Have you ever shared your feelings with someone and been told you are overreacting, or you shouldn’t feel that way? Yet, if it hurts you, then it hurts you!

ValidationNo one gets to decide what is worthy to get upset over. We are all different people. We have different capacities, different levels of resiliency, and varied life experiences. What might be easy for you might not be for someone else. This is where the opportunity for validation comes in.

One of the best ways to create safety and security in your relationships is by showing your partner that their feelings matter, which is done by validation. Validation is the affirmation, recognition and acceptance that your partners internal experience is valid. Giving your loved one validation illustrates an interest in listening and learning. It also provides the person a path to heal because they are being heard.

However, often people shy away from offering validation, especially in romantic relationships and during the face of conflict as they don’t agree with the feeling that is being expressed. Yet, when you validate someone’s feelings, you are not conceding that they are right and you are wrong. Instead, you are showing them that they are allowed and encouraged to feel whatever they feel, even if you don’t understand or if they don’t even understand it. When we are carrying heavy burdens, validation can feel almost physical in the ability to ease some pain, to feel connected and as though that person is concerned for you and with you.

Things NOT to say:
You shouldn’t feel that way. Try not to think about it.
Everything happens for a reason. You are overreacting.
That’s no big deal! (No toxic positivity.)

Things TO say:
I love you and want to know more.
You are absolutely allowed to feel that way. I can see why that hurts you.
I am listening.
How can I help or support you?

With constructive validation phrases, you can normalize your partner’s feelings, recognize their circumstances and reassure them that all feelings are valid. By engaging and putting your own defenses aside, you can do wonders for your relationship with validation.

If you have a question you would like to ask or a topic to be addressed in next month’s article, please email jenn@pinkertonpsychotherapy.com. If you would like to schedule an individual appointment, please contact us at 713.800.6999 or www.pinkertonpsychotherapy.com.

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