Several years ago I read a book that spoke into my life on many levels. One word jumped from the pages into my brain and I have spent the years since embracing and better understanding the word validation, the process of recognizing the authenticity of one’s emotions or possibilities.
A well-meaning parent, teacher, or friend can undermine one’s potential by carelessly ignoring or carelessly discounting the importance of one’s passion or feelings. I am in awe of how often I speak to people who simply believe they can’t do whatever it is they really want to do because they have had others tell them they can’t. They believe a lie. They believe it because they lack the confidence to prove otherwise. They didn’t feel the freedom of authenticity because they weren’t validated.
I believe there to be a strong impact on one’s self-confidence when they are not validated. When a child is told she can do anything she wants when she grows up, that child has the confidence to try. To believe in the possibilities. When an adult is told he is not a salesperson, not a creative, that his idea has no merit…..he believes it and he loses faith in his ability to learn, to grow and to change. He closes the door to the possibilities.
I have seen the power of validation in letters I receive from people who tell me they believed they weren’t creative at all, they felt deprived of a passion that had once brought joy and energy into their days. When someone validated them with simple words of encouragement, pointed out to them what was apparent by their style or their words, a spark of determination was ignited and they began to work harder uncovering long buried passions, tapping into inner resources they thought they didn’t have. They went on to write that book, paint that painting. They went on to become a speaker, a storyteller, a dancer. Because of a simple encouragement. Someone who said,
“I believe in you. I think you have untapped (or suppressed) skills and abilities you need to explore.”
I know well the power of validation and giving the gift to ourselves and to others of belief. My challenge to you is to find ways to validate others. A word of encouragement may change the course of another’s life. And in so doing, you may release resources within yourself that need exploring! What we tell ourselves is often a predictor of what is to come. What we tell others is just as powerful.