Validation is a concept with depth of meaning, it is also a technique that when applied regularly can help change your life.
On a simple level, validation is acknowledging the emotion of the other person. At a deeper level it teaches us how to open ourselves to listen to and learn about others, to be curious as to how they feel and think and act. For many it is the first step towards changing themselves: once you can validate others, you can validate yourself. And in doing this we learn the importance of being non-judgemental and of practising acceptance.
It is said it takes 28 days to begin to develop a practice. Can you accept the Validation Challenge? Every day, find three occasions to validate the emotions of another person and observe the effect it has. For a month. When we do this we can see that other people soften towards us. We can practise when we go shopping, catch public transport, chat to a neighbour - we don't need to limit this to our close family and friends.
How? When a person speaks to you, listen to how they might feel. It isn't easy, it requires you to listen and think.
In the everyday world, someone might say, 'It's a nice day today.' Hmm, they don't say anything about how they feel, or do they? If it's a nice day, they are feeling good about the day for some reason. Maybe it's warm and sunny. You could respond: 'I think we all feel better when it's a sunny day.'
At home when things are tense, someone might say, 'Why didn't you buy any bread?' and perhaps their tone of voice is a bit abrupt. You could respond: 'You might be a bit frustrated with me. I am sorry there is no bread there, I didn't get to the shop after work. I planned to go after I got home. Can you wait, or would you like to have biscuits instead?' This exchange is more challenging because we feel threatened with the tension and implicit blame, also we have to think about the other person and how they feel.
Lundsberg, G & J: You don’t have to make everything all better Penguin, 2000.
A general self-help manual, this book explains validation and why and how it works. A great primer.
Non Violent Communication – A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD, published by Puddle Dancer Press Book, Encinstas, CA, USA
Fruzzetti, Alan Ph D: Encouraging Peace in a BPD Family Fruzzetti explains the differences between validating and invalidating responses and BPD, and why it can be so hard to do. Alan has a number of excellent videos on BPD, DBT and so forth.Follow the video link.
Rosenberg, Marshall Ph D: The Difference between Feelings and Thoughts. Marshall has excellent videos on YouTube on ‘non-violent communication’. His work has a deep philosophical basis and it takes validation to a deeper level for us. This 12 minute video is highly recommended to help us understand the concept of validation.Follow the video link
Harris, Russ Ph D: The Struggle Switch. Often when we feel certain emotions we can develop secondary emotions in response. This video briefly describes how by turning the struggle switch off we can release the struggle associated with the emotion and become more accepting of it. Follow video link