One way or another, we have all experienced some form of invalidation in our lives. From someone trying to dictate how we “should” feel to the notion that we “should not” feel that way in the first place, invalidation is rampant and has been so ingrained into our society it has become barely identifiable. It can be as simple as innocently telling a child, “You’re okay,” when they skin their knee or as complex as your own personal self-invalidating negative thoughts. Invalidation truly is a multi-faceted cycle, and denying what we feel or think causes us to question ourselves in harmful ways. However, there is a simple way to break the cycle: practicing self-validation. Before we can journey through breaking the cycle of invalidation, we must first understand the essence of what it means to practice self-validation.
Self-Validation at its Core
Self-validation is the ability to give space and personal affirmation to your thoughts, emotions, or ideas. It is the practice of validating your own experiences and making room for how you feel at any given moment in time. It is saying to yourself, “It makes sense that I feel this way, and I should not try to discount my own experiences.” Although this may sound simple, it takes practice to rework our own self-talk and break the constant cycle of invalidation that we often face.
How to Practice Self- Validation
So, how do we incorporate self-validation into our lives? There is no clear-cut, right or wrong way to validate yourself, rather different forms and ways to change your own self-talk. Here are four of the many different styles of validation–try them and see what works for you.
One of the most fundamental forms of self-validation are self-affirmative statements, or self affirmations. These come in many different forms and can be used every day as a form of positive self-talk. Personally, I have found “I am” statements to be particularly helpful, and I like to say these phrases when I am feeling down about myself. Something along the lines of “I am strong,” “I am resilient,” or “I am willing to work hard” are examples of powerful self affirmations, but statements like, “I am kind,” or “I am caring,” are emotionally empowering as well.
Another type of self-validation is . . . you guessed it, validating statements. These are the statements that I particularly love to use when focusing on the overarching theme of self-validation. Phrases like “What I am feeling right now is valid,” “Life is hard,” or “I am doing my best” are great ways to start opening up a space for validation within.
Positive Validation Mantras
One of my absolute favorite forms of self validation that I try to use daily are positive mantras. These are the uplifting statements that offer the ability to shift your perspective and overall outlook on life. A quote turned mantra that helps me to recenter is, “Without the bitterest cold that penetrates to the very bone, how can plum blossoms send forth their fragrance all over the universe?” This statement by Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō outlines the importance of taking in the bad to enjoy the good. You can find an abundance of mantras and quotes, just like this one, online to help you on your own self-validation journey.
Finally, we have come to one of the more fun forms of self-validation: “and” statements. These are statements that take root in the power of dialectical thinking where two things can be opposite or different yet still remain true at the same time.“And” statements express that the world is not only black or white, but a rainbow of colors. For example, an “and” statement could be “I had a really difficult day today, and that does not reflect on my own self worth.” Removing the word “but” from a sentence and replacing it with the word “and” is also frequently useful to make statements more validating. “I didn’t sleep well last night, but I still need to go to school” becomes “I didn’t sleep well last night, and I still need to go to school.” “I’m really angry with you right now, but I love you” becomes “I’m really angry with you right now, and I love you.” In these cases, using “and” does a better job of acknowledging the truth of both sentiments.
There are many different ways to validate yourself and to allow space for your own emotions and experiences. Try practicing one of the forms of self-validation today to learn how to become a more centered you! Remember, the only wrong way to practice self-validation is to not practice at all.