I’m going to start by saying straight off: Self-validation is important. It is not selfish or egotistical. In fact, it is part of giving ourselves permission to be who we are made to be. To celebrate our wins. To build our confidence. To embrace who we are.
Just to be clear, self-validation doesn’t mean that you believe your thoughts or are justified. Self-validation is not justification. Yes, there will be times in life when something will happen and your thought response will surprise you. It won’t fit with your core values and beliefs. You’ll be tempted to judge yourself and fight against the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. Self-validation is about accepting your internal experience, your thoughts and your feelings, regardless of circumstances. It is not necessarily about agreeing to them but processing them. In fact, self-validation will help to calm you. And ultimately it will free you from barriers to your growth and/or the judgement you are carrying.
For my Faith friends, self-validation doesn’t interfere with God validating you either. Contrary to popular teachings, the two can actually coexist. Self-validation is critical for living with emotions, having them enhance life but not rule life. Emotions enrich our experience of life. But left unchecked often act as a guide more than rational thinking or our values do. This is where trusting the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is important. With the Spirit guiding you, your seeking self-validation won’t be contrary to the nature of God.
Here are my top tips for self-validating without becoming consumed by self:
- Be present. Give yourself permission to sit with your thoughts and feelings. Being present means listening. Listening to yourself and listening to God. It’s not always easy but it’s always worthwhile.
- Reflect accurately. Stick to the facts. Labelling what you are experiencing accurately involves separating yourself from your thoughts and feelings to identify them. Ask for help here. A trusted voice can provide the perspective we so often lack for ourselves.
- Normalise it. Everyone has emotions. Everyone has struggles and self doubt. Remembering that you are human and part of shared experiences can be a helpful part of self-validation and letting go of self-judgement. It frees you from shame.
- Remember, you are not your behaviour just as you are not your thoughts. Yet changing your behaviours may help your growth and how you experience life. You are allowed to change and grow. Course correction in life should be celebrated! In fact, God wants you on a pathway to growth and wholeness. It’s part of healing. It’s part of redemption.
Self-validation is part of taking hold of the freedom offered to us. But like most things, it’s a spectrum. We can lean to far too self-hate and we can lean to far too self-praise. The healing and freedom we seek comes in the middle…. A swaying rhythm of balance. It will never be a perfect straight line but it will be a beautiful dance of imperfect progress. And that my friends, is better than any impossible standard of perfection that leads nowhere.
So go ahead. Be radical and love yourself. It’s okay to affirm yourself. Start with self-validation. It’s an important part of the process to healing. In fact, it’s the beginning of freedom.