The power of validation (and an apology)

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oftenly
 
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 06:48 pm
Pardon me, for I'm not sure where this post should be categorized.

I had an epiphany yesterday. I had just finished an argument with a friend about atheism and spirituality (not the scope of this post), and I thought I had made some excellent points. I support his atheist views and I think it's good that he's so passionate about it, but I was arguing that he should not be so ready to dismiss the concept of spirituality (as opposed to organized religion) for several reasons. He took these arguments as an affront to his values and pretty much told me to leave him alone because I was pissing him off.

Although I felt as though my argument had value and was logically secure, I realized that I was unsatisfied with the outcome. Of course I didn't expect him to mold his philosophies around everything I said, that would have been naive, but I surely didn't expect him to view what I said as a threat. This was at the end of my work day. I was doing some menial task while in a pretty bad mood as a result of our conversation, and after a while I thought:

"Why can't he tell me I'm right?"

Then I realized, that's all I want. That's all anybody wants. You participate in conversations like that, you argue your points and support what you have to say and are proud of it, and then what? Surely satisfaction doesn't like merely in gabbing away about something you're convinced is true. What are you really looking for?

This is what my epiphany was about. On a very fundamental level, we're looking, thirsting for the other party to say "yes, you are correct. I agree." Perhaps it goes even further - "not only do I agree, but I now see the folly in my own argument, and will subsequently adopt your superior point of view." Being right in our own minds simply isn't enough; we need to see the truth in our own minds reflected in the world around us and by the people with whom we interact.

I wondered then about the significance of this on the scale of human society. It seems as though the core of inter-personal conflicts (whether they be small arguments like mine with my friend, or much larger disagreements like the Arab-Israeli conflict) are a result of one side not validating the other.

Then I wondered something else: is it the fault of the party not doing the validating that relationships break down, or is it the party expecting the validation? To me, that seems very Zen. If you could discipline yourself to be content with your own truths and relate them responsibly to the reality of the outside world, then there is no conflict. If I could have posed my arguments to my friend while simultaneously not expecting him to adopt them (or even consider them, for that matter), perhaps I could have been at peace with myself while performing that menial task at the end of the day.

What do you guys think?

Also, I must apologize for not following up on my introduction thread some weeks ago. I asked some pretty deep questions and was stunned by the quality and breadth of the responses, but for some reason allowed myself to not reply to any of them. Mea culpa. For the record, I appreciated greatly everyone who responded, and I'll strive to be a more active participant of the forum.
 
Kolbe
 
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 07:12 pm
@oftenly,
I just thirst for being right due to a spiralling cycle of self-doubt/self-hatred due to personal problems in developmental years, finding brief happiness in success.

But yeah, you're probably right.
 
manored
 
Reply Mon 19 Jan, 2009 10:59 pm
@Kolbe,
Quite correct indeed. I myself had already realized that little nasty part of ourselves, thought I cannot remember a moment, I think it was a slow realization. I came to the conclusion of that feeling offended is stupid: It doesnt matters if the other disagrees, thats not gonna hurt you or change reality. I try to discipline myself to not get offended since then, thought, because I am human, I off course never manage to not fell at least a little bit offended...I am proud of knowing something that will make me overall happier in life thought Smile

Thought I must disagree then you say thats the only reason people engage in exchanges of ideas... there is also the professor side, that is, if you judge the ideas of others inferior you engage in discussion not only to obtain your confirmation, but also in a compassionate desire of elevating then to your same level, althought then both things happen you will probally be still seeing ourself as superior for having been the teacher Smile

Talking about spiralling cycles, I think I just realized one of myself: I think I feel like speaking a lot about my inner self because I feel that, being so honest, I will increase the respect for my person, and even admiting this is still just a manner of increasing the respect for my person. Its something so fundamental that I dont really think there is escaping Smile

A side comment: I believe what I said about feeling offended also goes to hatred: hating is only hardzarous for the hatter: It makes him feel bad and take ilogical course of actions.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2009 06:16 am
@oftenly,
oftenly wrote:
This is what my epiphany was about. On a very fundamental level, we're looking, thirsting for the other party to say "yes, you are correct. I agree." ... we need to see the truth in our own minds reflected in the world around us and by the people with whom we interact.


Yea, I think you're definitely onto something here. I wouldn't go so far as to say *everyone* engaged in like conversations is thirsting so, but my experience says a large portion of them are. I also believe that the tone, tenor and reactions we witness here on the Forum are due, in part, to this need.

Self-validation, a need for confirmation. Sure, we all have it to some lesser or greater extent. I only wish this was not so prevalent as was the willingness to really work to understand before refuting or dismissing.

oftenly wrote:
... If I could have posed my arguments to my friend while simultaneously not expecting him to adopt them (or even consider them, for that matter), perhaps I could have been at peace with myself while performing that menial task at the end of the day...


Yea, I think so. I've virtually given up on many fronts; retreating to a "read and like or not"-stance. For so many of these issues, I've found that many who feel an inclination to speak up does so just because their 'stance' is so vehemently-entrenched. In such a case, why might I even attempt a retort?

So yea, listening to understand; complimenting or agreeing on what you can and just letting-it-go are often good strategies. On rare occasions people will ask how I feel about something, but I think you're correct in that many just want validation that what they think has worth. Who can blame 'em?

Good post & questions. Thanks
 
MuseEvolution
 
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2009 08:52 am
@oftenly,
I'll admit to a fairly strong desire for validation, certainly of "rightness," but also of experience. Often I find myself in a pissy mood if those I give advice to (asked for or not) don't seem to take my advice into account. Usually the advice I give is based on personal experience or topics I've personally studied to a fairly thorough degree. It's still validation I'm looking for, but more in the form of following my advice than in stating that I'm correct about something.

I would hesitate to attribute this kind of action to a shortcoming in all occasions. Often, our sense of self (which, I understand some will inevitably argue is unnecessary or undesirable - I disagree) is created and reinforced to a vast degree by identifying what we are not, by what things we take a stand against. So in some instances I believe we're looking for a validation (or a social permission) of a point of view that we can use to self-identify more than simply someone to say, "you are correct."

Part of the importance I feel in joining this forum is learning to conceed points to others rather than simply stubbornly going on and on about things without truly taking into account the opinions and view points of others. I hope to learn how to and when to myself say, "you are right," to all of you.
 
oftenly
 
Reply Wed 21 Jan, 2009 03:01 pm
@oftenly,
Khethil wrote:
On rare occasions people will ask how I feel about something, but I think you're correct in that many just want validation that what they think has worth. Who can blame 'em?


I will admit, these kinds of motivations are pretty complex, and I don't pretend to understand them with the simplistic view I gave in the first post. I do think, however, there's a discrepancy between a person seeking validation and that person validating. The phrase "just waiting for your turn to speak" that comes into my head much too often when having conversations with others. It seems to desire to be validated far outweighs the desire to validate, and I think that identifies an important aspect in any one person's personal growth. I'll stop here, though, before I'm forced to tie it into the general teachings of most if not all contemporary religions.

MuseEvolution wrote:
So in some instances I believe we're looking for a validation (or a social permission) of a point of view that we can use to self-identify more than simply someone to say, "you are correct."


That reminds me of a story I forgot to mention in my first post:

Back in high school I spent a weekend at my friend's house in the middle of New York state. One afternoon we were driving around picking up some of his friends to go to a party, and at one of their houses we had to stop to wait for him to come out. When he finally did emerge from his front door it was clear he was in the final stages of an extraordinarily heated argument with his parents. I forget the details, but that doesn't matter... when he finally got to the car he said something along the lines of "man, parents suck."

Now, this was the first time I had ever met the guy, and I wasn't aware of what was apparently a pretty crappy relationship between him and his parents. As a result I couldn't help but think "oh, come on, parents don't suck, they must love you and blah blah blah," but I didn't say anything. My friend, however, didn't hesitate before saying "yeah, they really do."

That kind of took me by surprise. It was an innocent-enough conversation, sure, but I couldn't understand why someone would ever want to agree to a statement as childish and naive as "parents suck." I didn't realize until just recently that he didn't say it because he agreed with it; he said it for the benefit of his friend. He validated what his friend was saying in a kind of noble act of friendship. As for the actual content of the statement, well, "let the fool remain foolish so that he may become wise," and I believe an attempt to dissuade his friend of what he was feeling probably wouldn't have helped.

Sorry, long story... just a curious token that I think represents the psychology of this kind of thing well.
 
nameless
 
Reply Wed 21 Jan, 2009 04:19 pm
@oftenly,
oftenly;43312 wrote:
On a very fundamental level, we're looking, thirsting for the other party to say "yes, you are correct. I agree."

Yes, you are correct. I agree.

Quote:
Perhaps it goes even further - "not only do I agree, but I now see the folly in my own argument, and will subsequently adopt your superior point of view."

No, he is correct also!
It's all a matter of Perspective.
Win/win and 'ego'/vanity be damned!

Quote:
If I could have posed my arguments to my friend while simultaneously not expecting him to adopt them (or even consider them, for that matter), perhaps I could have been at peace with myself while performing that menial task at the end of the day.

If you can pose your 'understanding' in the form of questions, leading the 'other' to respond from 'within' (lead him to his own mind), engage in critical thought, you might find more 'communion'.
In the end, you are both correct from/for/as (all are) unique Perspectives.
 
manored
 
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 11:39 am
@nameless,
If that was totally true all discussion would be meangliness, however people do not see all view points at once, no matter how many they can see, and therefore can have their view-points changed.
 
Joe
 
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 12:05 pm
@manored,
Well, some say were trying to convince others. I think we use that to try and convince ourselves. Life is duality if you will. Between that duality is where we are.

So conversations go three way for me.

1. I want to be validated
2. I want to be discredited
3. I accept Everything or nothing

and since we know everything and nothing at the same time, all thats left is to listen and perceive. Validation after that is primitive. Besides i think listening is the only importance because it helps me remember what I dont need to validate.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 02:29 pm
@oftenly,
There are probably some evolutionary factors concerning the relationship between people and their ability to convince one another. Certainly social evolution places a primacy on one's powers of persuasion, so it would not be hard to believe that convincing another person of one's own views (especially in the mental realm of morality) would provide some basic satisfaction on the level of sexual reproduction.

On a less scientific and more philosophical/psychological view, we can certainly see that each person makes some sort of investment in his or her beliefs. A belief does not simply represent what one thinks is true, rather it represents what one has spent his or her time developing and what one has lived his or her life according to. When one invests so much in something, it seems only natural to be reluctant to give it up.
 
manored
 
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 04:00 pm
@Joe,
Joe wrote:
Well, some say were trying to convince others. I think we use that to try and convince ourselves. Life is duality if you will. Between that duality is where we are.

So conversations go three way for me.

1. I want to be validated
2. I want to be discredited
3. I accept Everything or nothing

and since we know everything and nothing at the same time, all thats left is to listen and perceive. Validation after that is primitive. Besides i think listening is the only importance because it helps me remember what I dont need to validate.
This is an interesting view-point.
 
 

 
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