August 2021: The Need for Validation

From my perspective, there are so many ways that traditional parenting compromises our emotional well being as adults.   Traditionally, children are not encouraged to listen to themselves and to trust their feelings.  Instead, we are told things like “you shouldn’t be angry”, “you need to be nice”, “stop crying”, etc.

The result is we grow up doubting whether the ways that we feel are OK.   By the time traditionally raised children go through puberty, they are already questioning whether they are “overreacting” or being “too sensitive”.

I often say that we don’t sell anti-depressants to 2 year olds, and one of the things that differentiates 2 year olds is that they trust how they feel.   They don’t question themselves.   Arguably, humans are the only species that questions how they feel and whether it’s “OK” to feel that way.  No wonder the pharmaceutical companies are making so much money selling psychotropic drugs!

One of the ways this chronic self-questioning plays out is in the need for validation.  We are so unsure about our opinions and perspectives, and then we feel so much better if others agree with us, and so much worse if they don’t.   If I am feeling uncomfortable in a certain situation, does it really matter whether others would feel uncomfortable in that situation?   Is my discomfort “valid” if most others would agree, and “invalid” if they wouldn’t?

I believe it is possible, and have seen it happen, to raise children who trust themselves and feel secure in their feelings, whether others agree or not.  How much inner peace could derive from a sense that how we feel is OK,  because we always know we are OK?

So how “should” we feel?   Exactly the way we feel.   We are the only version of ourselves, so we are the perfect version of ourselves, and how we feel is how we “should” feel.   Of course, if WE are unhappy with anything we are experiencing, it’s really healthy to address it (with our without a therapist), but it doesn’t make our feelings “wrong”