The Need That Unites Us

We brought the activities from our monthly Kindra party to Lucidity Festival in Santa Barbara, complete with Intentional Healing Touch workshops, Guided Cuddling, Body Painting Shuffle, and of course, Kindra Connection Cards.

The Connection Cards were originally created by repurposing some of the help text within the Kindra app. On the app, users create a profile collage by selecting a theme like “Perfect Day” or “Personality” for each box of their collage. The app provides suggestions and questions to spark ideas for each theme.

These questions - some of which were inspired by the New York Times article The 36 Questions That Lead to Love - were converted into a deck of cards used at our events to facilitate connection and intimacy. The questions range from light-hearted ones like “Describe your perfect day.” to deeper ones like, “Who are the three people that influenced you the most?”

I love connection cards because they enable immediate bonding. I usually request my partner asks first so I can give an honest, vulnerable answer. It empowers them to do the same. We both end the interaction feeling closer and better understood.

I spent a few hours that Saturday and Sunday sitting at our branded booth doing connection cards with people passing by. Over the course of a few hours, I began to see consistent themes.

What I learned changed how I handle my feelings.

Almost everyone wanted to be better understood by their parents. People were afraid to be completely themselves, even around good friends. They felt misunderstood and alone. They weren’t sure what they were doing with their life.

At the end of the weekend, one uniting principle became clear: everyone is looking for validation.

val·i·da·tion
/ˌvaləˈdāSH(ə)n/
noun
recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile.

I took this realization with me into the default world and observed it in full swing: even when people were upset or treating each other with disrespect, it seemed they wanted validation more than anything else.

After I returned from the festival, I observed a friend rant for days on Facebook about how much he is overworked and underpaid at his job; he wanted validation he did a good job and his time was respected. Another friend complained his roommate made improvements to the space without consulting him; although he was fine with the changes, he wanted validation his needs were being considered as a member of the household.

I heard my friend’s mom tell story after story about coworkers doing things she thought were wrong; she wanted validation she was a good person living her own life well. By this time, I felt confident I could give her what she needed. I asked my friend’s mom questions about her own beliefs, and her tone shifted. Rather than negatively judging others, she began to share excitedly about the principles that guided her decisions.

I began to think about the motivations for my own actions. When I tell a story to a friend or write a post on Facebook, am I really just looking to validate my feelings? I was recently upset by a phone call with my sister when she suggested I shouldn’t introduce my new boyfriend to our extended family. In the end I realized I wanted validation from my family that I am making smart decisions and have good judgement of character.

No one I talked to was getting enough validation of their feelings. How could we fix such a systemic issue?

My friend listened to my lack-of-validation story and gave me some great advice: stop looking for validation from people who can’t or won’t give it to you. I realized she was right, and wondered if it was possible to find validation within myself.

For most of my life, I have been in the habit of judging my feelings and thinking things like, “I shouldn’t feel this way; other people are in worse situations.” or “I deserve to feel horrible because I make the same mistakes over and over again.” or “Something is wrong with me because I can’t stop feeling this way.”

I started to realize that, if I accept my feelings without judging them, I can use them as a helpful tool, rather than letting them immobilize me. I can think, “Something is bothering me, and that’s okay. Instead of trying not to feel that way, or adding additional feelings like guilt and shame, I can use it as a compass to direct me on how to make changes in my life.”

Your feelings are valid. Trust them. There is a reason you feel that way.

You can use negative feelings as an indicator of something that needs to be examined, whether it’s a harmful situation that keeps recurring in your life, an old belief no longer compatible with who you have become, an unresolved issue with a friend or family member you need to clear up, or a relationship that no longer fulfills you.

Once I started self-validating my feelings and using them as a guide, I felt more relaxed and in control. I was able to keep perspective and avoid becoming completely overwhelmed with emotion. I made more rational decisions and found solutions more easily.

Being more understanding with my own emotions helped me be more empathetic toward others during conflicts. We both have a right to feel the way we do. I may not agree with their opinions, but by letting them know I am listening to them and acknowledging their feelings, I can help us meet in a place of acceptance, work on a solution together, and strengthen our relationship.

Negative feelings are not only universally unavoidable, they’re trustworthy indicators we all have room to grow. If we validate and accept ourselves and each other, we can make life a little easier.

Have you have struggled with self-validation? Do you have stories where validation has helped your relationships? Let us know in the comments below!

Alison Kawa is our Marketing Director and User Happiness Agent. Her passions include building communities and making genuine connections. Come to one of our interactive dinner parties, and she’ll happily share a Five Breath Hug with you.