastically.
Learning how to provide self-validation is hard but possible. I’ll give you some guidance on what self-validation can be for you.
5 Examples of Validating Statements to Tell Yourself
- I have a right to feel what I feel.
- Acknowledging and expressing my feelings are acts of self-love and self-care.
- I trust myself to know what I feel and express it.
- I am important and so are my feelings.
- I am choosing to be emotionally healthy.
These examples of validating statements allow you to give yourself the emotional validation that you needed as a child. It does not erase the emotional trauma you endured, but it sure can keep you from continuing to do that to yourself.
There is never a time that you don’t have a right to feel anything. No matter what the situation is, you still have a right to feel what you feel. Never forget that!
Self-care and self-love are two of the most important things for us in our healing journeys. Allowing yourself to acknowledge and express your feelings in a healthy way should be at the top of your list for healing.
If you don’t give yourself emotional validation, then you can’t expect others to either. On the other side of that, once you begin practicing self-validation, you will see others beginning to validate your feelings.
Yes, there will still be people who don’t validate your feelings. However, you will be so strong in your own self-validation that your need for those who don’t give it will lessen more and more.
Trusting yourself to accurately identify what you are feeling is an important step in self-validation. Once you begin identifying your true feelings, that will serve as your guide to expressing those feelings in a healthy way.
I don’t need to tell you healthy ways to express your feelings. You know what’s healthy and what’s not healthy. The difficulty is deciding whether or not to choose a healthy way of expressing your feelings.
If you didn’t get emotional validation as a child, then you have a false belief. Even if that false belief is in your subconscious, you still have that belief that you aren’t important.
So, just use example number four as a positive affirmation until it begins feeling true. Eventually, it will. I promise.
Now, the hardest of all the Examples of Validating Statements is number five. You will screw this up from time to time and maybe even quite often.
Don’t give up. Making a conscious decision to be emotionally healthy is not easy when you begin adding this process to your healing journey.
So, like example four, use the fifth example as a positive affirmation until it starts becoming truer and truer for you. If you want to learn more about positive affirmations, read my post “8 Self-Loving Affirmations: Learn to Love Yourself.”
Acknowledge your Feelings and the Feelings of Others
Keep in mind that these same Examples of Validating Statements can also be used as a guide showing you how to validate someone else in your life. Again, we all need emotional validation.
Give that gift to yourself. Give that gift to others. We all deserve it, no matter what we do or what we feel.
As with all of my posts, if you struggle to give yourself emotional validation to the point that it is causing you difficulty in daily functioning, I recommend that you find a licensed therapist to help guide you in your healing journey. If you need help finding a good therapist, click here to read my post “5 Steps for Finding a Good Therapist.”
The NGES Community is one of support and love for others. Share your comments below and let us know about your struggles with emotional validation and what you’ve done to heal. We can all heal from one another.
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This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.