Is Support Overrated?
If you check Cambridge Dictionary you can find following definitions of support:
- to agree with and give encouragement to someone or something because you want him, her, or it to succeed;
- to help someone emotionally or in a practical way;
- to give a person the money they need in order to buy food and clothes and pay for somewhere to live;
- to provide the right conditions, such as enough food and water, for life.
Non of this definitions includes that in order to support someone you need to believe in this person, sometimes even more that the person believes himself / herself. Believing in a person and demonstrating that in verbal and nonverbal way we call validation.
From communication perspective, validation is a way of verbal and non-verbal communication by which we show that:
- we accept / acknowledge / validate a person we talk to or
- we show that a relationship is important to us even though we have disagreements.
Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person although we might disagree with his / her way of thinking, emotional responses or behaviors.
The problem arises when people send double message, when level of support and level of validation are not aligned.
Its clear that we want to avoid situations and relationships with low support and low validation and that high support and high validation relationships are more welcome. But what about other two combinations?
High Validation / Low Support
You show the other person (verbally and non-verbally) that you believe in him/her. At the same time you do not actively help him / her, because you believe that he / she will learn more through current struggle than with your support. Ideally you communicate this to him / her.
Low Validation / High Support
You essentially do not believe in the person you are interacting with, but you do support him / her to finish a specific task. This is often demonstrated by parents when they do things for their kids but essentially they either don’t see them capable to finish those things or they are struggling with their own fears.
Support without validation can help on the short run, but on the long run crates more mess that we can imagine. Be careful with these type of relationships!
Validation without support is very interesting for exploration. Although it might feel tough it is often quite healthy, so give yourself time and space to explore such relationships.
Without validation support is not just overrated but might be dangerous too!