Have you ever gone to your parents or to a friend to talk about a difficult situation and felt like they aren’t listening? Maybe they just keep listing solutions to solve the problem and that did not feel helpful. It sounds like you may have been looking for VALIDATION!

Sometimes what is most helpful is for someone to tell you, “yeah, that sucks! I get it!”

What is validation?

  • Validation is the communication that someone’s experience, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors make sense, even if we don’t agree with it. When we validate, we communicate that we fully understand where the other person is coming from. By doing this, we increase the chances the other person feels calmer, or at the very least we decrease the chances they will become more upset.
  • Validation does not mean agreeing with the other person.

    Why validate?

    • Validation builds trust in a relationship and shows that we are listening.
    • Validation can help individuals regulate their emotions.
    • Invalidation is when someone communicates to us that the way we are feeling isn’t “right” or doesn’t make sense. Invalidation hurts and consistent invalidation can be quite harmful.

      Important things to validate

      • The person’s experiences (their feelings/emotions). An example of this would be to say to someone “I get why you’re so upset about your breakup” (even if you didn’t like their ex!).
      • The valid (and only the valid)
      • An example of this is that we would validate someone’s fear of flying (“I understand that getting on a plane is really scary for you”) but we wouldn’t validate that a plane would crash (so you wouldn’t say, “you are right, flying is extremely dangerous”). Doing so would be validating the invalid since it is highly unlikely that the plane would crash.

      Validate Yourself

      How can we validate ourselves?

      ** Rathus, J. H., & Miller, A. L. (2014). DBT skills manual for adolescents. Guilford Publications.

      1. Pay attention to how you are feeling

      Example: I cannot stop crying. I’m feeling really sad and lonely.

      2. Non-judgmentally describe your feelings

      Example: It makes sense that I’m feeling sad right now.

      3. Take yourself seriously

      Example: It’s okay to feel sad right now.

      4. Recognize that your emotion(s) makes sense given the circumstances

      Example: It makes sense that I’m feeling sad. I was looking forward to this party.

      5. Try to catch any negative judgments that you are having about your emotions or yourself.  

      Example: I am noticing that I’m having negative judgments about feeling sad (“I feel like a loser for being this upset”). So I am trying to approach this moment non-judgmentally (“It makes sense that I am feeling sad right now”).


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