To Validate = (1) to confirm the truth; (2) to register formally; (3) to make legal; (4) to make somebody feel valued.
Validation is a part of life. It starts in the home with our caregivers. It continues as we go to school. We are validated to various degrees with test scores and feedback from our instructors. Outside the classroom there is consistent validation on where we stand on the bell curve. The validators don’t place us there. We take their feedback and place ourselves on the axis—often unconsciously.
The validation principle doesn’t stop after our schooling is done. In fact it’s a staple. It continues as we live our busy lives.
Rather than fight the validation process, make sure you join it! How? Go beyond the external validations and validate yourself. Some refer to it as accepting yourself. That’s a good start. But how about validating yourself? This is where you say, “I feel good about myself. I feel good about what I’m doing. I am adding value.”
Comparing yourself is a trap unless you use it to validate differences and diversity. Diversity is great if you validate yourself. It then becomes a form of enrichment rather than entanglement and entrapment. What you think and say about yourself is more important than someone else’s attitude about you. Why? Because you live with yourself.
So listen to yourself, because nothing happens to you without you making some internal comment about it. Make sure it’s validating. You will have important conversations throughout your day, but the most important ones are with yourself.
It’s all about value. If you are willing to stretch, grow, and become more, you are valuable to the core. Imperfection does not invalidate your value. As one man put it, “No one drowns by falling in the water. They drown by staying there.” It’s all about the process of building and re-evaluating YOU. It starts everyday where you are, working on the value of you. Each day you make a new validating declaration.
Nothing will make your value go up the way you can. Any attempt to gain it from others is fruitless. It starts with you. We use the term “appreciation” in the financial world in a correct way. It refers to increasing value. As you appreciate yourself, you are validating yourself—adding value to yourself. You are appreciating.
Validation is acceptance, authentication, and endorsement. You do it first, and others will follow. The order is important. This is why validation breeds confidence. The reverse order is not nearly as effective, and often never materializes.
Embrace your uniqueness. Learn to forgive yourself. Keep your personal accounts short. Treat each day as a new day—a fresh start to be what you were meant to be. The side effect is that you will begin to validate others. It’s hard to do for others what you cannot—will not– do for yourself.
CAUTION! There will always be people who will doubt what you do and how you are doing it. There are different ways of doing things, and your way is one of them. Validation = Competence + Confidence. Own your way. If there’s a better way, you’ll do that next time. There is no failure—only feedback and an opportunity to grow.
Focusing on everything that is wrong is toxic. Strength comes from focusing on what is right and moving forward. When NASA sends up satellites toward another planet, they calculate that it’s off course about 98% of the time. Yet it arrives at its destination. How? They take the feedback, focus on the 2% that it’s doing right, and then move in that direction with all the adjustments. Start capitalizing and validating what’s right and see how far that takes you.
It is estimated that we have 50,000 thoughts per day. Each thought produces a chemical reaction in our brains that in turn triggers feelings and emotions throughout our body. There is a strong relationship between what you think and how you feel. Thinking is kind of like breathing. You are always doing both and so you tend to forget you are doing it. It’s easy to be unaware of how much your thoughts dictate how you feel every moment of everyday.
This is where practicing validation becomes highly valuable. By learning to make sure your self-talk is of a validating nature you will focus on the right things and more effectively manage your emotions.
Just like the satellite, it’s a process more than a destination. Let’s keep it going in the right direction.
As you believe in yourself and validate yourself, you will be successful in life.
(Mick Ukleja is the co-author of the book Who Are You? What Do You Want?: Four Questions That Will Change Your Life)