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How to validate your own feelings

Oct 15, 2009

Don't expect anyone else to do this for you. In fact, it may be more likely that you will experience minimization and invalidation of your feelings from others. This is easier to take from casual acquaintances, but many of us crave validation of our feelings from our close friends and family. And when we don't get it we feel very frustrated and angry.

But whose responsibility is it to validate our feelings? You guessed it. It is your responsibility to validate your feelings and no one else's. We will all be better off and less angry the sooner we recognize and accept this fact. And our relationships will be better off too, since we won't be placing unwarranted expectations on others. We need to stop expecting others to do our emotional work for us and start learning to support ourselves emotionally.

How do we do this?

1. We first of all must learn to believe in ourselves and our own ability to have valid feelings. If we feel hurt by something that happened we need to know that it is fairly likely that someone has done something hurtful or insensitive and that we are not having the feeling for nothing.

2. We need to normalize our feelings. This means we tell ourselves that our feelings are normal and natural. We need to tell ourselves that it is okay to feel the way we feel. We don't need to feel bad about ourselves that we feel sad or afraid. If we put down our own essence, which includes our feelings, this can lead to depression. We don't need to resist or repress our feelings of sadness or fear. Instead we just accept them as part of our humanness. In this way we validate our entire emotional self. We know that we don't have to be happy all the time to be okay. If we don't resist our negative feelings, they go away more quickly. If we do resist our negative feelings, and not accept them, it tends to lead to either anger or depression.

3. We need to understand that everyone doesn't have to feel the same way as us and everyone will not. If we are hurt about something and someone else is not, it doesn't mean our feelings are wrong. Our feelings aren't wrong and neither are theirs. We need to understand that feelings are never wrong. They just are. How we respond emotionally to something comes as a result of our life experiences and everyone's life experience is different. We need to accept our feelings as okay and everyone else's feelings as okay even if different from ours. By learning to validate others' feelings as okay, we are actually learning to better validate our own feelings.

4.We can learn to assert our feelings. This is easier to do once we have mastered items 1-3 above. Once we have fully accepted that it is okay if others don't agree with us and that they are entitled to their feelings, then it will be much easier to share how we feel. There is no risk involved in our sharing if we are not counting on the other person to agree with and validate our feelings. It is this expectation or need that the other person agree with us that stops many people from asserting themselves. Learning to assert ourselves with others is a powerful form of self validation and a healthy anger management tool.

5. We can learn to set healthier boundaries for ourselves by choosing more supportive friends. Although it is healthy to not expect our friends to always agree with us, it is unhealthy if we have friends who never agree with or support us. You at least want your friends to be willing to hear how you feel and acknowledge your feelings even if they don't agree with them. It is unhealthy to have a friend who always tells you your feelings are wrong, because remember your feelings cannot be wrong and neither can theirs.

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