Being dyslexic I see patterns easily. One of the ways this shows up is seeing patterns in people. You know, the kind of behaviour patterns that can indicate some psychological problems. It means I don’t have to see clients for months on end to get to the root of a problem. But recently I have expanded my pattern observation focus and have started to look at problems in society, asking myself one question. If there was one need all of my clients have in common, what would that need be?

It struck me, that it’s ‘validation’. We all need to feel seen, heard and especially validated. Through all of the conversations I have had, a common thread has been to wonder ‘Is there something wrong with me?’, or ‘Have I got this right?’ 

The most common reason for anxiety is to wonder what other people think of you, or to wonder if you’re doing the right thing by other people. Am I likable? Am I lovable? 

I decided to alter my behaviour towards other people with one simple change. I decided that when I see people I genuinely like, I allow my face to light up when I see them, for the first time, in a day. It’s not that I don’t smile, but I mean light up with delight. I don’t know why, but it seems easier and less vulnerable to be indifferent. I think we have this weird idea that if we show someone that we like them, we will be rejected. As if fondness has a limit and if you get it wrong it becomes creepy. Wanting someone to like you is a bit creepy, but liking someone else with no expectation or desire for them to be or do anything, is adorable. 

Since putting in this one simple amendment, my life has changed. I feel different about myself. It seems to me that when you give out validation to others it comes back to you. I did feel vulnerable at first and I didn’t want people to ask too much of me. But that hasn’t been the case, it just feels as if the support networks that I have became deeper. I believe self development isn’t sustainable without community. Validating people with a simple facial expression can build bonds, possibly deeper ones than words can say.