The ONE Thing We All Need

This is Especially True After Narcissistic Abuse

The ONE Thing We All Need

You might be thinking that the ONE thing we all need is LOVE. And I agree that love is an essential component of a happy, healthy life.

However, in my experience, to really feel loved, we must first be validated. When we are seen, heard, and understood by others, we feel safe, connected, and supported. We all need validation at the most basic level.

Validation is the key that breaks the lock on your heart so that you can let love in. It is the antidote to the pain of rejection, as well as the spark that ignites our own self-love efforts.

What I Got Wrong About Self-Love

When I wrote, “Online Dating for Sensitive Women,” I focused on self-love and building confidence as essential tools for calling more love into your life. To that end, I featured numerous self-love activities and tips for building confidence. I stand behind everything I suggested, as I know those tools work in empowering one’s life, well beyond just dating alone.

However, shortly after publishing the book, I realized that in following the most popular advice regarding self-love at that time, I overlooked the validation piece, which now feels obvious. It is IMPOSSIBLE to fully love yourself if you are not validated by the people around you.

🎥I talked about this before in a YouTube video called, “What I Got Wrong About Self-Love,” and then expanded on the concept in another #CompassionateChat earlier this year if you prefer video format.

How Do I Know Validation is So Powerful?

My first real awareness regarding the power of validation came through watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. For a time, that show was my church. Every week I would tune in to watch Oprah interview a wide variety of successful and popular people, many of whom were experts on the ever-elusive topics of health and happiness, which have become the cornerstone of my life purpose.

In pretty much every episode, Oprah would share her own wise and well-earned knowledge, learned through countless interviews throughout her career. The basis of that advice was always some form of the tenant that all people need to be seen, heard, and understood. Humans truly thrive when they are supported and loved in that manner.

She should know, given that her brand of empathetic interviewing always gave people an element of validation. It also gave them a platform to share their unique perspectives. And, we all know the unbelievable impact that being interviewed by Oprah has on a person’s career. Authors became bestsellers. Gurus gained massive online followings. Oprah has the magic touch for catapulting people into fame and fortune. It all starts with her personal validation.

Invalidation is Abuse

Given the power of validation, it should come as no surprise that its opposite aspect, invalidation, can be deeply harmful. Narcissistic individuals deliver a significant portion of their emotional abuse through invalidation

Narcissists will deny or disregard another person’s feelings and experiences. They will also actively dismiss, ruthlessly criticize, and bully other people. If you are close to a narcissistic individual, their constant inability to see, hear, or understand you will leave you feeling empty, confused, unlovable, and sick.

Shame and Guilt Are Tools of Invalidation

In addition, narcissistic individuals love to shame and guilt other people by telling them they are “bad,” “mean,” “stupid,” “crazy,” “lazy,” or some other seemingly inherent, permanent quality.  It doesn’t matter if these harsh criticisms are true or not. If insults are delivered with conviction and repetition, people are highly likely to believe them. Furthermore, when we love or respect the person, or if they hold power over us, their words have even more credibility.

As I shared in the #CompassionateChat on Validation, I once had a spiritual teacher who I trusted and revered. When she cruelly admonished me by saying, “I’m not going to validate you,” after I shared something vulnerable, I felt ashamed and foolish.

It took me far too long to realize that trusting her had been a mistake. She was clearly using the pain and frustrations of the people who came to her for support to bolster her own insecurities, fragile ego, and desire for power and control. Some “gurus” don’t want their followers to heal and succeed, because then we wouldn’t need to give them our money and admiration.

In my former marriage, my now ex used to regularly ask me why I thought I was worthy of applying for certain jobs or achieving success. He never read any of my work, nor did he encourage my desire to write a book. It is no surprise to me that, while I was with him, I thought I lacked creativity and struggled to feel successful or fulfilled in my career and even in my life in general.

How Validation Heals

In contrast, as soon as I attracted a healthy, loving partner through online dating, my entire outlook changed and my health improved. My partner’s consistent validation and encouragement became the foundation for my growing sense of self-love, confidence, comfort, and security. His support has healed the part of me that the narcissists in my life were always picking at — the part that told me I was unlovable and not enough.

My partner counters my worries and self-doubts with words of inspiration and support. He has no desire to dim my light the way the narcissistic individuals around me always did. He recognizes, as I do, that when we let others shine brightly, we get to bask in all that light too.

That is one of the most beautiful aspects of validation: it is supportive for everyone, those who are offering it and those who are receiving it. It feels amazing to validate other people and share in the joy and love that it creates.

Validation is also one of the most connecting spiritual forces. It tells us that we’re not alone. It shows us that what we are experiencing in this challenging world is not weird, or that we are not being targeted or punished. It reminds us, as previously shared in “4 Tools for Finding Hope When Life is Hard,” that life is hard for EVERYONE!

How to Validate Others

Given how powerful validation is for our health and happiness, I think it is important for all of us to take an active role in validating those around us. Remember, none of us wants to feel alone, different, or weird, as those feelings disconnect us from others. They make us feel ashamed, unlovable, and unworthy of love and support.

One of the greatest roles we can undertake is to help our people feel less alone. Here are several ways how:

  • Listen with Compassion – Focus on listening more than you talk. This is particularly important when speaking to someone who is struggling. Remember that what they are saying might be vulnerable and scary for them. Honor how brave they are being in sharing it.
  • Exhibit Empathy – Always try to put yourself in other people’s situations. Simple statements like, “I’m really sorry that happened to you” or Wow – that must be hard?” are naturally empathetic and validating. It is amazing how quickly saying something like that can help a person feel better.
  • Try to Find the Positive – When people feel terrible, it can be helpful to support them in pointing out the positive. Statements like “You handled that so well.” “It’s a good thing you have such a good sense of humor,” or “I am amazed at how patient you were,” exhibit compassion without invalidating the person’s pain. We aren’t looking to provide toxic positivity, which can dismiss the person’s feelings. Instead, we are trying to help them see their strength.
  • Find Common Ground – If you’ve had a similar experience, it can help to share that, as it lets the person know they are not alone. It is important not to try to “one up” the other person or hijack the conversation to discuss your own problems. The key to this tactic is offering perspective and hope. If you got through a challenging situation, it tells others that they have that potential too.

Simple Ways to Nurture Connection and Validation

In addition to the above conversational tactics, there are lots of other easy ways in which we can naturally validate, support, and nurture our connections with others, including:

  • Smile 😍! This one is so easy, yet it has an incredible impact on others.
  • Say “Hello.” Again, like smiling, this is very easy and exudes warmth and positive energy.
  • Look people in the eye. I know this is a challenge for those with certain personality traits or trauma. If this is comfortable for you, it often creates a great deal of warmth and connection.
  • Like and comment positively on people’s social media. Again, this feels so easy to me, yet it holds a lot of power in helping others feel less alone.
  • Reach out to someone you admire or who inspires you, and let them know how much they mean to you. I’ve talked about this before in “Easy Gratitude Tools for More Joy.” A text, email, or even better, a handwritten card can literally change someone’s life. Why not use that kind of power for good?

Self-Validation is Powerful, But…

People will often tell us that we shouldn’t need external validation, that being able to validate ourselves and honor our own experiences is the purest form of power. While this is true, it is incomplete. As a social, interconnected species, we will always need the validation and connection of others. Not recognizing this, in my opinion, is why we are experiencing an epidemic of loneliness.

This is the entire reason why I started offering an affordable, Compassionate Coaching service. It is based on a desire to support people through their challenges in a neutral, accepting, and supportive way. It is an alternative to therapy, which doesn’t work for some of us because it often fixates on what is wrong with us instead of everything that is right. If you are in need of a pep talk or support, I would be happy to assist you. 💖

If you are financially limited, check out these free blogs that offer Empath Support and subscribe to my free weekly #CompassionateChats on the HappyHealthyHer YouTube Channel. As always, thank you for your support! 🙏🏻

Michelle Gibeault Traub is a health writer, compassionate coach, and the author of Free From Narcissists and Online Dating for Sensitive Women. Her mission is to help women be their best in body, mind & spirit. Sign up for Michelle’s FREE Gifts – The Natural Healing Toolkit and 33 Ways to Add More Joy to Your Life.

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