The V Word.
No. Not the v word you were probably thinking this was about.
However, if I chose to confide in you about just how uncomfortable my v word was in these too tight yoga pants, how would you respond? I’d hope you’d say something like, “Ouch, that does sound painful. I can imagine I’d be uncomfortable too if my pants were that tight.”
Why would I hope you’d respond that way? One word.
It’s the most glorious v word of all. Okay, maybe the second most glorious. Girl Power!
But what does it mean? Well according to the Oxford Dictionary, validation means the recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile.
So why is this important?
It makes us feel seen, heard, loved, safe.
Imagine this: Your future in laws are coming into town. You’ve never met them before, and you want to make a smashing impression on them. Your other half has raved about your absolutely incredible pancakes. I mean, they truly are some of the world’s best pancakes, but can you imagine the amount of pressure you’d feel? This is already an important meeting, but it’s been taken up a dozen and a half notches because you’ve been raved about! Someone who’s opinion they value has shouted to the mountain tops that you are quite frankly, the bee’s knees. The much anticipated meeting is just around the corner, and you let your sweetie know that you are almost sick to your stomach at the amount of pressure you’re under. What’s his response? He shrugs his shoulders and tells you, “Calm down.”
Oh. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?
Now I’ve only met a couple hundred people in my time here on this earth, but I’ve yet to meet someone who has calmed down after being told “calm down.”
I think if such magic words did exist, more people would be walking around telling each other “your arms are full of cash” and then poof, they’d be lovingly embracing a bunch of Benjamin’s!
Nope. Unfortunately, life just isn’t that easy. Now let’s press rewind on that perfect pancake predicament and see what would have made our shining star feel a little more confident.
“I know you’re worried about making a great impression. This is a big deal, but my parents are going to love you. Your pancakes always turn out amazing, and if they don’t, we’ll add a little whip cream on top.”
Okay, okay. So that was a little cheesy, but you get what I mean. Which response do you think made our pancake princess feel better? The one where she felt validated. (There’s that v word!)
Validation is basically just letting the person know you HEAR them and you are HERE for them. Now whether or not you think they are acting irrationally is completely besides the point. They can be mad as hell that Josie’s sister Riana bought that shirt that Amanda totally saw first, and now Amanda can’t get it cause it would look like she was copying Riana! What you’d really love to say is, “Girl you crazy!” (Psst. It’s okay to get the shirt too Amanda!) But what your friend really needs to hear is, “That would be frustrating. I know you liked that shirt.” You are acknowledging that they are feeling a feeling and that’s totally okay. Okay?
The v word has always been a passion of mine, and right now especially, I need those around me to embrace it. Although, I tend to be like Alice and quietly mutter to myself (while drowning in a sea of my own tears) “I do wish I hadn’t cried so much.” Anyways, I’m currently faced with a major life decision. One in which will send my world spinning, so a healthy dose of vitamin V is just what I need.
I’m in this kick ass women empowerment group* on Facebook, and the woman who runs it made a post the other day that hit deep. It started out with a part of my favorite quote, “Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” (It’s so much so my favorite that I actually have it tattooed on my body.) In a nutshell, it talks about how much we tend to overthink decisions. How we think about all of the crazy scary things that could very well happen to us after we take that leap of faith, and that sometimes we definitely will in fact fall. However, NOT taking that chance at falling is just as terrifying as taking the chance! My favorite part of her post was when she said, “All of your what ifs will keep you on that cliff forever. And whether or not you realize it, you are JUST AS VULNERABLE there.” (Another fun v word!) Wow. Just wow. I responded to her that holy shit this is my life right now. That I’m taking steps closer and closer to this metaphorical cliff, and the closer I get to the edge I scream, “Ahhhhhhhh!” However, I keep telling myself that I’ve done harder! I’ve gone through scarier! I’ve transformed my life through bigger changes, and look at me now. Because of this, I know that I’ll be okay, and if I fall? Well, then I’ll be okay then too. How do I know I’ll be okay? Because the person who’s always been there to catch me, still will be. Me.
But what if I want a little bit of help catching me? What if I’ve gained a little weight recently because, donuts, so I might be harder to catch? What do I need in those moments leading up to that leap? If I choose to open up to you about my fears, or tell you about how the pressure is making me feel…SEE me, HEAR me, VALIDATE me. Please. Yes, I’ve done scarier things. Yes, I’ve accomplished greater feats. Yes, you may not think that any of this is worth a single sweat bead of stress off your brow. But I do.
Also, I may be slightly over analyzing this and thinking about all of the ways I could trip, but it doesn’t make it any less scary. It’s really fucking scary.
Now I don’t expect every single person I serve up a plate of vulnerability to, to be sobbing over a carton of cookie dough ice cream with me. I don’t expect you to run and grab your pom poms from junior year out of the closet and tell me I’m A-W-E-S-O-M-E. (I know you did that in your cheer voice!) I don’t even expect you to think I’m not at all crazy. Not everyone has a first class seat on the feelings train (heck I’m still waiting in the ticket line) but you can validate a person without being a squishy wishy. You can still say, “That must be hard,” while keeping your tough exterior. You can still embrace the most important v of all (even if you don’t have a v).
*If you want to check out the group, it’s called Lunar Aligned. She’s pretty kick ass. Tell her that Courtney sent you 😉 https://www.facebook.com/lunaraligned/