The Power of Self-Validation

August 20, 2021

 A young girl is standing against a beige wall and starting at the camera. She's wearing black-rimmed glasses, a red headband and red boxing gloves. She flexing her arms muscles and has a smirk on her face.

Change and challenges are inevitable along our caregiver journey.

Fear usually follows and fear creates the feelings of hate, anger and resentment.

What if we tried to focus on those things that we can control - like acknowledging how we feel, accepting those feelings for what they are and then finding compassion in those moments?

Psychology Today says, "Self-validation is the recognition and acceptance of your own thoughts, feelings, sensations and behaviors as understandable.”

What if we turned these experiences of change and challenge on their head? Regardless of how we feel - sad, angry, disappointment, grief - we remind ourselves that these emotions are normal. 

In my experience, this approach has helped me shift from feeling helpless to feeling less helpless. That small move on the marker is still progress. When we can make that small move daily, after one week, we can look back and see that we have in fact shifted from feeling helpless to not helpless at all.

That’s the goal. To build that muscle of soothing ourselves and not relying so much on the validation of others.

What if we can take back our power as caregivers and not give other peoples’ voices and opinions so much weight?

I can recall many instances where people said stupid things at the beginning of my caregiver journey. I remember a time when people saying, “I’m so sorry,” when they heard about Summer’s diagnoses would upset me.

Then, I had to gently remind myself that I had uttered those same exact words in the past when someone had shared similar news.  

As a recovering people pleaser, I know firsthand how intoxicating it is to align with the thoughts and views of others for acceptance and validation.

Remind yourself of how very strong you are. You are a frigging caregiver. 

One Debbie Ford quote that I believe to be true is “Our pain can be our greatest teacher. It leads up to places we’d never go on our own.” 

Yet, there are times when the pain that I feel in my throat, my heart and my stomach is all too much. THAT is not the time to remind myself of this quote. I simply want to curl up, eat junk food, binge watch Netflix and distract myself from my feelings.

While I do allow myself to do this, I have learned that I cannot let myself stay in that mind frame for too long.

And there is no magic length of time. Each person and experience are different. That being said, I do know myself well enough to feel/trust when I need to move from the wallowing in the pain to the self-validation of the pain.

This means acknowledging the pain, feeling the pain, sitting in the pain and then releasing the pain as best I can with grace and compassion.

Let’s honour those parts of our life that we actually control - how we think and how we act. That’s why recognizing and accepting our own thoughts, feelings, sensations and behaviours are so important to our overall wellbeing.

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