Feelings, thoughts, behaviors, etc. serve as a means of communicating—they tell us something about ourselves, our circumstances, our relationships, our context, our patterns, our needs---often multiple things. If we begin to view those experiences and/or manifestations as symptomatic, rather than problematic, we are a step closer to their actual resolution. Mental energy is best spent in the form of curiosity regarding the meaning, purpose, and function of those things rather than endless wishing that they would just “go away”.
The self- talk that you “should not” think, do, feel, or believe as you do is never an agent of change, as it is portrays itself to be. Rather, it keeps one in an unproductive shame and guilt paralysis. Perhaps it may seem counter-intuitive, but why not embrace the reality for what it is? Afterall, wishing something was untrue makes it no less true. If you are unsure about this, ask yourself how many times telling yourself not to feel something actually yeilded the desired result.
Thoughts, feelings, and actions change as processing happens, as we come to new conclusions, have new experiences, and/or find more effective ways to approach things. So often, we want the end-product without the process in between. Perhaps this is due to an unspoken fear that if we give things permission to be the way they are that perhaps they will never change - - that in doing so, we have somehow welcomed them to stay forever in the degree and manner they currently exist.
Ironically, it is precisely the giving of permission for things to be as they are that oftentimes moves them to change. When we allow our feelings, thoughts, actions/reactions, and beliefs to become concrete by externalizing them ( i.e. written, verbal, or some other expression), we at least acknoledge what it is that we are facing. To the degreee that shame keeps us hiding or dismissing those realities, we stagnate and remain frustrated that change has not occurred. The original concern becomes clouded and complicated with feelings of inadequacy and despair at our inability to manufacture change. Sometimes, we think that if we could only push harder or be more determined, our internal experiences might be different. We blame ourselves for being "weak". Often, we end up resorting to short-term, counter-productive, temporary distractions or the all-too-familiar self-castigation method . Yet, things continue to resurface, albeit unwelcomed, until we are willing to take a much closer, non-critical, observatory look at them.
Let's discuss the idea of self-validation. Validation is to shift the focus from our judgments about things to our understanding of them. The emphasis is no longer on approval, but rather curiosity—which opens the door for change. We all crave validation, a place of kindness, patience, curiosity, and understanding in which we thrive. We need it from ourselves; we need it from others. We simply want to be understood.
Often confused with agreement, we frequently decline validation to ourselves and others. For emphasis, let us clarify again, that validation is not to excuse something, but rather to understand it. It is each person’s own responsbility to pursue self-understanding. Even if we find it in other places, we still have to offer it to ourselves first and foremost. It is our own responsibility to stand behind ourselves and take ownership of what we think, feel, and do-- which is not the same as to say that we always want to think, feel, and behave as we do.
Here is an exercise for you to begin taking steps toward learning the skill and value of validation: Write down all the things you have never wanted to admit or say aloud. Every last thing--especially the ones that make you cringe particularly hard. Admit them to yourself. Just be honest. Reserve judgment. It’s simply about awareness. Then let’s see what happens from there.
It’s not the entire process, but it’s a good start.
As you review your items, allow me to simply remind you, that WHATEVER you wrote— it’s not nearly as crazy as you might think!