In children, teenagers, adults and couples: why is validation of the self so important in our lives?

What do we mean by validation and why is it so important?

Last week I attended a training workshop on the topic of self-injury.

It was stated that in many cases of self-injury there is a history of some form of abuse. However, another factor which is seriously damaging to the (developing) psyche is invalidation where parents and other caregivers fail to acknowledge their children, punish, demean or embarrass them repeatedly for their behaviour or fail to believe them when the child reports a serious concern such as bullying or sexual abuse.

A sense of being valued for our uniqueness is essential for healthy psychological development and for a sense of psychological coherence and wellbeing.

As parents, friends and lovers we need to remember this. I believe that if each of us could commit to treating all our significant others (and also our acquaintances) with respect and a non-judgemental attitude (even though the latter can often be extremely difficult!), we could not only build up the self-esteem of those who matter the most to us in our lives, but we could also greatly improve the quality of all our relationships!

Of course, this is easier said than done, and a great deal of what I do in therapy with individuals and couples is coaching in the necessary skills to become validating and also self-validating!

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