PSA: Validation is Important in Relationships

Over the winter break, I had a hardship that really brought me down. My grandma wasn’t doing well mentally, and it broke my heart to see the woman I loved not herself anymore. That, and along with her calling me almost daily, not making any sense; I eventually broke down. I vented to someone about what was going on and how I was depressed. “Don’t take it personally,” was what this person told me. Even my own family seemed to brush me off at times, thinking her condition wasn’t that bad. I felt like I had no support and continued to struggle. Was I crazy? Maybe I was overreacting.

Then it hit me. I have felt this feeling before. Someone saying, or hinting, that my situation isn’t that bad, that it could be worse. I didn’t vent my whole life sob story to them, I just made a statement about why I was upset at this point in my life. It also got me thinking about if I have done this before. Judged a friend because their situation didn’t seem “worthy” of being upset over. Undermining the feelings of others is something we often do without really thinking. Validating the feelings of the friends, family, and partnersis part of a healthy relationship. Here are some helpful tips to validate someone’s feelings.

 

  1. LISTEN. Just because you don’t agree with how someone is feeling, doesn't mean you can change them. Don’t just jump into their venting session, and tell them “advice” that their situation isn’t bad, or tell that person what they should do. Just show them that you are listening with body language, eye contact, and saying things like “okay”, or “I see.” Even though it may be uncomfortable, show you are present in the moment.
  2. Ask questions to try and figure out more of what they are feeling. They can be simple like, “how are you feeling now?” or “how did that effect you?”
  3. After the person is done venting, repeat what they said back to them. For example, saying something like "you feel upset because..." This shows you are paying attention and that you know their feelings are important. Accept their feelings and show you care about the person.
  4. If someone isn’t capable of validating your feelings, understand this person isn’t worth it. Don’t let a person take control of you, with time, you can validate yourself.

 

Not everyone has the natural ability of empathy, but we can all try, and make those we have relationships know they are important to us.