Searching for Validation
A lot of us find ourselves fighting with someone to get them to understand our emotions or our reasons for feeling a certain way. We spend hours and tear wrenching hours for that matter trying to get our thoughts across to someone else, just trying to get them for once to say that they understand why we feel this way or to hear them agree with our justification of our feelings.
I want to free you from that, hopefully, to some degree. Yes, I agree with you in the search for validation and I know it far too well, some times on a daily basis. This validation is sought from people at work, our spouses, our children, our counselor, just any and everyone. I know that I shopped around, so to speak, just to find someone who agreed with me so then I felt justified in my actions when I eventually acted upon my feeling or emotion.
The secret is, your feelings and emotions are yours. They are very personal and are drawn from the experiences you have lived through, the choices you have made during your life time, and the future hopes and dreams you have for yourself and others around you. These emotions, fears, feelings of anger, sadness, hatred, hurt are all from inside of you and are yours. You validate them on your own. They are not morally right or morally wrong and you do not need anyone to agree with you for you to “allow” yourself to have the emotion. Events in life will impact people in a different manner and there is no need for you to find that person who would have felt that way if the same happened to them.
A good example I can think of is this: My wife and I are talking about buy a car. During that conversation, I observe her, in my opinion, cut me off and not listen to my questions or suggestions. I immediately shut off my conversation with her and am accused of being rude or uncooperative. What I feel is hurt and slighted and especially disregarded as if my opinions don’t matter and I am just standing in the way of her getting the car she already decided upon anyway. So we will have an argument later, we know it will eventually turn into an argument when one of the spouses shut down as I did in this example, because we both want to restore the relationship, but I am the one who, in my mind at least, has been hurt. I so desperately want to hear her say, “I can see how you feel that I disregarded you,” or, “I can see why you are hurt.” So I give example after example and to no avail. She never raised her voice at me, she listened to each suggestion (in her memory of the conversation), and she is still willing to continue the discussion. So we end up in a stalemate because I will not get my vindication or validation from my wife. I can take my search for validation from other places, like talking with other men or unfortunately maybe talking with other women. You can see this is a very vulnerable place for our marriage relationship to be, one of us looking for validation of our own personal emotion and feeling. In this example, my feelings are easily identified, I can point them out and describe them. There are other times when you don’t readily know why you feel a certain way and are just unsettled. Again, this is a potentially dangerous situation to be in due to extramarital influences and our desire to feel vindicated.
So, the freedom comes when you let yourself have a feeling without having it validated by anyone else. If I feel, as in the example above, that I was being disregarded, then that’s fine and it is true and accurate in my mind at the time I had the feeling/thought. We should, well, must, express that feeling to our spouse, but not in the context of looking for them to approve it or accept it. If this is a work situation, simply expressing the emotion in written or spoken form, without attitude and argument, is still very helpful and beneficial not only to yourself, but to the workplace environment. Holding in the emotion is often more dangerous than simply expressing it in a non-hostile manner to those who may have, in your mind, been the cause of the stress.
Go ahead and have your emotion, process it, and own it. You may find out later that it was the “incorrect” emotion to have or you may find out later that it was totally justified. Either way, there is no need for you to struggle with convincing others that they would feel the same way as you do. Take back your freedom from depending upon others for their approval of your emotions. Take your emotions to the Lord knowing that in Him you have an advocate Who has known all struggles and temptation, Who is full of grace and mercy, Who accepts you just as you are, with all of your feelings and emotions.
I hear coming from “purists” out there who might say that our emotions or feelings are sinful. Let’s be clear, an emotion is just that, a reaction to the stimulation we perceive as happening. Emotions are normally temporary and totally driven by perception and not necessarily based upon solid and direct fact. I hear them saying that Jesus’ words of caution say that our thoughts are sinful and they would use the example of “if you lust after a woman in your heart than you have committed adultery.” I can tell you this, an emotion/feeling is not immediately stemming from the heart, or processed by the heart. Our emotional responses can be an immediate flight or fight feeling full of adrenaline due to the stimulation in our environment (whatever it may be that is happening). These are not the sin to which Jesus was referring. To hate someone or lust after someone from my heart is much deeper than an immediate reaction to the environment. It is a calculated, dwelling, deep thought and sometimes planned out or dreamed out action that we have allowed to pass from just head reaction to heart reaction, this is the sin. So there is no need for you to have to debate over your emotion’s or feeling’s sinfulness. The answer is always no unless you somehow act out or store and dwell on it in your heart.
In essence, I want to get across to you that you should feel free to have your emotions and feelings and not worry about explaining them or justifying them to others. Allow yourself time to process and heal from your initial hurt or initial thoughts, pray about them, but in no means be dependent for the validation of them from others. This is in a sense how we can “be angry and sin not,” we simply allow ourselves time to be angry and process that anger but do not allow that anger to drive us to hurt someone in our heart or worse, hurt them in the physical sense.
I hope this helps. If not, then I will say this, “I validate your feeling and emotion, right now. You have full justification in feeling this way. Now, pray about it and handle this the right way.” There! That should help.
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