Archives for Validation
As a child, you learned the labels for what you were feeling from your caregivers. Is that tightness in your throat fear or excitement? Is the tension in our muscles anger or fear? Those around you gave you labels for what you were experiencing in your body with statements like, "You're such a ball of nerves today," "Stop crying, you're just mad you didn't get your way," or "I'm guessing you're pretty mad at your mom."
Reinforcement is a term used in operant conditioning to refer to anything that increases the likelihood that a response will occur. If every time you stay home on Sunday night your child performs better on the tests on Monday, and you are more likely to stay home because of that, then your child performing well on Monday tests reinforces your staying home the night before. When other people reinforce you for being with them, you want to socialize more. There are many reinforcers for behavior. Among the naturally occurring reinforcers, social reinforcement is one of the most commonly occurring. Social reinforcers come from other people and include smiles, hugs, praise and attention. Social reinforcers are powerful. Acceptance and approval of others means you are part of the group/family and communicate that you are a lovable person.
Imagine that your daughter is late coming home. It's 3 AM and she hasn't called. The roads are wet--it's pouring rain. You are terrified. The minute she finally walks in the door, you're angry. You scream about how inconsiderate and irresponsible she is. Then she's back out the door, yelling that she hates you. You sit with your head in your hands. So many times you've been through this and promised yourself you'd handle it differently. But you can't just let her walk all over you, right?
Validation is the acknowledgement of your own or someone else's inner experience (feelings, thoughts, urges) and behaviors as understandable. Validation helps you improve communication with those you love. When you validate others, you create a safe context for them to express their...
Emotionally sensitive people are among the most compassionate and passionate people in the world. Often creative, you have talents as artists, writers, and musicians. You add to the caring and beauty of the world. Many times you also struggle with self-hatred, depression, anxiety, and horrible feelings of alienation. Those struggles are likely not due to your being emotionally sensitive. Much of your suffering may come from self-doubt and from an agonizing experience of being broken. That likely comes from what you are told and experience as a child.
Belonging means acceptance as a member or part. Such a simple word for huge concept. A sense of belonging is a human need, just like the need for food and shelter. Feeling that you belong is most important in seeing value in life and in coping with intensely painful emotions. Some find belonging in a church, some with friends, some with family, some on Twitter or other social media. Some see themselves as connected only to one or two people. Others believe and feel a connection to all people the world over, to humanity. Some struggle to find a sense of belonging.
Mark McGuinness, in his book resilience, points out that in your lifetime you will apply for opportunities and be rejected many times. You will work for goals you do not achieve. Even when you do succeed, you will be criticized, sometimes viciously. That criticism may be directed at you professionally or on a more personal level. Criticism is a part of life. Most people have at one time or another kept themselves from going after what they wanted because they were afraid of rejection, failure, or criticism. For the emotionally sensitive, this is a common experience. Sensitivity to rejection and criticism can be paralyzing in both work and social situations. What you want to do may be simple or it may be a complex endeavor. Whether it is to enter a cooking contest or to go visit a friend across town, accepting criticism may be the price of going after your dreams.
There seems to be a strong stigma about loneliness. Many people will admit to being depressed before they'll talk about being lonely. Fearing being judged as unlikeable, a loser, or weird, they don't discuss their sense of aloneness, alienation, or exclusion. That horrible experience of being the last one chosen for teams in school seems to continue into adulthood, though the reasons are different. If you don't have friends, then there must be something wrong with you. Headlines that describe the Unabomber, John Hinckley, the mass murderer at Virginia Tech and other criminals as loners add to the fear of being judged if you are alone. I'm no talking about solitude. Loneliness is a different experience than solitude. Solitude is being alone by choice and wanting that aloneness or being comfortable with it. Loneliness means there is a discomfort-- you want to be more connected to others.
If you are working on developing new coping skills, you may find that understanding the skills and how they work is much easier than actually using the skills. You may be able to tell someone else about the skill, write out the steps involved, and answer questions about it but find you do not use it in your life. You may find that you keep going back to familiar ways of dealing with emotions and stress, even when those old ways are not good for you in the long run.
Researchers in positive psychology tell us that we are more content when we savor the positive that happens in our lives. But focusing on the positive isn't natural for many people. We tend to see and think about what we dislike, fear and what has hurt us more than we recognize and replay what we cherish. So maybe the end of the year is a great time to remember what you are grateful for...