Feeling Validation in a Torn Family

No One Understands Me: Feeling Validation in a Torn Family  

Feeling Validation in a Torn FamilyComing to terms with a mental health diagnosis when you’re a young adult can be distressing to say the least. You may find yourself isolating from your family because they don’t seem to understand. Or, you may see a friend being consoled and supported by his parents and think to yourself “I hate my mom.” You don’t mean this, of course. You care for your family; otherwise, you wouldn’t feel so hurt. But, you wish you could break through to them and receive the comfort, encouragement, and understanding that you long for.

Validation is possible, but it takes work on both sides.


Surprisingly, the first step in receiving validation from others is by validating yourself. Self-validation is an incredibly powerful tool of self-love and acceptance. As an African proverb states, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” If you have recently been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, such as Asperger’s Syndrome, ADD/ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, you may be feeling confusion, anger, or shame. Your entire identity may have gone topsy-turvy. Questions may run through your head on a loop: What does this mean? Who am I?

Practice self-validation with Dr. Marsha Linehan’s six levels of validation below:

  1. Being Present. Become aware and accepting of your emotions without pushing them away.
  2. Reflecting Accurately. Acknowledge how you feel. Reflect on the emotion, what triggered it, and any physical sensations that accompany it.
  3. When your feelings are unclear, guess what they are by examining how you think others might feel in a similar situation.
  4. Validating by History. Bearing in mind what happened to you in the past, it is understandable for you to feel a certain way. For example, maybe your parents were unsupportive before, so you feel hesitant to share your feelings with them again.
  5. Knowing that virtually anyone would be upset in a given situation can help your reactions and emotions feel less strange. For instance, if your diagnosis caused you to feel fear, know that others would probably feel scared as well.
  6. Radical Genuineness. Accepting yourself, flaws and all, is key to self-validation. Remember that you are not your behavior or your diagnosis.

Validation from Your Family

Once you have begun to validate yourself, you may have the confidence to request validation from others. That’s right: if you want validation, you will have to ask for it. In a torn family, or any family for that matter, you cannot expect your family members to read your mind.

In helping them better understand what you are going through, be forthcoming. Share with them all the education you have learned about your diagnosis, direct them to helpful online resources, and encourage them to ask you questions. Perhaps they have been emotionally neglectful because they simply do not know what to do. Leading them to helpful resources can guide them to supporting and caring for you better.

Next, be vocal when others ask what you need. Shrugging your shoulders and making them guess won’t have a satisfactory outcome. If you just want someone to listen, say so. If you could use a hug or a shoulder to cry on, boldly ask for it. Even if their reaction is not quite what you hoped, you can give them points for making an effort. And, until they truly learn how to validate you, you can practice self-love and acceptance on your own.