`“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.”`

-Richard Bach, author

Internal Validation is the art of validating ourselves. We all like to be validated. It’s why we have relationships in the first place. We enter relationships so that others can support us emotionally. This can become a problem if we come to expect that others are responsible for validating us. Emotional aggression happens when we try to force others to validate us.

While others can choose to validate us by acting in emotionally supportive ways, we can also choose to validate ourselves. If others are validating us, then that validation is external because it is coming from someone besides ourselves. If, however, we are able to meet our own emotional needs, we are internally validated. It’s nice to have both, but there may be times when others cannot satisfy our emotional needs. In those times, it helps to be able to meet those needs ourselves.

The only healthy way to be emotionally validated by others is when others are willingly granting us such validation and support. If we attempt to force such support from others, we are acting from emotional aggression.

If we engage in fault-finding in an attempt to seek validation, we are projecting blame. Projecting blame is emotional aggression, because we are abdicating responsibility for our own emotional validation by attempting to blame, shame, or guilt others into emotionally supporting us against their will.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a guilt-trip, you know that it is not a pleasant experience. If you’ve ever been the victim of a guilt-trip, ask yourself, “Is trying to make me feel guilty more likely or less likely to make me emotionally validate you?”

Now turn that around and put the shoe on the other foot. If you’re projecting blame onto your partner by trying to shame them or guilt them into doing what you want, do you think that such behavior is more likely or less likely to get the results you want?

If others are not meeting your emotional needs, and you are seeking external validation by behaving in emotionally aggressive ways in an attempt to get them to submit to your desires, do you really think you’re going to get the results you want? If the other person was doing it to you, would you be willing to respond in the way that they wanted?

Internal Validation is Loving Yourself

One way to avoid the tendency to engage in emotional aggression is to learn the art of internal validation. To be internally validated is to accept responsibility for your own emotional needs. The way to do this is to learn to love yourself.

Sometimes we get caught up in the idea that loving ourselves is somehow selfish or egotistical. But think about that for a moment. If you don’t love yourself, is it really fair of you to expect anybody else to love you? Not only that, but if you don’t love yourself, and you’re in a relationship with someone who loves you, eventually you might find yourself thinking along these lines, either consciously or unconsciously:

“I don’t really love myself, yet this person loves me. If I don’t love myself, yet this person says they love me, then there must be something wrong with him/her! How could a ‘normal’ person love someone like me, when I can’t even love me?”

If you don’t really love yourself, then you can’t really expect others how to love you in the way you’d like to be loved.

To learn to love yourself, first ask yourself, “Who am I, really?” Be as honest as possible when answering this question. In future weeks there will be an exercise to recognize some self-defeating beliefs and replace them with self-affirming beliefs.

For now, think about ways you can learn to love yourself and be happy in your own skin. It might help to talk these things over with your partner or with a friend or family member. A good way to start is to find out what others like about you.

If you feel uncomfortable asking others what they like about you, you could get the ball rolling by making a list of things you like about others, and sharing it with them. I’m willing to bet that they’d be likely to return the favor.

The more you are willing to do so, the more you’ll be able to self-validate as well.