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DBT 38: Self Validation

Wait, no. Validation. Validation... Wait a second... self validation. What you are saying is that my feelings and thoughts are valuable and mean something? That doesn’t sound right. Can we go back to validating others? I know their thoughts and opinions are meaningful. When I need to know what I think about something I ask other people what they think and I take all of the knowledge and make my opinion based on theirs and then if someone has a really manipulative strong argument I change mine to suit theirs. Clearly that’s the best approach because I did my research and we all know my opinion counts for nothing.

Oh here let me distract you by talking about dialectic of it. I can tell you all about what the other person maybe thinks and feels. How I should be better and work harder to understand their feelings.


Oh shit, you figured out what I was doing. Honestly, no one else has noticed I have a weak sense of self before. I’m suppose to focus on me? piss. But I’m so much better at focusing on other people. I’ve spent all this time helping them so I didn’t need to look at me. Other people clearly know better!

I was talking to my therapist and she said “Why did you tear up when I expressed concern for you?”

“Everyone tells me how much worse it is for everyone else, how I should be understanding. No one ever worries about me. It means it was real. That it actually happened. That it was bad. That I went through a really bad thing. ”


Validation is pretty much the only unit both times around that I’ve avoided doing my homework. I’ve managed to dodge it, or deflect to validate others. I find validating others easy, because DBT on paper often wants you to focus on the dialect: Seeing another person’s side. It’s assumed that a lot of people who are in DBT can’t see the other person’s side. That you must be some kind of narcissist. It kinda forgets that there is the opposite, people who only see the other person’s side. Unless you get a therapist who gets it goes both ways and somewhere in the middle. Then they catch that you are way better with other people’s feelings and not so good with your own and have done everything to deflect it to “well what about so and so?”

I’ve spent most of my life thinking about how every action I make will affect others. How things are way harder on everyone else than me. That everyone’s feelings are way more important than my own. That I need to give in and give other people what they need because it will make me a better person. Yes, it does make me understanding and at times empathetic, but it also means I have very little sense of self and lots of self doubt. It can cause a lot of bitterness because I think a lot of my problems aren’t real. It’s made me stay in abusive relationships and jobs for too long because I thought it was okay for people to treat me poorly, because I valued what they needed. I’ve had students say really shitty things to me, because I thought maybe they were right and I did wake up and get the worst one banned from school.


Moments when I stood up, I was quickly burned. “You’re selfish” “You are so mean.” “Why are you so defensive?” etc etc. Once I stood up to a bully, and 5 of their friends shamed and bullied me for being mean. It was okay for them to abuse, but not okay for me to fight back. Then the teachers explained to me that the bully has a bad home life and I should be more understanding. My old therapist tells me the same when I am trying to leave my abusive ex, that I need to be understanding. When I’ve complained about my treatment in hospitals people tell me how I should be grateful that I lived or that people have had it much worse. It never seems to matter how bad it got for me, the abuser always seems to suffer more and be more important. My suffering is meaningless.


I look back at the sheets on Self Validation and quickly stash them in my binder. I don’t know what to do with that. How can I believe my experience is valid, when for as long as I remember it was invalid?

I had to pretend I was another person. Would I tell my friends the same stuff I tell myself? That’s how I had to start practicing self compassion. Would I let a friend suffer though what I’ve been through? No. What would I tell them?


The progress.

I would have never reported my harassing colleague before.

I left a job that was treating me terribly. Normally I would have stayed.

I abandoned the possibility of relationship before it started once I figured out he was lying about being single.


I’ve said no, and meant it.

I contacted the union when I wasn’t getting paid, normally I would have waited it out thinking “Oh, I don’t want to make it hard on admin, maybe they are having a hard time” I got paid as a result.


It’s progress. It’s going to be a long and hard road. But at the end of it I might actually have a sense of self.

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