If identifying triggers is the most important step, personal questioning is probably the most difficult step.
The basic premise behind validating feelings is the concept that they are not always right. We all have the right to physical and psychological safety. We all have the need to be happy and independent. Beyond that, we need to respect the rights and needs of others and they need to do the same. So the question of validation is about determining if it is something we "want" versus a right or a need. Because we are allowed to want things. However, we don't have the right to require it. So if something is upsetting us and we can't justify it as a right or a need, then we need to figure out why we are being unreasonable. And I can assure you, it's becase guilt, shame, fear or worry are out of balance.
I get it. It's a bit like interrogation, if you do it right, of course. The fundamental notion that your brain is deceiving you is unnerving. It's like thinking that the ground is solid and then it starts to swallow you up like quicksand. Doubting your thoughts is like considering whether or not you are crazy. And there's probably nothing more insulting given all the stigma associated with a person lacking in mental health. To that end, I can offer two consolations.
Everyone's brain lies to them.
And it's only a small fraction of the time.
If that is adequate for you, then great. You can move on. But if it is not, the alternative is worse. Ignorning your brain's deception doesn't stop it from happening. And every time it happens, you *will* skew reality. And every time you skew reality, conflict will occur. After all, conflict *is* the difference between the reality you expect and the reality that is. It is unavoidable. Think of the repurcussions.
Your happiness will decrease.
You will be more dependent on others.
You will have problems in relationships.
Work, friends, family, even casual acquaintances and random public interactions will pay a price.
And why? Because you refuse to admit to something that most people know. That we are all imperfect. And they not only know it about themselves, but they also know it about you. Ironically, that is the best part.
Nobody expects you to be infallible. In fact, the grand irony in ignoring your flaws is that it becomes your biggest flaw and you fool no one. They may not respond when you behave poorly. They may not say anything when your irrational nature shows. But that doesn't mean they aren't thinking it. And they definitely know. And if you don't admit it, it doesn't change anything. But if you do? Well, everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief. Reality can return and everyone doesn't have to walk on eggshells anymore, trying to figure out what your alternate reality is.
So the thing I tell people when they have Self-esteem issues - and it is always the "Am I good?" and "Do I have value?" at work here - is that they way you overcome them is by putting yourself out there raw. You literally prove that you are good and smart and strong by being vulnerable and admitting you make errors. Nothing makes more sense than acknowledging reality for what it is. And nothing makes you feel more secure than opening yourself up to someone else and being received like only emotions enable us to do.