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