Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Something to think about....

I went to a daylong lecture a few weeks ago which was lead by Kenneth Hardy, PhD. This workshop was fascinating. I could go on for pages about all the interesting points and insights that came up during this workshop, but what but what I really wanted to share was a relatively simple concept that came up over and over again: Validation.

Whether we feel devalued because of our skin color, our preference for the same sex, being born into poverty, or because of our country of origin, it doesn’t matter. As you can imagine feeling as though you don’t have value can lead to various difficulties and challenges in life. It impacts us all, and is a critical component in how we think, feel, and behave. We are all human with our own struggles and we all want to feel heard and more importantly validated. As Dr Hardy shared, the cure for feeling devalued is to be validated.

I wanted to take a few minutes to encourage us all to look at the ways in which we contribute to making other’s feel devalued. We devalue others all the time without thinking about it. When we make fun of someone else’s culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc. When our child has a bad day at school and we reprimand rather than listen. When we pass judgment on someone based on the way they look. When we are having a disagreement and find ourselves fighting to be right without ever trying to really hear and understand where the other person is coming from.

Validation doesn’t mean you condone poor behavior, it just means you understand where it comes from. Validation doesn’t mean you agree with someone. It simply means that you can see where they are coming from and that they have a different belief or experience than you do. My hope is that we all become more aware of how we devalue others, and at times even ourselves. Whether it is that you pass less judgment on a stranger based on their appearance or you validate your child’s thoughts and feelings more today than you did yesterday. Maybe during a heated discussion with your partner you validate their experience and feelings instead of focusing on winning the fight. Maybe we take a few minutes to understand someone’s anger instead of becoming angry ourselves.

In the end, we all have the same need to be heard and feel that we have value.