As social animals, we’re wired to seek connection. We desire connection and we thrive on connection. Our experiences and thoughts about connection though, can vary dramatically. Acquaintances, friends, family, colleagues, classmates, co-workers- all people in our lives but we are connected to in some way or other. But our connections go beyond this, we’re connected to people we cross paths with, people we learn from, people that teach us life-long lessons that we don’t ever forget.
The way that these connections we form impact our mental health is so important for us to look at. What we see, what we observe, what we learn and the quality of relationships we have with other people has such a huge impact on us. Forming connections where we feel safe, with people who motivate us and inspire us to show up as our authentic selves, to grow and to continue learning from our experiences is so important.
Something that comes to mind often when thinking about good mental health is community support and the quality of personal relationships in our lives. Feeling like you have a strong support system to lean in can be beneficial for your mental health and create a sense of belonging. Feeling like you have people in your life to share your feelings with, to just vent with and share your joys with can increase motivation and help cope with stress.
A big part of connection is acceptance, we wish to feel accepted by others around us for who we truly are. Feeling accepted can play a large role in creating the sense of belonging that I mentioned earlier. This is where validation comes in. Validation is the acceptance of another person’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Self-validation is the acceptance of your own feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
Validation helps us feel cared for, loved, and understood. The connections we form play a huge role in how understood and accepted we feel. While seeking this validation externally is understandable it is also important to focus on self-validation. How can we validate ourselves?
While I feel that this is a much bigger question than what my blog can attempt to answer I would still like to try to answer it. Some ways to self-validate:
1) Pay attention to how you talk to yourself
2) Encourage and support yourself
3) Practice self-acceptance
4) Work on understanding judgments and biases that may be harming you
5) Focus on understanding your behaviors and what may be causing them
6) Be kind to yourself
not easy, it requires you to practice mindfulness, awareness and focus on all
your thoughts and experiences, especially the hard ones. While it may be hard,
it is not impossible for us to find ways to validate ourselves. Validating your
own thoughts and feelings can be empowering, it can help you feel calmer and
help you gain better and deeper understanding of yourself. Gaining a better
understanding of yourself can help you grow in more ways than one.