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A Validating Experience (Part IV)


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What does it mean to be validated? In what areas of life can one expect to be validated? What attitude, behaviors or actions convey a message (or feeling) to someone that s/he is being validated? How does one validate, or invalidate? What benefits are there to validating and being validated – in the short term as well as long term?

Some of these questions were addressed in the first three parts of this series. We processed the shivah experience of Reb Yochanan ben Zakai upon the death of his son. Why he was consoled by only one of his disciples and not the other four was the focus of a discussion on validating the bereaved. We also viewed Hashem’s validation of Adam’s predicament and needs. Despite Adam’s unsuitable and immature means of “asking” for that which he concluded was a necessity, Hashem ignored his attitude and provided him with a mate.

In this final segment, we will discuss the ins and outs of validation and invalidation, and conclude with a Torah thought that will fine-tune the subject.

Some people believe when they validate someone, they are, in fact, agreeing with or supporting that person’s thoughts and/or behaviors. And while it is possible to come to that logical conclusion, in truth, that assertion is inaccurate. Validation does not mean to agree with someone.

Webster’s dictionary defines validate as to confirm, recognize, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of. Wikipedia adds: to communicate that others’ opinions are acknowledged, respected, heard, and [regardless whether or not the listener actually agrees with the content], they are being treated with genuine respect as a legitimate expression of their feelings rather than [their feelings] being dismissed.

Let’s move to a broader perspective which will also answer some of the above questions. As you read the following verses, note, and consider the diverse ways in which we are invalidated and also validated.

When our feelings are negated and diminished

When our thoughts are judged and rejected

When our decisions are scorned and spurned

When our opinions are shunned and ignored

These are the times when we are being invalidated!

When our predicament is disregarded

When our situation is dismissed

When our position is devalued

When our needs arediscounted

These are the scenarios in which we are being invalidated!

When our mood is unappreciated and overlooked

When our space is imposed upon and invaded

When our privacy is infringed upon and violated

When our boundaries are encroached upon and trespassed

These are the areas where we are being invalidated!

When, as a child, we are distressed over the suffering of a parent,

be it physically

When, as a parent, we are anguished over the misery of a child,

be it emotionally

When, as a spouse, we are besieged by the pain of our soul-mate,

be it mentally

When, as a human being, we grieve over the loss of a loved one

Most certainly, there is a need to be validated!

There is a need for compassion and empathy.

There is a need to be listened to and understood.

There is a need to be accepted ‘as we are.’

There is a need to be comforted and consoled.

There is a need to be nurtured and supported,

To be respected,

To be acknowledged,

To be affirmed.

There is a need to feel and be connected.

There is a need to belong.

“Invalidation goes beyond mere rejection by implying not only that our feelings are disapproved of, but there is something wrong with us because we are not like everyone else; we are strange; we are different; we are weird. None of this feels good, and all of it damages us. When someone tells us, ‘Don’t feel that way,’ it is akin to telling water it should not be wet, or grass, it should not be green. Our feelings are real, whether or not someone likes or understands them. And when someone tries to stop us from feeling the way we do, that individual is being unrealistic as well as controlling.” *

I wonder how many of the following invalidating expressions look familiar and resonate with you. As you think about them, notice the possibility of viewing them as

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What does it mean to be validated? In what areas of life can one expect to be validated? What attitude, behaviors or actions convey a message (or feeling) to someone that s/he is being validated? How does one validate, or invalidate? What benefits are there to validating and being validated – in the short term as well as long term?

In the first two parts of this four-part series, we discussed the need to validate someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one. Utilizing a Rabbinic illustration, we presented the story of Rav Yochanan ben Zakai when he sat shivah for his son. The focus was on his receiving consolation: why he received comfort from his one student, Rav Elazer ben Aruch, and not from his other four students. Now let us move to a Biblical backdrop as we continue.

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/a-validating-experience-part-iv/2010/02/03/

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