The Healing Power of Validation

Some therapists claim we’d all be out of a job if people learned how to validate each other. Yes, it’s that important to your mental well-being. 

What exactly is validation? Merriam-Webster defines it as, “to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of [fill in the blank].”

To validate another’s feelings, you do NOT need to understand them, agree with them, or condone them. You can just recognize that their feelings are legitimate for them

For example, let’s say parents are fighting over whether their teenage daughter can start wearing makeup. 

The way many of us engage in conflict is to argue for our stance and against the opposition. This escalates emotion and can turn into a fight and/or an impasse. 

By contrast, validation would look something like this;

Partner 1; “I understand that you don’t want our daughter to grow up too fast. It’s scary and sad to acknowledge that she isn’t our little girl anymore.”

Partner 2; “I hear you when you say that she feels like an outcast at school because she isn’t allowed to wear makeup. I understand why that bothers you – you don’t want her friends to make fun of her and make her feel bad.”

They are not agreeing with each other or condoning each other’s position. They are merely acknowledging how the other person feels. This can significantly deescalate a conflict, reinforcing that they are heard and respected by each other. It’s much easier to find a solution in this state than during a fight. 

Don’t take my word for it, try it out. When that one friend complains about something that you think is no big deal, just recognize how they feel. Let them know you see it and accept it. We all need validation. It is a great gift to give someone.

If you want to supercharge this tactic, try self-validation. Take note of how often you judge, second-guess or criticize yourself. Try validating yourself instead; “I’m really stressed out over picking out a baby shower gift. I guess it’s a big deal to me.” See how much better this feels than saying, “this is so stupid, why am I stressing about this? I always do this, it’s so embarrassing,” etc. We think invalidating ourselves will help us get less emotional over things, but it has the exact opposite effect.

If you need professional help with your mental well-being, give us a call at our clinics in Apex, Fuquay-Varina, or Cary.

CarrieAnn Lefsaker

Mental Health Student Intern