Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A-Z: Validation Station

Not talking about for your parking pass.  Of course, it's important for us all to develop a strong inner sense of self, and not be constantly seeking the approval of others.

Yet both giving and receiving emotional validation is a key part of being a human being. People by nature are interdependent with one another.  What brings people together? A sense that we share the same feelings about: progressive music, or baseball, or RomCom movies.

When I am overflowing with feelings, and go to someone I love, I don't want to be cut off, told my feelings are stupid, or "fixed."


What Validation Is
To validate someone's feelings is first to accept someone's feelings. Next, it is to understand them, and finally it is to nurture them. 

To validate is to acknowledge and accept one's unique identity and individuality. Invalidation, on the other hand, is to reject, ignore, or judge their feelings, and hence, their individual identity. 

When we validate someone, we allow them to safely share their feelings and thoughts. We are reassuring them that it is okay to have the feelings they have. We are demonstrating that we will still accept them after they have shared their feelings. We let them know that we respect their perception of things at that moment. We help them feel heard, acknowledged, understood and accepted. 

Sometimes validation entails listening, sometimes it is a nod or a sign of agreement or understanding, sometimes it can be a hug or a gentle touch. Sometimes it means being patient when the other person is not ready to talk.

The concept of validation is what's behind this phrase from the movie Avatar, "I see you."

Being seen, being accepted, being honored not for the shell of our bodies, but as a soul, a divine spark. Namaste is sometimes translated as "I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light and of peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one." (from

from The Antidote To Anger and Frustration:
Emotional Validation is a Basic Human Need
Emotional validation is something we all seek and crave far more than we realize. When we are upset, angry, frustrated, disappointed or hurt, our tendency is to want to discuss our feelings with others so we can get it off our chest.

However, getting things off our chest by telling others about our feelings is not always satisfying or cathartic. If the person to whom we vent simply looks at us and shrugs or responds by giving us advice or by telling us what we did wrong, we won't feel any better and we will probably feel worse after speaking with them.

What we seek when venting to others is for that person to 'get it', to understand what happened to us and why we feel the way we do. We want them to validate our feelings by conveying that understanding to us and to do so with a dollop of sympathy or empathy (read: How to Test Your Empathy).

When we are extremely angry or upset, we tell someone why and they totally get it truly and effectively validates our feelings. As a result, the relief and catharsis we experience is tremendous! Only then can we actually let go of at least some of the feelings we had built up. It is that which feels like an authentic visceral 'release'.

We don't have to agree with what someone is feeling to validate those feelings. We don't even have to be particularly empathetic to be good at validation.

Here's one technique, the I AM MAD. (Works for more than BPD)
Because I tend to be a fixer, myself, one thing I try to do when someone is telling me a story and I am overflowing with advice, is take a step back, and ASK, "Do you need suggestions or advice, or are you just looking to vent?"

Hoping with practice to get ever better at it.

My A-Z theme is Issues related to Mental Health or Mental Illness.

Have you ever felt emotionally invalidated?
How did it make you feel?
Do you try hard to validate the feelings of others?
Got any good tips?