How do you say good morning to yourself? Is it pointing out the aches and pains in your aging body? Is it with criticism of how long you slept or all the things you didn’t get done that you had planned? Maybe you roll your eyes at yourself in the mirror, judging tired eyes or frazzled hair. For most of us, we don’t wake asking ourselves, “What do I need right now?”
What if we changed the conversation with ourselves? Researchers have found that addressing our own unique needs and providing self-validation can shift your mood, well-being, and other relationships in significant ways. Self-validation is acknowledging our own thoughts and feelings without criticism or judgment. Tuning into ourselves with that same gentle compassion and acceptance we show our friends or children is what we, too, deserve.
Phrases like, “It’s reasonable that I’m feeling this way,” “I accept that this situation feels (insert emotion here) for me,” “Most people would react the same way in this circumstance,” or “Given what I’ve been through in my life, it makes sense that these thoughts and feelings would come up” are a good starting point when practicing self-validation. When validating yourself, it’s important to remember that you are not agreeing with or justifying your internal experience. It’s about identifying that what you think and feel is valid.
Don’t Dismiss Yourself
Be aware of some of the things that others say to you that hurt your feelings or leave you feeling dismissed. This is not how you want to interact with yourself. Those phrases often start with “but” or “at least.” Dr. Brené Brown, LMSW talks about this idea in her short, Brené Brown on Empathy. There, her primary focus is on how we connect with others. I encourage you to stretch that connection inward and to show up to your inner conversation with that same empathetic nature. You are deserving of love, tenderness, and generous listening. Hold your feelings affectionately and use words that let you know that it’s okay to feel how you feel – self-validate.
Tune Into Your Needs
Once we have spent a moment gently sitting with our thoughts and feelings, I encourage clients (and myself!) to tune into their needs. “What would feel soothing, calming, or kind to me?” Going back to the conversation with, “What do I need right now?” Maybe it’s spending more time having a compassionate heart-to-heart with yourself. Perhaps, it’s going for a walk, laying down with your eyes closed, washing your face, journaling, or using guided meditation that would serve as a healthy way to connect with yourself and provide the comfort that you are needing, and deserving of, in those moments.
If you’re feeling stuck on how to self-validate or find that your coping skills toolbox feels depleted, it could be time to reach out to a therapist for some support. We are here!
Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland and Fenton, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Additionally, we offer psychiatric care in the form of evaluations and medication management. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.