Years ago I was visiting a friend who lived on Vancouver Island. He’s wealthy (unlike myself, I was dead broke at the time and hitch hiking through) and had a large beautiful sailboat. One day he invited me to go sailing with him, his wife and kids and a few friends. Their friends included an elderly couple accompanied by a young girl, five or six years old. I found out later that her father had died, her mother worked a lot, and this couple were her grandparents and looked after her much of the time.

I noticed that everyone talked to her ‘like she is a kid’; you know, they used a higher tone of voice, suggested she go play around the boat with the other kids, just spoke very differently to her than they do to each other, in both content and voice. Almost everyone does this, baby-talk kids almost until teen-hood. Whatever that gene is I didn’t inherit it; I speak to kids, and spoke to her, in the usual tone of voice I use even to adults, responding clearly to whatever she said, looking at her with the same steady gaze as when I face any adult I’m speaking with. I do this even during my opening greeting to kids.

Once we were underway sailing, she kept wandering back to me, wherever I was around the sailboat. Kept trying me out, saying a few words, then skipping away to play. She would say things not in a kid-to-another-kid way, but seriously. Testing me subtly each time, to see if I was like this always, or if I was going to change and start dismissing her as a kid. I knew something was ‘up’ but I didn’t know what, didn’t know why she had singled me out, since I had greeted her initially with the same attention I’d greeted everyone else. But she kept returning, so I knew she needed something, had somehow sensed that I might be where she’d find it, and she was taking careful little steps towards it.

Eventually she came and stood beside me for a while, talking, then we sat down together, reclining side by side on the roof of the sailboat while the other people remained fore and aft, doing whatever. (Okay, the limit of my nautical terminology is ‘fore’ and ‘aft’; I do not know if there is a proper nautical term for the ‘roof’ of the sailboat, and I’m not going to go looking it up, so kill me.) Her grandparents and friends, and my friends, would glance at us from time to time, but they kept to themselves, sensing something was ‘happening’ between us.

Sitting there side by side, arms touching, watching the waves and islands pass by, she began talking about things. A little about her dad, about her life with her mom and grandparents, school, being happy and sad sometimes. This little six year old girl was talking calmly, clearly, with a voice as grounded as any wizened adult, about her deepest thoughts and feelings, with me, whom she’d first met in a group of people an hour ago. I hadn’t asked or overtly invited any sharing, she just slid naturally into telling me things. She sensed that, to me, she wasn’t just a kid… she was an entire unique and important being, and I did not treat her like a kid, I treated her in response to whatever she sent me. I just listened, like I would to any adult who had lost a loved one and spontaneously started talking about that event and her life afterwards. I didn’t try to solve anything or advise, I didn’t ask rhetorical questions, I asked only questions whose answers I was truly curious to know. She talked and talked.

And then, that was it. The seriousness left her, she jumped up and skipped to her grandparents and hugged them, then played with the other kids. Along the rest of the voyage she swung by me occasionally with a look or a word, and we were like people who’d known each other for years, even though we didn’t ‘talk’ like that again. After the sailing, in the marina parking lot she started crying because she didn’t want to leave me. It was a surprise, because she hadn’t been ‘hanging around me’ for the rest of the sailing. But she had found a true listener, and that was so important to her that she didn’t want to let go, and after crying she then turned sulky. I said I’d see her tomorrow when her grandparents were bringing her over to play with my friends’ kids again, but she stayed in the same hurt mood. Her grandparents said, “You must remind her of her dad, that’s why she’s being like this.”

But it wasn’t that at all. It was because I listened to her as a unique soul of the universe. I completely validated her as a being, and validated everything she was going through. Her grandparents were kind people and loved her very much, but I could tell they were decidedly ‘old school’ and definitely did not ‘listen’ to kids, past a certain shallow depth.

You know what happened the next day when the little girl came over to my friends’ place where I was staying? Nothing. She played with my friends’ kids, treated me like any other adult, was friendly but not avoiding me nor pointedly coming near either. I’d been what she needed for a little while the previous day, and then she didn’t need it this next day. It was done, she didn’t feel tied to me any more, didn’t need anything else from me, I might just as well have been a tossed-away Barney doll.

In other words, our ‘moment’ was a ringing success. And that is what happens with a lot of problems: the moment you are in the presence of someone who truly validates you, hears deeply what you want to tell them… a huge part of your burden, or at least how it is affecting you… is lifted. You no longer feel so unheard and alone. And you often don’t even need to revisit that person again on the same level. You shared that essence, that moment, where one person selflessly gave what the other person needed, and then you both moved on, to your separate lives.

I never saw her again, nor heard from her. She just needed a brief conversation that apparently she hadn’t felt ‘right’ about having with anyone else to get a certain validation she needed, and something she sensed in me opened it to happening. You can tell your problems to a thousand people, for decades, and still not feel validated. Or you can talk to one person, for twenty minutes with a certain dynamic between you, and feel so intimately heard that you don’t even need to talk about the same things to anyone else, at least in the same way, ever again.


People around you, even good people, may neglect or not know how to validate the importance of you and whatever you’re going through. This is especially common for children; we adults have our adult problems and stresses and it is very easy to downplay the importance of children’s problems and small successes. After all, children haven’t grown up into the real world yet, right? They don’t understand about the large, serious problems of adults and our complex stresses. So even people who do love their children and validate their worthiness, may still not feel it is particularly important to take seriously many other aspects of their children’s experiences.

For most kids, life is pretty normal and they receive average-to-good validation from their parents, teachers, community. And that is all most of us need. Even into adulthood, an ‘average’ amount of validation has probably given you an average-to-good sense of self. But what if it hasn’t? What if a large part of your later problems in life have stemmed from a lack of feeling validated earlier in your life?

I’ve been in contact with someone who is an extreme case of not being validated early in life. She had parents who were both abusive and neglectful to all their children, resulting in her and her siblings suffering from severe ‘failure to thrive’, among other syndromes. She formed a close alliance with only one brother who was very protective of her, and would often sneak to his room and sleep next to him when she was scared or couldn’t sleep. One night, when she was five, she woke up feeling cold; her brother had died in the night, asleep in her arms. She didn’t understand ‘death’, she just tried to wake him, then pulled another blanket over him because he felt so cold, and she waited until morning, hoping he’d wake up.

In the morning when it was discovered, the household became a maelstrom of police and investigators and paramedics. This five-year-old girl was shuffled to the side, nothing was explained. The parents were suspected of poisoning her brother, but that’s another story. She kept wondering what was happening, where her brother was. All this, in full view of neighbors and the media, in an extremely private family where the parents kept everything hidden behind walls. The children were all ordered by their parents to never mention their brother again, not even say his name. The children were never allowed to learn exactly what happened, never allowed to grieve, never had their own trauma validated and helped. To them, their little brother mysteriously died and disappeared and was never allowed to be discussed or mentioned again.

That little girl spent the next couple decades still not being validated or treated as if she were in any way important. Now she is a middle-aged woman… who feels, daily, there isn’t much reason to live, that she has zero value in the world. She hasn’t been able to sleep in a bed for decades, she sleeps (if at all) sitting up on the living room sofa. She has severe attachment issues, untrusting and unable to really attach to anyone or believe they’ll be there for her. She has a handful of severe related syndromes and dysfunctions that have largely immobilized her forward growth and corroded her health. She has never learned how to grieve about things, never grieved for her brother or her childhood… doesn’t even trust herself to grieve, feeling like she has so much grief and rage bottled up inside her for so long, that if she even opens up a tiny crack to let it out, it will uncontrollably explode and destroy both her and those around her.

I want to mention more about her in later chapters. Her lack of validation was an extreme situation and I feel that talking more about it will help others too. Validation of the important things in your early life can directly and massively impact how you respond within situations for the rest of your life. Because those first few early years are when you learn how to deal with things in your mind, when ‘coping tools’ (and lack thereof) become solidly implanted forever. Once anything is missed or learned poorly at this young stage, it can be difficult or impossible to learn later as an adult after habitual responses have been formed down to your deepest level.


Any neglect to validate you, during your regular daily existence as a child, teen, adult, can be a large part of what leads you to slide so far into your problems. How much would it have helped you if the people around you validated everything important about you, even before your problems arose? How much would it have helped steer you away from even entering your problems? Were you validated while you were beginning to sink into your despairing state, during your drowning times, and afterwards when you’re recovering? Are you feeling validated right now, by the people around you? By yourself?

This failure to validate you is a huge contribution towards incubating your feelings of separation, aloneness, unimportance, being unheard, unloved, especially during the times you are going through difficult things. And that weakened sense of self can contribute to your failure to be strong, clear, skilled, effective in dealing with any and all problems later in life.

Do you have people in your life who will literally stop what they’re doing in order to take a courageous and penetrating look at what you’re saying and how you’re feeling? Who truly try to set aside their opinions, set aside saying the usual caring-but-banal things, and really hear you, make an effort to open themselves to understanding what you’re going through?

To not have someone like that in your life allows a very unhealthy void to grow inside you, a place where you feel unseen and unheard with your problems, at the deepest levels where you NEED to feel seen and heard. Having that unfortunate void allows you to further slip and fade away into feeling your difficulties aren’t that important to anyone. That your life doesn’t really matter to anyone. That you’re weak and empty and powerless. Maybe it allows you to slide down that long slope into believing you don’t even matter to yourself or to the world, that you’re totally alone and totally unable to dig yourself out of whatever hole you’re feeling trapped in.

If you’d had authentic validation along your recent paths, maybe you wouldn’t have arrived at this state of needing to ask for help?

But for this course, we have to let that go. We have to let go of any lack of validation you’ve had up until now. We can’t turn back the clock, we can only move forward with what you do have. You ARE here in this place of asking for help, and if any part of that is due to a lack of validation in your past, we can only begin filling that void from this point on.

Where do we begin? Whether or not your past and recent validations, or lack thereof, have contributed to your present problems… why is ‘Validation’ the first step in this course? What can it do to help, from this moment forward?


Every journey needs a starting point. Even if you’re in the middle of a journey, the rest of your journey still needs the starting point of ‘right now’. So you are always at your eternal starting point, each passing second is the first second of the rest of your life.

Your healing, your growing, your process of extracting yourself out of your problems and building something better inside yourself, is an actual journey. It’s an inner journey that begins in your mind, travels through nerves to affect the rest of your body, and finally radiates outward to affect your circumstances in life. You began this new journey when you began asking for help. And that journey-of-help begins afresh, any time you ask for help again. Even if you asked for help a day or a month ago for the same thing, and thought you were beginning your journey then… you can still ask for help today, in the same way, and begin again. You can keep beginning thousands of times, until eventually you find yourself immersed in the journey rather than feeling like you’re at a beginning.

Until you entirely validate your life, your importance, all the things you are and own, and entirely validate the importance of every part of your problems, you are trying to spring forward from an unsolid starting platform. You are using an unstable mess of life-ingredients to start from. The mess that has overwhelmed you and mired your life down, also creates the shaky ground that you can’t seem to leap ahead from.

You’re trying to clear up your life, but you’re starting from quicksand that doesn’t allow you firm footing upon which to plant your feet and begin your journey. We need to firm up your initial footing, in your mind. How do we do that? WHAT EXACTLY IS VALIDATION!!?

You already know what validation is. Just reading my first story above, about the girl on the sailboat, reminds you entirely of what validation is, without even needing a definition.


It’s such a strange, subtle thing, you can’t quite put your finger on it. It’s a very quiet and powerful thing. It’s the greatest gift anyone can give you, even beyond love, and yet most people have no idea how to give it. It’s a little gift from their soul to yours, given quietly, yet it’s so earth-shaking when it happens that even a little bit of it… changes you. Improves you. Strengthens you. Introduces the power of self-ness into your veins.

I was living with a friend for awhile, and his sister was visiting from out of town for a few days. His sister and I knew what each other looked like but had never spoken alone, just in passing with ‘the group’ of her husband, in-laws, brother, etc. One afternoon as I was walking downtown I saw her coming my way, alone. We stopped and said hi and I asked how she was doing. She began letting off a little steam, things weren’t going so well for her. But she was saying things in a brief, blowing-it-off way, eyes darting all over, figuring I’d be like anyone else and say something banal like ‘Yeah, I hear you. Yeah, that’s shitty. Hope that gets better’ and blow it off and say See You Later and then keep walking.

But I just looked at her calmly, while she said these things. Looked at her impatience, her complaining, her attention darting all over the place, her assuming that I’d say something fleeting and that I’d keep on walking. I stood there and looked and listened, with no semblance of wanting to change the subject or walk away. Soon her eyes stopped darting away and looking down; soon she stopped fidgeting; soon she stopped thinking she was going to be blown off. She started relaxing, looking straight at me, directly, calmly, no longer nervously avoiding my eyes. She became so… seen, human, real, important. We stood there on the sidewalk, people moving around us, and she just talked and I just listened, for as long as it took, and it was comfortable and important.

You see, ‘validation’ is another way of saying, “You are real. You exist to me. You matter, right here and right now.” Validation is the ‘amount of real’ you accord to another person and to anything they do and say. We often only half-listen to someone, or we’d rather be somewhere else right now, or we have some filter or biased opinion about what they’re saying, or we consider them ‘less than us’ in some way, or we just aren’t interested, or we’re too busy, or we’re preoccupied, or we’re afraid to hear what they’re saying; there a thousand other reasons why we often don’t just stop, hear, see, give our attention wholly to someone. To do so, actually becomes a great rarity in our lives.

Validation is when someone sends you the ‘vibe’ that they consider you one hundred percent real and important. This might seem like an abstract, spiritual comment, but bear with me because validation is what bequeaths to you the essence of your life, your belonging here, your place in this world, your sense of the importance of your own existence, and your definition of you. Validation is someone else hearing you, or you hearing yourself, on the deepest level. It is someone putting aside their own disbelief, complaining, discomfort, judgments, agreement or disagreement about your issues, and just hearing what your soul is trying to say, hear what is seeping up out of your heart and marrow, even beyond your words. Validation, true validation, is selfless and is the ultimate generosity someone can give to you.


A friend of mine was going through a rough period many years ago and tried to commit suicide. Fortunately she was found in time and survived. Shortly afterwards she was talking about her experience to someone she knew, and that person’s only comment was, “Well, a lot of people who attempt suicide just do it to get attention.” My friend was a little shocked at this callous response, but managed to say something that perhaps urged the other person to think about care, rather than about judgement; my friend said, “But if someone needs attention so badly that they’re willing to risk killing themselves to get it… don’t you think you should give them some?”

My friend was reaching out for help, unfortunately via the form of a suicide attempt. And later when she was talking about it to this person, she was again reaching out, to a listener. And what did that listener do? Instead of hearing that my friend had been so despairing that she’d attempted to end her own life, instead of validating my friend’s experience and trying to be caring and helpful in some way… the listener just blew it off, demeaned the entire experience, devalued what my friend was going through, swatted aside what my friend was telling her.

This is an all too common lack of effort and compassion, lack of even trying to understand and validate another human being’s difficulties.

You can’t just talk to someone and expect to feel validated, even from those people closest to you. Because most people are unable to validate you in the ways you need. Just like the little girl in my first story in this chapter, you can sense a ‘vibe’ from people who can validate you. They somehow radiate it outward. And it is rare to stumble across a person who can validate you, so rare that, when you do find them, you want this validation from them almost as much as you want your next breath. It is that powerful.

Most of us make the mistake of seeking validation only from family, friends, other close loved ones, thinking that if they really care for us, then they can validate us. We fall into the trap of wanting validation from those who are most important to us, because their opinion of us is what affects us most. So in a perfect world, those we love and respect most, would be the ones who validate us in the greatest ways. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, the average person receives and gives the average amount of validation through life. But often, that average simply isn’t enough, and it definitely isn’t enough when someone is having more serious problems.

Even if you have the most loving people around you, people who give you a wonderful upbringing, help you feel loved and worthy and strong, they might still be unable to validate you in the ways you need. The world is full of loving parents… who still have children who grow up feeling miserable, worthless, empty, unseen, misunderstood, unrecognized, to the point where they decide they don’t even want to live. If you can grow up feeling that way after having parents who loved you, how much worse is it to have parents who didn’t? Or parents who gave you away? Or parents who died? Or parents who split up?

The person who validates you might not be in the position of anyone you’d normally would think should validate you. Let go of ‘should’. Because we’re all human, and there is no one person who should validate you. Not your mother or father, family or best friends, acquaintances or professionals. Some of them might be that person, and some of them might not. Professionals are human also, and even those in the professional position to validate you will vary – some will be sincere and caring, some will be not so sincere or caring. It’s not the profession, or the person’s closeness to you, that will validate you; it is the person themselves. Who they are, their depth of natural human understanding, what they’ve been through in their own lives, how much they care about even strangers… that is what will validate you.

An elderly lady friend of mine was going through some life problems and decided to see a local well-known therapist. He asked her questions, and she didn’t get much out of the session but figured the first visit was just ‘getting to know’. On the second visit… after a few questions she began to realize something and said, “But… you asked me these exact same questions, in this same order, on my first visit!” This ‘professional listener’ hadn’t really listened, he was doing things by rote, and simply forgot where he was along his rote methods. He wasn’t validating her at all, he was plodding through his same-old, same-old, to collect his paycheck. At least, she said, he looked sheepish and embarrassed about it, and fumbled through some papers and tried to do better, instead of making manipulative excuses to backpedal and cover his butt.

This professional could not validate her, even though he might regret his own inefficiency. He would have to undergo some soul-level life change in order to become a person who can truly validate others. The person I mentioned earlier, whose brother died beside her as a child, she has been to at least a half dozen therapists… and has told me that not one of them could validate her. She said a couple of them even made her feel worse, and a couple were themselves very uneasy in listening to her story. Remember that even professionals may be sincerely well-meaning, but not have the personal depth or life-awareness to be able to validate you on the level you need. If you find one who can, you’ve discovered pure gold.

I am not a professional – at least, not in the way of being certified by any recognized body outside myself – but do you think if people came to me for help, I could ever just ask a bunch of questions from a rote list, and that I could ever let myself forget that I asked the same person all these rote questions last week? It simply could not happen because I am in the moment of validation with each person, at each second, and what happened last visit – or even two minutes ago – is history. What if you need something completely new validated this minute? There is no such thing as following a guide or timeline, when you are in the authentic moment with each person, each visit. To validate you, is to be open to receiving what you are at every changing moment, hearing and acknowledging you with involvement, interest, and care. Not a ‘mental checklist’.

I know that a debate must be made for asking initial questions in order to begin some ‘getting to know’ process, but it must be more intuitive than that. What if you yourself need dire help, and your next meeting with someone – anyone – is the last meeting you’ll have before putting a gun in your mouth or touching a razor to your skin? At each moment, each meeting, that may be the one chance someone has to validate you and possibly help you past your present despair.

I used to miss opportunities as much as anyone else; about fifteen years ago I was working in a coffee shop, and one customer came in as a semi-regular, once every week or two. He was a prominent business owner in town, and successful. He’d leave his beautiful big dog in the back of his pickup truck outside, and my co-worker in the cafe loved that dog and would go out to pet it. One day the man came in and ordered, sat down, and as I placed his coffee on his table he looked at me and asked, “Do you like working here?” His tone of voice was a little different than normal… I noticed this on some level, but it was a busy day and I was tired and harried and I blew him off with some complaining answer about how sometimes it was okay but sometimes like today it was go go go and I was tired and sore and… well, let’s say my answer wasn’t my finest moment.

But something I noticed: the moment I’d begun complaining, he jerked. Literally, his shoulders jerked, he lowered his head, didn’t look at me, stiffened up, didn’t say anything else, withdrew completely into himself. He actually looked physically pained for a sharp moment by what I’d said. I left him and continued with my harried routine, and didn’t think much about the experience right then. I knew something went wrong in our little interaction, some wrongness caused by my answer, but I figured ‘what the heck, it’ll be fine, life’s full of lost moments’, and I carried on with my work.

A week later it was in the newspaper: he’d killed himself. Damn it. Our little moment came back to me. This was a guy in pain, wanting someone, anyone, to say something good to him, bring some kind of positivity, some kind of hope to him, and my complaining answer hurt him so bad that he physically jerked away from it. I was not responsible for his death… but at the same time, damn it I knew his voice was different, I saw the jerk happen, I knew my answer had somehow hurt him, I knew… I knew… even that day I served him, I thought about it after work and felt bad, and decided the next time he came in I’d mention it to him.

But sometimes you only get one chance. I had that one moment to make a difference, and I blew it. It might not have saved him if I’d gone back at that moment and sat down with him and said something sincere. But then again, even back then when I wasn’t this wise, I could still be pretty darn intuitive and I might well have begun some conversation with him that would have made a difference. Might have thrown him some kind of a lifeline. That was my one and only chance to validate something for him.

But I blew that chance. And I vowed I’d never, no matter how harried or miserable I felt in my own circumstances, ever again fail to see, listen to, and obey that feeling, whenever I recognize that someone very obviously needs validation from me. Damn it, damn it. Listen to those moments, and obey, and don’t blow them off.


Validation cannot be faked by the people around you, nor even by professionals. Most people are not able to clearly validate what you are going through. Forgive them. Their lives took a different form. Busy, working, family, their own stresses. Maybe they didn’t have lives that put them through the specific wringer that leads to self-awareness and compassion and knowing how to validate others, and maybe they simply don’t have that deeper understanding in their makeup. Many people have had hardships, but those hardships don’t necessarily result in giving them compassion and understanding, or the tools to help others in the way others need help.

Sometimes people don’t believe you, or can’t comprehend how your situation could be real. Some don’t care. Some are too stressed by and afraid of your problems, and don’t have the tools to cope with helping you. Some are too overwhelmed by their own big tangle of problems to be able to afford any energy towards yours. Some people pooh-pooh your problem because perhaps they have better coping skills and maybe your problem does not really seem like a problem to them. There are a thousand reasons why most people never grow into the kind of people who can validate others at the deepest level. Forgive them. You might be one of them. I used to be one of them.

No matter how sincerely people care about you, no matter how skilled their counseling tools, no matter how hard they try, you will not feel validation until it’s completely legitimate, organic and natural; when a person, professional or friend or stranger or family, has magically become the kind of person who can validate you, then and only then will you feel validated. If it’s faked, or if they’re trying to be helpful and supportive but something’s just ‘missing’, or someone’s comforting or commiserating with you, then they are not really validating you, and you will feel unvalidated.

Validation is not the same as commiseration, there’s all too much commiseration going around: you’re complaining about your problems, you’re making the call for help, and your buddy is right there with you saying, “Yeah, yeah, I know, it sucks. That’s too bad. Screw it. Screw them. What can ya do? Life’s tough. It’ll pass.” When people commiserate with you, it might seem like they’re listening, validating your problems, agreeing with you and sharing their own problems… but validation has nothing to do with commiseration. Commiseration is griping, letting off steam to each other, and with commiseration it is very important that the other person ‘feel’ whatever you’re saying. Hence the ‘co’ part of commiseration.

But validation is much more powerful than that. Validation is someone ‘receiving’ you at its best: they’re not trying to decipher how serious they think your problem is, what opinions they have about it, how they judge it, they’re not even trying to think of the right thing to say or how to respond, and it isn’t even important that they ‘feel’ your pain or anything you’re sending them. They are just treating you, the entirety of you and what you’re saying, as one hundred percent real. Fully real, fully important, fully mattering. Fully VALID. They’re hearing you, seeing you, in the most complete and most freeing way.

All important things are intrinsic in validation. That is why it can’t be faked. Validation is such a huge thing… there’s love in there, respect, freedom, nurturing, help, responsibility, understanding, identity, importance, intimacy, trust, strength, wisdom, clarity, oneness. A person who validates you, even if they’re just standing there looking and listening without commiserating or comforting or reacting the way you think they should… all those things are inside them, and you somehow feel it all coming your way, from them. You simply cannot have validation, without all those other words being passed along to you as well, because validation is simply saying ‘you’re real’. Maybe saying it quietly, but it’s with the roar of truth and life behind it.


Validation is a difficult thing to describe and define; this chapter is long and I’ve used a few stories in hopes that those happenings will perhaps clarify what I’m trying to describe, resonate more accurately with your feeling of what validation is and isn’t. Remember all those words I said were part of validation in the above paragraph? When you’re on the receiving end of that… something comes alive inside you. How can it not? When you water a long-dried-out plant and you’ve mixed strong plant food into the water… that’s what you feel like when someone truly validates you. It washes through you with powerful warmth and soul nutrients.

Validation will not get rid of whatever your problem is, it doesn’t suddenly shower money on you if you’re broke or in debt, won’t get rid of your cancer on its own, won’t bring back a deceased loved one, won’t get you out of prison, won’t stop you from taking your next drink or smoke;

But validation helps you cope better with everything that is happening. Validation helps to strengthen your mind and courage and confidence, by asserting just how real and how important you are. So many of us feel so alone, unheard and unimportant, because at least some part of our lives is not being treated with concern, with care, even with attention, by those around us, and perhaps is not even being clarified and acknowledged by us personally.

Whatever you’ve done, whatever has been done to you, whatever you are and aren’t, validation makes you feel the equal of any human in existence. If it doesn’t make you feel that way, it’s not authentic validation. Because validation fortifies your own sense of who you are, your own ‘amount of real’. You can be feeling lost, totally un-grounded, empty and directionless, and after only a few minutes of being with someone – or yourself – who validates you authentically, you can literally and instantly feel once again grounded, clear, found, full, and with purpose. That’s how powerful it is.

I’m a stranger and I don’t know your problems. But I hear you, without even hearing you first hand, and I validate anything and everything you are, and whatever you’re going through. It’s real, no matter how small or large it seems. You’re real. I hope you have someone nearby, in the flesh, who can do this for you in person. That person is often, perhaps even usually, not who you think it might be. It may not be someone close, or someone you even know personally yet, or someone professional. But there is someone who can. You will discover them, if you let go of who you think SHOULD have been validating you all along, and open to meeting some – perhaps very unlikely – person who CAN validate you.

I hope that one day your own self-validation will be enough for you. Self-Validation helps you to not feel your entire existence and life-worth is tied up to, dependent upon, being validated by other people. I’m sure you’ve had little validations from others, all your life. But if things are very tough for you right now, I hope you happen across someone who can give you this big-ass, soul-deep validation, in spades, and I hope you can learn to do this for yourself.


There is no problem in your life that cannot be helped, to some extent, when at least one person – hopefully that’s YOU – validates you authentically.


Throughout any stage of your life, validate yourself completely. And if you validate your problems at their earliest stages, even as newly-hatched chicks, perhaps each time you can ‘catch them’ before they become large out-of-control problems.


  • Chris says:

    I’m in a spiral of self-destructive, risk-taking behaviour. Don’t want to divulge online. I am 40 yrs old, have the most amazing wife in the world, but I am in a world of isolation.
    Since my father’s death 5 years ago, I can’t get myself on track at all… I don’t want to lose my wife – she is an angel but I am not sure how much more she can take of me being so insular, deceitful and hard to access….

  • Karen says:

    Hi, I am down pretty far, lowest I’ve ever been or I wouldn’t consider asking for help here. Not because I don’t think you want to help people, you obviously do, the proof of it is in all the work you have put into this website. When I first found this website I had typed “help me please,” into the search engine knowing it would do me no good. But reading some of your website helped me feel validated when I have none at all in my life. Just the fact that you put so much effort into making sure there would be something here for those of us who have nobody in our lives we can talk to, something, validation that we exist and are in pain and there is someone, even if they don’t know me, that offered me a hand, that made sure there was something at the end of my plea for help. Thank you for that. It’s more than I have gotten from anyone, family, therapists, case managers, people who answer the suicide hotline. All they do is ask if I am thinking of harming myself, when what I need to hear is “tell me what’s going on, tell me what’s wrong, actually listening, and then saying something like I am so sorry you are going through that. That must be very hard for you. But mostly just listening without having their own agenda, listening without having to interrupt with a pat answer, a fix it for what they do not even know because they did’t listen. I’m sorry to go on. I am scared and not even sure I will post this, scared that I will and then the unknown. I don’t have any hope anymore, not for a long time, certainly not after trying and trying to reach out and ask for help and never getting anywhere. I just don’t know the answers, but I know I have been living the bare minimum life for a while now, and wonder each day if I will get thru another, and how? I am scared to ask for help. What if there just isn’t any? That is how it feels. I just got turned down for therapy today because I am too messed up. They only have 10 sessions and they couldn’t possibly help me in such a short time. But what if when I had gone in for the initial meeting to find out what I needed therapy for, they had listened? What if for 10 sessions they just listened to me? No, it wouldn’t solve any of my problems, but I would at least feel like I matter in this world. I’m sorry, I’m afraid so I just keep finding fault with everyone. I am a coward. Thank you for caring about people in crisis. If nothing else there really are people who try to help. Thank you for that.

  • Gina says:

    This is so beautiful and it really makes me think things through. I was at work today and I am working with a few youngsters. I hear things about the “new” generation of kids all the time. Like, they are self absorbed, selfish and plain rude. People shouldn’t generalize about things like this. I work with a little darling of a sweetheart girl of this “new” generation. Everyone including me was talking behind her back. Not exactly what you would call mature but nevertheless it happened. I decided I would take a good look at exactly what I saw. I saw a kind, young an thoughtful individual and I told her so. I told her from my heart and her reaction was incredible. She told me exactly what she thought of me as well. I sensed it was from the heart. I felt on top of the world. She told me that I made her day. She came over and gave me a big hug. I am old enough to be her mother in fact. That really has no bearing on the intensity of the feelings we both experienced. Validation came as naturally to me as going to the washroom. It did for her as well. We didn’t have to stand there and think of what to say, it just came out with an unexpected sense of overwhelming joy between us. I am so glad to be here and reading all of the very soul searching information. It has made me start to rewire my brain.

    • Bannen says:

      I knew you had it in you, Gina. Nobody told you how to ‘validate’, but you felt it and you did it and it was as natural and as powerful as your heart beating. There you go.

  • HEKATE says:

    Problem is
    I can say to myself…yes, your life is and has been forever painful, you feel trapped and alone and desperate and depending on the good will of your partner who really doesnt see you …and he and the people you crave the most really dont give you any validation..yes, i do love me as best as i can but there is a hole inside thats so enormous that no one else can fill…not even myself. And i know it and the loneliness is so great because no matter how much i see…the mirror of another is what really counts for me. And i say this feeling that here it will fall in good ears. I thank you all.

  • maple1315 says:

    Wonderful content. Possibly the best I’ve found.

  • Elliot says:

    When I typed Help Me Please into the search engine, I felt foolish, foolish because, you know, what was Google going to say to me? But also I did not feel really foolish, because I have learned to value and validate myself, I wasn’t really derogatory of myself.

    But I guess the point I want to make is that I didn’t expect something this powerful, insightful, and accessible.

    • Bannen says:

      I’m glad you found things here that resonated with you, Elliot. Thank you for posting. I emailed you.

    • Elliot says:

      In terms of validation, I learned several things from this chapter of the Course. But I will focus on two things. The first is something about what I need in terms of validation. The second is that thispage challenges me in terms of how I do or don’t give validation.

      So much of this is, by the way, connected to and tied up in shame. And sadness. And social subservience. But shame is there, as a kind of hydraulic social pressure. often internalized. and my recent emotional work has shown me that there is a kind of healthy authentic shame. just like there is healthy fear. Or, I submit, healthy anger. Healthy shame can be the sense that we are acting against our own honest values. It can be what helps keep us in integrity. Unfortunately, there is so much manufactured And applied shame and blame That our natural emotional systems Of integrity become Flooded and thrown into turmoil. And I think that invalidation Is a big part of that. We are shamed for our truths, and not even allowed to speak them or think them. Likewise, we are shamed for our needs. See the insecurity in that?

      In terms of the validation I need, I learned that better and more inclusive validation of the seemingly small things. This is because a repeated pattern of small indignities can become corrosive to the soul, especially if there are unchallenged, and more so if they are not even acknowledged, and the last often comes with accepting and internalizing the indignities. (“It’s my fault .”)

      There is also the notion that, to some degree, I can validate myself. But wow, maybe I need to validate the smaller things more. Because heck, sometimes small things are actually big.

      The second thing that came up for me is how I validate other people, I think I am neither the worst nor the best at this. But by even recognizing it as an issue, I can improve.

      Here’s a challenge: how do you validate delusional people who have some measure of power over you? Maybe there are limits, depending upon their state and your own state of maturity, safety, and mental well-being. I’m thinking of my father, who was understandably devastated when my mother died. But it was hard to be supportive because he was heavily medicating himself with about 14 pharmaceutical drugs, in added turmoil because of it, and in angry denial about the massively ill effects that was causing. I guess it’s not terribly shameful that I couldn’t help him.

      But I do want to become more aware of how I am validating and invalidating other people on a daily basis. Luv, Elliot

      • Bannen says:

        I’m currently doing a major rewrite of the entire course, and included will be clarification of Validation. It will address what you’ve asked. Many new chapters will also be added.
        But I will say, to your above comments: validation arises from you naturally. If you’re ‘trying’ to figure out how to validate anyone, then you’re trying to construct something or trying to act a part or trying to portray to someone else something that you are not feeling.
        Validation is none of that. It is simply how much you are ‘there’ with what another person is. With what you are. As you peel back your own layers and lessen all forms of disconnect with all other people, validation will occur naturally. That’s the only way it can happen. Validation of delusional people? You just do what you feel urged to do. Feel what you are urged to feel. Say what you are urged to say. If you’re truly in sync with yourself and this person, validation happens. If you’re not, validation can’t be manufactured. Because it is absolutely authentic, not a manufactured thing.
        You are welcome to email me for more discussion. I’m not interested in theoretical discussion for its own sake, but if you are having serious issues at the moment and they seem based around validation, then by all means email and start asking me about it. 🙂

  • Franchesca says:

    I cried when I read this…I feel like you spelled out and defined what I’ve been trying to say my whole life. I feel like I’ve done this for so long for so many people without even knowing I was doing it or what it was, but no one has ever done it for me. I’ve even had “friends” who would come to me for it regularly, but never give it back. And that fact has caused me to believe that I truly hate people as a whole…I’ve come to hate them for never giving me what I need, when I gave it to them so willingly. I hate needing them for it. I stopped doing it, the way I am now. I stopped asking people how they are, because they seem to sense that I’ll actually listen to something other than “good, and you?”. And I feel like the world has only made it worse, because even the initial “how are you”s often disappear in the face of people glued to smart phone screens… I look around and I feel emptier and emptier, and more and more alone…and I’m trying to be satisfied by your words. I’m trying to be satisfied by words on a screen instead of an actual person in front of me showing me they care, but as I’ve imagined it so many times in my head before now, trying to somehow make an imaginary friend satisfy me the same way without success, it doesn’t feel much different. I feel like the only person I could find was ONE person in the wide vastness of the internet, and the rarity of such an occurrence, only makes me despair that humans are no longer connected. I feel like this is one of the last and only oases I will find before going back into the wide desert that is the human existence, and it doesn’t feel worth it.

    • Bannen says:

      Emailed you, Franchesca.

    • vikki says:

      i cried too – i so need someone to hear me tell me m not a bad person give me a reason to carry on – all m life i have been told to be quiet to not be silly to not be me – im nearly 40 and im lost beyond anything i ever imagined and entirely alone

    • Theresa says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I’ve given my whole life (51 years) to everyone else. I’m considered the rock in my family and amongst my friends that everyone can lean on.
      Yet when my whole -pretty damn perfect -life fell apart 18 months ago, I realised that I couldn’t be everything to everyone anymore and over time I feel I’ve become ‘useless’ to those people.
      I know I shouldn’t have tied up my own self-worth in being ‘useful’ but it’s a bit later now.
      The situation I’m now in, losing my perfect life, is reaching a conclusion in the next couple of months and try as I might to ‘find positives in negatives’ and to ‘get on with working out a new life’ I find myself hitting brick walls constantly and all I want to do is get through Christmas for the sake of those around me that still care, and then say “Thank you very much, I’ve had a wonderful 50 years but enough is enough. Yes, I’m sure a number of years down the line if I keep going, I’ll look back and wonder how I ever felt so bad but why can’t I just say that I’m happy with the time I’ve had and call it a day?” However I’m able to relate to the notes on validation so I will at least read to the end of the course!

      • karen says:

        im going through the same thing right now only my life fell apart about 5 years ago, I walked away from my marriage, left behind my eldest son and took younges with me….I tore apart my family for some l moral reason…. Im now on my own, living with painful regrets, lowest time is 3am to 8am this is when my thoughts frighten me the most.

        I just wanted to let you know that , Ihave read your post and I understand how you feel because Im there as well…… I wish you love x

  • Corey says:

    I so hear you Kate!

  • Kate says:

    Just beautiful. Thank you. I really want to give a copy to a few people, but it would be futile.

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