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I am so excited to write about Validation. I am passionate about validation and want to teach it from the rooftops. I believe it is a basic human need. We all need to be validated. We can validate those around us as well as ourselves. The information in this post came from Michael S. Sorensen’s book “I Hear You” I highly recommend it.
Validation is the quickest, simplest and most powerful way to improve a relationship. Any relationship. Romantic or platonic. With children, siblings, parents, friends, co-workers or your spouse. And most importantly the relationship with yourself. Validation is key!
Here are some things that validation helps with:
The change when you are validated is almost tangible. It’s amazing the shift that takes place mentally and emotionally when we are validated. Here are 4 steps to validate.
Give your full attention. If you’re distracted, let the other person know and ask to talk at a later time. When you are available to talk, close your laptop, turn off the TV, and keep your attention on the conversation at hand.
This situation comes up with my kids a lot. I will be in the middle of a young women’s meeting or cooking dinner and instead of just blowing them off I let them know that I want to listen to them but I’m busy and we can talk later. The key is not forgetting later!
Invite them to open up. If you suspect someone wants to talk about something but isn’t comfortable initiating the conversation, try asking a simple question like, “You seem upset. What’s up?” “Oh man that would be so hard. Want to talk about it?”
Be observant. As much as 70 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Pay close attention to the other person’s tone of voice and body language to better understand them.
Match their energy. If the other person is happy or excited, then smile, laugh, and share in the thrill. If they are discouraged or sad, then be respectful and speak in a softer, more compassionate manner.
Offer micro validation. Offer short comments such as “no way!”, “Seriously?”, or “I’d feel that way too” to help the other person feel comfortable sharing. This lets them know that you are listening, withholding judgment, and seeing things from their perspective.
Don’t try to fix it. Refrain from offering advice, feedback, or assurance until step 3. Avoid comments such as “at least . . . ”, “you should . . . ”, or “that’s not true.”
In a situation where a friend (or daughter) tells you that she’s fat it’s tempting to say “That’s not true!” and dismiss the conversation because you don’t want her to entertain that thought. But you didn’t uncover why they think they are fat and you didn’t change their mind with that one statement. The truth is they are going to keep thinking they are fat after you claim “that’s not true” and what’s worse is they won’t view you as someone they can open up to. What would be better is to let them know you heard them and then ask questions to get to know what is making them feel that way. From there you can validate.
Validate their emotion. Once there’s a pause in the conversation or the other person is done sharing, validate them more fully. This is best done by 1) acknowledging the emotions they’ve expressed, and 2) offering justification for feeling those emotions.
Validate, even if you disagree. Not only is it possible to validate someone you disagree with, it’s advantageous to do so. When you validate the other person, they become significantly more likely to listen to a differing opinion or advice. Once you show that you truly hear them, they will be much more likely to hear you.
Studies have shown that people don’t move on until they feel heard. If a person doesn’t feel heard they won’t move on and hear a different opinion because they are stuck on the fact that no one heard theirs. Think about it. Have you ever seen this happen in an argument?
Not sure what the other person is feeling? Ask. A simple question such as “How are you feeling about all this?” or “I imagine you’re pretty upset?” is often enough to get the clarity you need to validate.
If you can relate, consider letting them know. Use phrases such as “I can relate” or “I had a similar experience” instead of “I know exactly how you feel.” Be sure to turn the focus back to them after sharing your experience.
If you can’t relate, let them know. Acknowledging that you haven’t been in someone else’s shoes and don’t know exactly how they feel can be incredibly validating.
Tell the truth. Resist the urge to lie to make someone feel better. Instead, acknowledge the truth, validate their emotions, then provide comfort and assurance in step 3.
Offering feedback or advice is entirely optional. Perhaps someone has shared an exciting or proud moment, or perhaps you simply have no advice to give. Validation is healing in and of itself. It is not always necessary or appropriate to give advice.
Avoid giving unsolicited feedback. Just because someone is sharing a difficult experience doesn’t mean they are looking for advice. Determine whether they are open to receiving feedback by either 1) asking what they are expecting from you (e.g., “How can I help?”), or 2) asking permission to give advice (e.g., “I have a few thoughts on the matter. May I share?”).
If you do give feedback, lead with a validating statement. Even though you just offered validation in step 2, prefacing your feedback with one more validating statement will reiterate the fact that you’ve heard them and are connected with their experience.
Use “and” instead of “but.” Doing so will help you avoid inadvertently negating your validation, comments, etc.
Listen to the difference: “The sleep deprivation that comes with a new baby is hard, but you will get through it.” vs. “The sleep deprivation that comes with a new baby is so hard and I know that you will get through it.”
Avoid Absolutes. When giving difficult feedback, replace absolute terms such as “always” and “never” with softer (and often more accurate) alternatives such as “often” or “rarely.” If you do choose to use an absolute term, lead with “I think,” “I feel,” etc. instead of “you.”
Re-validate the emotion. Whether you’ve given advice in step 3 or not, work in one final bit of validation at the end of the conversation. Doing so reiterates the fact that you hear and understand the other person and ends the conversation on a positive, emotionally uplifting note.
Validate the vulnerability. Sharing personal thoughts, experiences, or emotions can be difficult, uncomfortable, and even scary. If someone opens up to you, thank them for it and validate the fact that doing so can be quite difficult.
In certain situations, steps 1 and 2 (Listening Empathically and Validating the Emotion) may be enough. At other times, you may go through the whole set multiple times. Every situation will be different. You’ll know what feels natural and genuine in the moment and, with practice, you’ll find that validation becomes second nature.
A huge part of Self-Compassion is validating yourself. Not only do you see yourself in a clear light but you are able to validate yourself. In my self compassion workbook you go through the process of uncovering the reason you are critical of yourself and you learn how to soften that inner voice. On day 6 in particular you learn to reframe and validate.
I hope you pay attention to the validation that happens or doesn’t happen around you. I hope you are able to validate yourself and those around you. I promise it will change your relationship with yourself and all your other relationships.
Check out Michael S. Sorensen’s book, blog and podcast for great information on validation. Michaelssorensen.com
I am excited for you to read Kara’s story. Kara has overcome some serious health issues and has applied self-compassion during the process. Kara is someone who serves constantly on top of her already very busy life. She’s never too busy to help someone in need. I love that about her. She has a platform and podcast that is called Today I am Enough. I highly recommend it.
One evening in 2016 I was lying in bed with my husband talking about how I just felt like I was falling short in every single aspect of my life. I was frustrated, tired, and beating myself up over all of it. Then, a thought came – you are not alone in these feelings. I knew deep inside that so many other women struggled to feel like they were measuring up to their own standards. I felt compelled to do something about it. At the beginning of 2017 I launched the first episode of the Today I am Enough Podcast. I was excited. I was going to be sharing stories of women who had stories of struggle and of enduring and finding themselves. I loved it. I loved talking to women from so many backgrounds and experiences. As time progressed, I felt a disconnect with my own story. What was my story? After about a year, I became overwhelmed with my own life and the podcast trickled into the background of my life. I’m a mom of 6 kids, who are 7 years apart, and like all moms, they keep me busy. I could feel myself slipping. I did not know my own worth deep down. I knew I needed to do some work on myself in order to really propel my work with Today I am Enough forward. In December of 2018 I was diagnosed with a VERY low thyroid after some unexplained weight gain, excessive tiredness, hair loss, and anxiety. Six months later I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease. I really struggled to love myself. My body was broken. It wasn’t working the way it was meant to work. I couldn’t do things I loved doing. I couldn’t eat what I wanted to eat if I wanted to help bring this disease into remission. I was so mad at my body for breaking down on me. I have been blessed to know Brittany for a while as a neighbor and friend. She came out with her Self-Compassion workbook and I knew I needed to get my hands on it. I was so grateful for it! Brittany’s workbook really helped me understand how I was thinking about my new found body. It helped me really work through my thoughts and feelings of what was happening to me and what had happened and how I could still find joy moving forward. Learning to change my thought patterns from Brittany’s book was the beginning of my life changing and starting anew! I started to realize the power behind my own thoughts. You can either wallow and allow yourselves to really go places in our heads that you shouldn’t, or you can offer love and compassion to yourselves in a way that only you can do for yourselves! Learning to forgive myself, and learning to redirect my thoughts, to thoughts that weren’t hurting me, but were lifting me, was incredibly powerful. In January of 2021 I was able to relaunch my podcast. I have a renewed mission to help women, as Brittany helped me. Learning that you are enough and have worth is essential. It is always within you. It never leaves. Your worth is a part of you. Each day looks different, but the effort you can put forth today may look different than the effort you put forward tomorrow – but both are enough! You don’t have to be busy and doing things all the time to be enough.Learning to forgive yourself is life changing. When you can learn to forgive yourself life opens up possibilities that were unimaginable before. When you forgive, you start to accept yourselves for who you are without the need for change or judgement. Learning to speak kindly to the women looking in the mirror is going to give you confidence and love for others. She is so important! Be kind to her. Stop saying things to her that you’d never want anyone else to ever hear. She’s worth taking care of, I promise! She’s incredible. She’s enoug
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I am so excited to write about Validation. I am passionate about validation and want to teach it from the rooftops….Read More
I am excited for you to read Kara’s story. Kara has overcome some serious health issues and has applied self-compassion during…Read More
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