Why to Learn Validation?

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Blue Nun and Us

I took your questions as a great opportunity to rethink. I've been practicing and teaching Validation for 10+ years. Sometimes I like to look back at what I've done, decide if it was a "good thing" or a "learning experience" and to refresh my views. 

My belief is that discovering Validation was a Wholly/Holy Wonderful thingy. 

But you asked why? So I thought for a while and came up with three answers – three benefits. Then I asked Sandra and she popped up with the other side of one of my three benefits. I'll be brief.

Reason #1: Safety.

If you live with another person your greatest risk is that they will keep critical secrets from you. You may be living in what I call a "Fact Void." Probably all of you who have lost a partnership have discovered this. It's what he/she wasn't saying and you weren't hearing that killed the relationship. The habit of Validation brings you face to face with what is going on inside your partner in a reliable trustworthy/trust building/trust maintaining way. The habit of Validation also makes for a reliable safe way for your partner to feel seen and not feel ignored – to speak up. Safety in relationship is created by the habit of Validation. That's my firm belief and my first reason. 

Of course if you don't want safety in a relationship, skip learning Validation. That's my corollary. 

Reason #2: Narcisism

In this culture I fear it is easy to develop narcissist habits. In the early part of my marriage, to make things simple, I think I was a "narcissist prick". Of course I learned these skills from my parents and the people around me, on TV, etc. I've learned that the future for all NPs is to live alone with everyone hating you – just a matter of time. Or you can learn to quit those habits. The prime missing element in NPs is their ability to be empathic. I firmly believe Validation is a specific skill to teach habits of Empathy and to remove the catastrophic habits/consequences of being NP.

Of course if you want to live alone, skip learning Validation and also skip learning Empathy.  Just my thoughts. 

Reason #3: Self-Esteem

A normal problem in raising kids or running relationships or, hell, the welfare state is the tragic lack of self-esteem in most everyone. Learning to have or build self-esteem, guiding people into self-esteem is I believe a direct result of the application of Validation. Teaching people that they don't have to be like you, also teaches them that they are responsible for their happiness and misery. They can make their choices. They cannot be victims. I've learned that any sane culture wants people to have high self-esteem because those people are more productive toward the culture. I've learned that if you have to build self-esteem in secrecy, then your productivity will tend to be simply rebellious and culture-negligent/destructive. I firmly believe that Validate builds self-esteem. That's my third reason. 

Of course if you just want to stay a victim or just want people around you to be victims, skip learning Validation. Just my thoughts. 


Why to Learn Validation? — 10 Comments

  1. I think I am with TC on this. Check out your definition of PreValidate once more. PreValidate or Validate has nothing to do with “approve” or “like” etc. It has to do with understanding and being able to move toward solution to relationship problems. I do no think of it as a gift, to be given or withheld. I think of it as a tool for getting along.
    If he barely has contact with “our” kids, I think it would lead to understanding him and why he holds himself back. What is he trying to do?
    Treat her the same. What leads her to act the way she does? She makes sense, and your being unable to see her sense puts you at a severe disadvantage, I fear.

  2. Thanks for your comments TC, they did make me think. And I also take the point of the three main reasons you listed – one of which Al pointed out to me in an earlier post – that I was probably being too serious – and yep, I was. Marriage breakdown, four kids, spouse behaviour pointing to something going on with someone else, but denying it – and him going from family man, proud father of four to …… virtually nothing. I know this sounds like a litany of blame and excuses, however that is what happened – and me? the last two years have been hell – the absolute pain of watching someone you love cutting connections and shifting their affections has been agony. Your comment that perhaps he is avoiding a BIGGER pain really made me think – hmmmm ….. this could be the case, but do they ever face up to that pain? Anyway, thanks for that will mull over it for longer.

  3. Hi Kez… I'll interject my two cents here. First, I don't think you are expected to “agree” in part because no one is telling you that you “should” prevalidate. That is a personal decision that you alone can come to make. Secondly, my thoughts as to how do you validate anything he/they do? Well, maybe for the time being you don't. Seems tough to validate a person and their actions when you don't understand them. I think this is where prevalidation comes in. You prevalidate them by realizing that their actions make sense, only you don't know what that sense is yet. Once you do, then you're in a better place to choose to validate them. Anyways, that's how I've come to understand it. And hey, it is quite possible I think that they themselves do not fully know what their sense is yet, only that it works for the time being. What think?
    I also really take to heart a thought that Al shared recently in one of his posts (not sure if here or elsewhere.) He pointed out that there are three main reasons why people do what they do: 1) because it makes them feel good (to me this includes feeling “safe”), 2) because it allows them to avoid pain, and 3) because it allows them to avoid a/the BIGGER pain. That last one (avoiding the bigger pain) really impacted me once it sank in conceptually. Helps explain why people sometimes choose to do something that hurts them. In the long run, they may be avoiding a bigger hurt elsewhere. Wow.

  4. Hi Al,
    Whoa….. Okay I can prevalidate and validate him… but her as well? Someone who has manipulated and schemed to break up two marriages (and yeah I get that if he wasn't unhappy etc. it wouldn't have worked) break the hearts of spouses and kids (six kids involved altogether who have been adversely affected)????? I don't think so. And as for the dangerous audience – what about what they are doing! Who are the one's being dangerous? I have read and re-read all of your topics, have learnt patience and prevalidated and validated him till the cows come home – and they have planned things in secret – because they know its wrong!
    Al, I just can't agree that I should prevalidate 'them'! He barely even has contact with our kids now – how do you validate that?
    regards, kez

  5. Thanks for this comment, which I greatfully digest as the “You havn't been good enough!” has gnawled inside of me due to finding my ex… distorting, blaming, etc, him seeming to have jumped from a relation with me to what appears to me as a very destructive relation. We were together for 20 years and so this? Strange statements, him contradicting himself in mails, my children telling about fiers quarrels and verbal/emotional attacks from his new partner directed also towards them. The Social welfare department now investigating the situation. Me asking myself – did he lie when he told me I was his best friend or does he lie now when he claims I have opressed him for 20 years (while publicly denying the quarrels in his present relation to be anything else but ordinary conflicts such as one can find in any normal family)? I know he had a background and childhood that was abusive, but I thought that he'd get a chanse to heal in our relation. Yet I stand here now after 20 years in a concluding that he seems to have brought all “his demons” with him, and that in his imagination I've been transformed into the Opressor. And thanks to you I've seen how I've been put in the Master role, even if having been aware enough to resist it to a certain extent. But I can control my own way to relate, but I can never control how the other person perceives me or how s/he imagines me.
    So in my case I see how it isn't merely me, but how he placed his former wife in such a position too. Now I realize how much he affected my perception of her, and I understand how bad the cooperation between them must have been in regards to their two children. But, informed by him, I also blamed her as he seemed so timid, so opressed, so well meaning, so… eager to do right, so eager to help, so conflict avoiding, so… Yes, I don't think I need to tell you any more. In many ways he did appear as the “perfect partner”, but… I understand now the magnitude of the problem. Also his desire to trigger quarrels, even if he had the most beautiful strategy of always triggering it off as “the Victim”, painting me out as “the Opressor”. I've read lately how much a person can desire the resolution, the coming together after a quarrel, as this gives reassurance. I often thought of these quarrels having similarities with alcohol abuse, and now I realize that it must have been so. Probably this is what has attracted him to the new partner he has, who seems to offer on one hand fierce quarrels, on the other lots of praise, tenderness and loving.
    But I've surely had the tendency to put the blame on myself for his… well, he claimed I opressed him for 20 years, but I didn't understand how. Then I realize that our relation was founded on his trying to please me and be as how he perceived me to want him to be. I didn't have to do anything to achieve that. He was raised to do so in order to get some safety and validation. And I know he is lying to me or lied to me and before I always asked him why, as it was about silly, ordinary “human” things that would hardly make me react. Now he is doing it BIG and I can see his fears and his dilemma, but I'm helpless. I can't give him the validation he would need. His own way of judging is such that… And it was always so, I belive. What chanses did I have to “fix that” by means of my own behaviour? I beleive that in some relations one can only fix ones own and get out of it… Co dependency. I've read a lot about co-dependency lately, and yes, in some cases it is better to realize that one can only fix ones own and get out of it.

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