On the Need to Be Validated -- A Critique
Updated: Feb 14
(September 2023 note: I am no longer handicapped. I explained why in this article).
(Note: I do not deal with absolutes, for reality is most often than not, dynamic).
According to my observations, there is a growing need in the world for something called emotional validation. Please note that I am not using scare quotes; I am simply referring to this concept by its more formal name. I may also use scare quotes when referring to other concepts such as trigger warnings. Apologies for the digression, dear readers.
Anyways, "Emotional Validation" is "acknowledging and accepting a person's inner experience, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as valid." In logic, validity is an attribute that justifies a component in an argument. In other words, if "A is not B", then it is valid to claim that "B is not A" as well. For example, if I say that "all dogs are mammals", then it is valid to conclude that "there is no non-mammal that is a dog".
This is because the converse of a valid statement is also true.
Similarly, with emotional validation, someone who needs or wants to feel validated seeks to be recognized by the external world. This also means that they do not want to be judged or criticized. Am I correct? Of course, there may be exceptions to this rule, but it is generally true.
It is understandable why people desire to be validated. After all, who doesn't want to feel good about themselves? I myself sought validation through world relevance, only to realize that I already had it, thanks to my work for you. I can clearly understand the hardship that follows from being shamed and condemned for who you are. Thus, to redeem one's self-esteem, they do not necessarily resort to doing so autonomously. External company seems to be a great help for that effort.
I assume that this is one of the reasons why safe spaces exist. Because in a safe space, you are supposed to be safe from criticism and "attacks" on whatever you present (or even yourself). Sorry to digress once more, but as a philosopher, I am not fond of blaming. I am definitely fond of criticizing. It's part of the job. The philosopher is a critic of existence, as they recognize the fact that it is, by default, flawed. How can it ever be perfect realistically? Rhetorical question.
The person who seeks to be validated is vulnerable by default. The validation-seeker is vulnerable because they seek something they do not have. What do they not have enough of? Confidence, of course! A person who is confident enough in their abilities and who they are would not need to seek validation.
Here's an honest question, and feel free to answer me in the comments (or social media, DMs, whatever): Can there be a confident person who seeks validation? Compare this to food. If you feel satiated after a well-prepared meal, would you eat more regardless? The point is, validation is built on confidence, and the need for confidence has its own capacity. Just like with food and hunger. By the way, if I'm mistaken, and convinced that I am, I'm usually willing to re-edit my articles.
So, my critique of emotional validation is this: We can, unintentionally, create an unhealthy dependence on being emotionally validated by others. It's "unhealthy" because it is an independent capability, at least by potential, that we can easily give away, in favor of approval.
(Side note: The need to be validated can also be healthy because doubting ourselves is healthy to a degree if, for example, it helps us better understand who we are, and improve ourselves from that point forward).
Likes, follows, shares, and the like on social media. These are components that can condition us to not develop this confidence from within. Should we compromise this capability, we might also compromise our potential to be assertive, and even charismatic. Perhaps, some of us would be so desperate for validation, that they would do very disturbing things. Merely for attention. And at times, for "pity-parties".
By the way, I have no need for your pity. Despite my hardships, your pity does not help me in any way. So please don't offer it, as it is humiliating, just as it is to disrespect a genuine desire for contribution. And yes, I'm aware that I'm seeking this emotion to be validated. I'm trying to reduce bias, here, not to romanticize my point.
And my point is that we need to build character! To grow our self-esteem, to the point that the function of validation will be less and less important for us! Of course, we deserve emotional support from time to time, and some people may deserve it more than others. However, why risk the unhealthy dependency on external approval?
It can be compared to business. If we "cut out the middleman," we will save resources, such as time and energy. In this case, if we work to be more confident, the "middleman" that is other people will be less necessary. And therefore, we will save our limited resources for other activities.
Look, I learned this the hard way as a fatigued man.
Not the validation, no. The imperative need to cut expenses. When your energies are severely limited, your potential gets compromised.
Do you wish for proof? I'll gladly give it to you, for fatigue harmed my very ability to walk.
No, no, I'm not asking for your pity. I'm simply showing you the reasoning behind my critique. I think for the long term, if we waste too much of our time and energies, we will limit our potential. I'm not saying that emotional validation is a waste of time. I'm saying that we can cut some expenses if we work to build our confidence.
Our confidence is a virtue, remember that. It's especially true when it is not too much. Obviously, confidence can be achieved without reaching overconfidence. Why would a rational being desire overconfidence?
And yes! Confidence can save energy, dear readers! To be more precise, it can give you more energy.
Don't believe me?
I'll just put this here. Enjoy, and thanks for reading.