17 Signs of Parental AlienationIt is important to note that these are signs that may or may not lead to Parental Alienation. The following list is taken from "Beyond the High Road: Responding to 17 Parental Alienation Strategies without Compromising Your Morals or Harming Your Child" (Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. and Paul R. Fine, LCSW, May 2008).
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ~Louise L. Hay
We all have techniques we depend on to lift our spirits when we’re feeling down about ourselves or our lives. A while back I realized something about the ones I’d found most effective when struggling to forgive or accept myself: Many of them involved seeking validation from other people. Some of my most effective mood-boosters included:
These are all perfectly valid approaches to feeling better, but they all hinge on praise and external support. Getting help from others is only one part of the equation. We also need to be able to validate, support, and help ourselves. With this in mind, I’ve come up with a few ideas to create a little more balance in my support system, making myself a more central part of it. If you’re also looking to increase your capacity for self-soothing so you can depend less on validation from others, you may find these ideas helpful:
1. Make a “you” section in your daily gratitude journal.Of course, this assumes you already keep a gratitude journal to recognize and celebrate all the good things in your day. If you don’t, you can still take a few minutes every day to give yourself some credit. Note down the things you’ve done well, the choices you’ve made that you’re proud of, the progress you’ve made, and even the things that required no action at all—for example, the time you gave yourself to simply be. When you regularly praise yourself, self-validation becomes a habit you can depend on when you need it the most.
2. Before seeking external validation, ask yourself, “What do I hope that person tells me?” Then tell it to yourself.Odds are, you aren’t always looking for someone’s advice or opinion when you come to them with a painful story. You’re looking for them to confirm you didn’t do anything wrong—or if you did, that you’re not a bad person for it. Essentially, you’re looking for someone else to see the best in you and believe in you. Give yourself what you’re seeking from them before making that call. Then by all means, make it if you want to. The goal isn’t to stop reaching out to others. It’s to be there for yourself. The words you want to hear from someone else will be far more powerful if you fully believe what they’re saying.
3. Recognize when you’re judging your feelings.If you’re in the habit of feeling bad about feeling down or insecure, or generally having emotional reactions to emotions, you will inevitably end up feeling stuck and helpless. Get in the habit of telling yourself, “I have a right to feel how I feel.” This will help you understand your feelings and work through them much more easily, because you won’t be so deeply embedded in negativity about yourself. Once you’ve accepted your feelings, you’ll then be free to seek support for the actual problem—not your self-judgment about having to deal with it.
4. See yourself as the parent to the child version of you.I know this one might sound odd—bear with me! Many of us didn’t receive the type of love, support, and kindness we needed growing up, and this may have taught us to treat ourselves harshly and critically. When you’re looking for that warm, fuzzy feeling that emerges when someone you trust tells you, “Everything is going to be okay,” imagine yourself saying it to your younger self. Picture that little kid who tried so hard, meant no harm, and just wanted to be loved and cherished. This will likely help in deflating your self-criticism and fill you with a genuine sense of compassion for yourself. Once again, this doesn’t need to be an alternative to seeking compassion from others; it just provides a secure foundation from which you’ll be better able to receive that.
5. Get in the habit of asking yourself, “What do I need right now?”Oftentimes, when we’re feeling down on ourselves, we feel a (sometimes subconscious) desire to punish ourselves. When we reject or deprive ourselves in this way, we exacerbate our feelings, because we then feel bad about two things: the original incident and the pain we’re causing ourselves. If you’re feeling down, or down on yourself, ask yourself: “What does my body need? What does my mind need? What does my spirit need?” Or otherwise expressed: What will make you feel better, more stable, healthier, and more balanced? You may find that you need to take a walk to feel more energized, take a nap to feel better rested, practice deep breathing to clear your head, or drink some water to hydrate yourself. This is validating yourself in action. Whenever you address your needs, you reinforce to yourself that they are important, regardless of whatever you did or didn’t do previously.
One more thing has helped me tremendously in validating myself: accepting that it’s okay to need reminders like these. There was a time when I saw this as something shameful - an indication that other people who seemed self-assured were somehow better than me. I wondered why self-kindness didn’t always come instinctively. But when I stopped judging myself, I remembered all the experiences that helped shape my critical inner voice. It wasn’t a sign of weakness that I needed to put in some effort; it was a sign of strength that I was willing to do it. It’s one of life’s great ironies, that it feels so natural to feel bad about feeling bad. All this does is keep us stuck. When we stop blaming ourselves for having room to grow, we’re free to focus our energy on doing it.
Do you have any techniques for validating yourself?
Author: Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She’s also the author of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal and other books and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. For daily wisdom, join the Tiny Buddha list here. You can also follow Tiny Buddha on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Learn to accept your internal experience and build your identity.
Validation means to express understanding and acceptance of another person's internal experience, whatever that might be. Validation does not mean you agree or approve. Validation builds relationships and helps ease upset feelings. Knowing that you are understood and that your emotions and thoughts are accepted by others is powerful. Validation is like relationship glue.
Self-validation is accepting your own internal experience, your thoughts, and your feelings. Self-validation doesn't mean that you believe your thoughts or think your feelings are justified. There are many times that you will have thoughts that surprise you or that don't reflect your values or what you know is true. You will also have feelings that you know aren't justified. If you fight the thoughts and feelings or judge yourself for having them, then you increase your emotional upset. You'll also miss out on important information about who you are as a person. Validating your thoughts and emotions will help you calm yourself and manage them more effectively. Validating yourself will help you accept and better understand yourself, which leads to a stronger identity and better skills at managing intense emotions. Self-validation helps you find wisdom.
Learning to self-validate is not so easy. Notice that mindfulness and self-validation go hand in hand. Being mindful of the thoughts you are having and the feelings you are experiencing is necessary before you can validate that internal experience. Marsha Linehan defined six levels of validation. But how do you apply these six levels of validation to self-validation?
1. Be Present: To be mindful of your emotions without pushing them away is consistent with Linehan’s first level of validation: being present. To be present also means to ground yourself and not dissociate, daydream, suppress, or numb your emotions. Being present means listening to yourself. Feeling the pain of sadness, hurt, and fear is challenging and difficult. At the same time, avoiding emotions often results in quite negative consequences, while accepting emotions allows them to pass and helps build resiliency. Being present for yourself validates that you matter and that you have the strength to feel. Being present with your internal experience means you experience the body sensations that are part of your emotional experience.
2. Accurate Reflection: To reflect means to make manifest or apparent. For self-validation, accurate reflection is acknowledging your internal state to yourself and labeling it accurately. Perhaps you reflect on what triggered the emotion and when the precipitating event occurred. Maybe you reflect on the ways you feel the emotion in your body and consider the actions that go with the emotion. Reflecting means observing and describing, components of mindfulness as Linehan defines it. When you observe and describe your internal experience, you do not interpret or guess or make assumptions. You would say, “I feel angry, and it started yesterday after my friend canceled lunch. I sense tightness in my stomach, so maybe there is fear as well.” Saying, “I am a total loser, and no one wants to spend any time with me,” would not be stating the facts of your experience. Stating the facts of your experience is validating and helps build trust in your internal experience. Interpreting your experience in ways that you cannot observe to be true invalidates and leads to distrust in your internal experience and more
3. Guessing: Sometimes you won’t be sure what you are feeling or thinking. In these situations, you may want to say something like, “If someone else were in this situation, they would probably feel sad. Am I sad?” You might also guess by looking at the actions you want to do. If you want to hide, maybe you are feeling shame. Maybe you are thinking shame thoughts. You can notice where you feel body sensations: fear, for example, is often felt in the throat. If you are feeling fear, maybe you are thinking scary thoughts. Guessing your emotions and thoughts based on the information you have will help you learn more about yourself.
4. Validating by History: Sometimes you will have thoughts and feelings that are based on events which have happened in your past. Maybe you are afraid when people argue, because, in the past, arguments led to your being hurt. Validating yourself by saying, “It’s acceptable and understandable that you are afraid of arguments, because when you were young, your parents would hurt each other during arguments."
5. Normalizing: Sometimes people who have intense emotions don’t see any of their emotional reactions as being normal. Everyone has emotions. No one is happy all the time. It’s normal to feel sad, angry, hurt, ashamed, or any other emotion. At the same time, it’s just as important to validate when others would feel the same way and accept that as well. If you are sad because you didn’t get a job you wanted, remember that others would be sad if that happened to them. Check out whether what you are feeling is what most other people would experience, and validate those feelings as normal, even if you don't like experiencing them.
6. Radical Genuineness: In terms of self-validation, this means being your real self and not lying to yourself. It means that you don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t. Rejecting who you are is one of the highest levels of invalidation. An important distinction is that who you are is different from what you do. You are not your behaviour, yet changing some of your behaviours may alleviate some of your suffering.
Self-validation is one of the critical steps for living with intense emotions. It is part of forming relationships and thriving. Practice and more practice will help you self-validate more easily.
Karyn Hall, Ph.D., is the director/owner of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center in Houston, Texas, and a consultant/trainer with the Treatment Implementation Collaborative.
In Print: The Power of Validation: Arming Your Child Against Bullying, Peer Pressure, Addiction, Self-Harm, and Out-of-Control Emotions