Saturday, July 23, 2011

Absolute Validation

Validation - When you validate someone, you're letting them know that what they think and feel is legitimate, that they have every right to think and feel that way.

Absolute Value - (Different from the mathematical term).  Absolute value is the opposite of comparative value.  A person can be tall in a room of shorter people or short in a room of taller people, but their actual height stays the same.  Tall and short are comparative words, but a person's actual height is an absolute value because it doesn't change based on their surroundings. Focusing on absolute value means caring about what you're doing, but not in relation to what anyone else is doing:
  • Being satisfied with your good grade regardless of how many classmates scored above you. 
  • Feeling free to express how much you hate all the work you have to do, even if you have a lighter workload than everyone around you. 
  • Posting what you're in the mood to post even if everyone else is talking about something more important.
So when you put the two together, absolute validation means validating people without comparing their situation to anything else.
  • Absolute validation means that if your friend feels x because of y, you consider that perfectly legitimate even if you would not feel the same way in their situation.  It means not saying that they should feel z instead, even if that is how most people feel about y.
  • Absolute validation means that if your friend indicates that something is of a certain importance, you accept that importance at face value, even if the same thing wouldn't matter as much to you, or to most people.  It means treating the situation as seriously as your friend indicated it should be treated.
  • Absolute validation means not telling your friend to suck it up, tough it out, or get over it. It means accepting that your friend's situation is not okay if they tell you that they are not okay with it.  
  • Absolute validation means not telling your friend that they shouldn't be so upset about something because there are bigger problems in the world.  It means not intentionally using other problems to one-up them.
  • Absolute validation means not telling someone in an earlier stage of life that their problems aren't that bad because things will get harder when they reach a later stage of life.
  • Absolute validation means paying attention to both the objective situation and the subjective story that your friend tells you. Understanding the objective situation can help you solve a problem, but only if you keep your friend's priorities and feelings in mind. 
  • Absolute validation means accepting that your friend may find something boring or stressful that you find fun. It means not trying to "help" your friend get comfortable with an activity unless they are interested in doing so.
  • Absolute validation means being happy for your friend when they're psyched about getting a B in a class, even if you thought the class was an easy A.
  • Absolute validation means supporting your friend's goals when their focus is different from your own.  It means treating a friend's school play as seriously as they do, even if you're focused on applying for jobs.
  • Absolute validation means accepting it when your friend doesn't care about losing weight, being more social, studying, etc. It means not pushing your friend into doing something they don't want to do and telling yourself that that's a good thing.
  • Absolute value means respecting your friend's priorities, even if they pass up an opportunity that you would have taken. 
  • Absolute validation means never telling someone that the discrimination they face doesn't exist because you don't see it.
  • Absolute validation means believing your friend when they say that they were harassed, assaulted, or raped.  It means not asking if they're sure it was real, but believing them without question.
  • Absolute validation means not telling your friend that things aren't bad enough for them to kill themself. Obviously things are that bad, or your friend wouldn't be considering suicide. Absolute validation is helping a friend find other permanent solutions to their problems, not trying to tell them that their problems aren't that bad.
If you've been an absolute validator in my life, I appreciate it so much. I hope I can be one in yours.

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