The Daily Groove


Implicit Validation

Much is said about the importance of validating children's feelings — telling children that it's okay to feel how they feel.

What's rarely acknowledged is that children innately know their feelings are valid, so they don't need explicit validation unless they've been previously invalidated.

When the child's inherent sense of worthiness is intact, the real beneficiary of explicit validating is the parent whose feelings were invalidated in childhood.

Children derive greater benefit from implicit validation, which is most powerfully expressed when we are willing to be fully present with them as they move through their emotions.

No words are needed to validate implicitly. You never say, "It's okay to be happy," you just know it's okay. So why say, "It's okay to be sad/mad/etc," if so-called "negative" emotions are just as valid as the "positive" ones?

You'll find it easier to stay present if you hold this thought: Children who have strong feelings are blessed with strong Inner Guidance.

Re: Implicit Validation

Scott,

How do you re-validate people when they have been invalidated?

Re: Implicit Validation

Firstly, I maintain that implicit validation is generally more powerful and beneficial than explicit validation, i.e., knowing is more powerful than talking.

But there are circumstances in which a person has been so painfully invalidated that they actively continue invalidating themselves as a kind of defense mechanism. Those people may benefit from validation statements like...

  • "It's okay to feel that way."
  • "I can understand why you feel that way."
  • "There's nothing wrong with you having those feelings."
  • "You have every right to feel strongly about that."
  • etc...

Such words will be better received when accompanied by implicitly validating gestures like making eye contact, offering a hug or other supportive touch, and generally showing a willingness to be fully present with them as they are.

The pitfalls of explicit validation include...

  • It can turn into a commiseration session that keeps both parties stuck emotionally.
  • Justifying feelings reinforces the disempowering habit of conditionality.
  • Raising doubts: "If she thinks I need so much validation, she must think I'm really weak or insecure."
  • Turning them into "validation junkies" or approval seekers.

The advantage of implicit (unspoken) validation is that you have to feel valid and at peace within yourself in order for others to infer your appreciation of their validity.