The way I see it, Validation and Encouragement are cousins, if not siblings.
And as one who loves being an encourager, I thought I knew and somehow practiced well the art of validation. But I was merely scratching the surface. The art of validation encompasses encouragement, in that it gives motivation and well meaning intentions towards it's recipient--building them up. But validation goes one step further and says, you, in the current state of events, in the confusion, in the unsettled-ness of it all-- You are seen. And your perspective and emotions, and your voice are valid.
That right there is a piece of love in action. Love does look like something. It feels like something. It creates momentum, gives courage and gives hope.
But we can't give away what we don't have.
Validation is as much about giving out as it is receiving.
Did you watch the video link I left in Validation: Part I ? "She" couldn't give away what she didn't have, but once she got it...she. got. it. And then she was able to give it away...
And often, people that are suspicious of validation, encouragement, or compliments, or think it's only for weak people, have encountered extreme disappointment, shame, and embarrassment when they did put their heart on the line and trust someone. So it becomes a bit easier to wall up, then to be bare and vulnerable. Trust me, I get it.
However, on the other side of that wall of suspicion lies a world of wonder, beauty, love, accomplishments, and lots of laughter. All the things you've been wanting more of in your life.
With that said, the only way to get "Unfrozen", is to "Let it GOOooooooo..."
Then, when you step out and give someone else encouragement and validation, and you see and feel their response, something comes alive in your heart as well. Their victory becomes your victory. It's like watching your favorite team play. You're invested. A new chamber in your heart comes to life.
It's a beautiful thing really. Just don't be afraid to receive this. This act of love being returned to you in the package of gratitude.
And please don't think you're too high and mighty, too pompous or pious, too grown or mature, or too strong and self-reliant to receive such validation in return.
Our hearts crave it. We were made for it.
Love begets love begets love, begets love. And the giver can't help but be blessed in return.
I think I'm actually addicted to encouraging others. At this point, it feels like second nature to me, and I honestly don't even notice when I do it. I only become aware when someone hugs me out of the blue or repeatedly says, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you--You have no idea how much that means to me."
And it's true. I may never know how much it means to them. But I do know what it means to me when someone pulls me out of the muck of despair and hopelessness and reminds me that I am seen, not forgotten, and that miracles and impossible things still happen each and every day. #forevergrateful
But how do we receive a sense of validation for ourselves, even when no one is around?
Here's my the secret:
I'm constantly having quiet times with God.
No matter what.
Growing up an only child, I may have an advantage over you. Because you see, us only children are so used to talking to ourselves that it feels completely natural and wonderful.
But just know that quiet times can look like a variety of things. You may want to go to a favorite place of yours, and just talk to Him. It might feel awkward at first, but you'll get past that.
Get still. Get loud. Read the book of John in the Bible. Go running. Dance. Etc. But have your mind set on hearing God and "following the clues".
It's amazing to me me how many times in the day God speaks to us in little ways: The billboard across the street that says "Dream Bigger", the ad on the bus stop that says, "Don't Quit", the license plate on the car in front of you that says "URLVD", or the cashier that says you look incredibly handsome or beautiful, just when you thought you didn't look good enough for your current crush.
Validation is like a mirror. A witness of sorts, authenticating who we are and our experiences and emotions as beautiful and important. Showing us that we are significant in the array of mess flying around our world each day.
Or on the flip side, the lack of validation, leaves us feeling incomplete, lost, left out, unworthy, and unlovable.
But we are never unlovable. And we are never unlovable by God. Ever. The end.
But this lie of being unworthy, not good enough, unlikeable, unlovable, starts to circulate around our hearts and our heads when we become validation starved.
Which brings me to my next point.
Why is validation from a man so important to me? If I were to deny that having some sort of validation from men wasn't important to me, I'd be lying. Now don't get scared, I'm not about to go lose my mind and go holler for a dollar. But there's something to be said when the opposite sex affirms your presence, who you are, your physicality (in a non-creepy way), and the things you do.
I mean, men, how affected are you by the words of women when they validate and lift you up?
--But before I go any further on this point, I want you to know that I have a GREAT father. I really do. I mean, you might want to be jealous. Real talk.
My dad and I have had some amazing heart-to-hearts over the years. But he has admitted to not being as emotionally available as he wanted to be during my teenage years and has expressed his regret and sincerest apologies. Because he now understands how important it is for a daughter to be affirmed and validated by her father in specific ways, regardless of works and performance.
I mean, I didn't know I even had such a need for this type of validation, not until I started working around so many men in my television industry. Don't get me wrong, I hold my own. But I also hold a lot in, and on those weak days, I need encouragement, validation--a simple knowing that I'm not in the trenches by myself. As would anyone.
Our culture wants to paint women (and men) as being so independent that they can do it ALL by themselves, but that's not quite how we are fashioned as human beings. We are meant to be in community, in fellowship, in family, in a tribe. The healthy and beautiful kind. Even, and especially when accomplishing a common goal, whether it be connection, understanding, or completing production on a television show...
Two of the biggest things I'm learning in this season in life about validation and how it can strengthen our friendships and relationships:
1. Never underestimate the power of listening. Listening in itself sends a sense of validation to a person without even saying a word. Hear their story. Let them talk. And really listen with the intent to understand not always solving a problem.
2. And don't forget to love yourself through the imperfections of communicating to another human being and possibly being misunderstood. It's okay. These things take time. But always worth it.
Furthermore, the extraordinary and beautiful thing you'll find on this journey--is what you do for others, you'll find others doing for you...
"A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”