Have you ever felt like you were freaking out about something, and someone just… didn’t get it? 

Maybe you aced a presentation at work, but your boss just mumbled a “good job” without really looking up. Or perhaps you poured your heart out about a fight with a friend, only to be met with a dismissive “get over it.”

That, my friend, is the opposite of validation. But what is validation, exactly? 

It’s a big word that gets thrown around a lot, but understanding what it really means can be a game-changer in your relationships (and for your own self-esteem!).

What is Validation From a Person?

Imagine you’re feeling super stressed about an upcoming exam. Your stomach is in knots, and you’re convinced you’re going to fail. You talk to a friend, spilling out all your anxieties. Now, here’s where validation comes in.

A validating friend wouldn’t just say, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine!” (This might be meant to be helpful, but it kind of brushes off your feelings, right?) Instead, they might say something like, “Wow, that sounds like a lot of pressure. It’s totally normal to feel nervous before a big test.” 

See the difference? They’re acknowledging your feelings (validation!) without necessarily agreeing that you’re going to fail (because, hey, you might totally ace it!).

What is the Meaning of Validation?

Imagine you’re walking down the street and see a car with a bright orange parking ticket plastered on the windshield. Now, you might not know the situation – maybe they forgot to feed the meter, maybe the meter was broken. 

But regardless of the reason, that ticket is a clear sign: there’s a problem, and it needs to be addressed.

Validation works similarly in relationships. 

When someone shares their feelings with you, whether it’s excitement about a new job or frustration over a fight with a friend, their emotions are like that parking ticket. They’re a signal that something is going on for them internally.

Validation is about acknowledging that emotional “parking ticket.” 

It’s letting them know you see it, you hear it, and it’s valid. You don’t necessarily need to agree with the reason behind the ticket (maybe they parked illegally!), but you recognize its legitimacy.

Here’s the key difference between validation and, say, offering solutions:

  • Validation: “It sounds like you’re feeling really stressed about the presentation. That makes sense, it’s a big deal!” (Acknowledges the emotion)
  • Offering solutions (not always validating): “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine! Just practice a little more.” (Minimizes the emotion)

Validation is about creating a safe space for someone’s emotions, even the negative ones. It lets them know they’re not alone and their feelings are worthy of being heard.

The Power of Validation

Think about a time you felt strongly about something, but no one seemed to understand. Maybe you were nervous about a big game or heartbroken after a breakup. How did it feel to have those feelings dismissed or minimized?

On the other hand, imagine someone who truly listened to you and acknowledged your emotions. It probably felt pretty good, right?

Validation is powerful. It can strengthen relationships, boost self-esteem, and foster open communication. It lets people know they’re seen, heard, and understood, which is a fundamental human need.

What Does Validating Someone Mean?

So, what does it really mean to validate someone? Here are some key points:

  • Listen actively: Pay attention to what the person is saying, both verbally and nonverbally.
  • Acknowledge their feelings: Let them know you hear them, “It sounds like you’re feeling really frustrated right now,” or “That must have been really scary.”
  • Don’t judge or minimize: Avoid phrases like “You shouldn’t feel that way,” or “It’s not a big deal.”
  • Offer support: Let them know you’re there for them, “Is there anything I can do to help?” or “I’m here to listen if you want to talk more.”

Here’s the key: Validation isn’t about agreeing. You can completely disagree with someone’s decision or perspective, but still validate their right to feel that way.

What is Validation in Relationships?

Imagine this: you come home from a rough day at work, feeling frustrated and defeated. You share your experience with your partner, expecting some empathy and understanding. 

But instead, they respond with a dismissive “It wasn’t that bad, just get over it.”

Ouch. That stings, right? A lack of validation in relationships can be incredibly damaging. Here’s why validation is the secret sauce of strong connections:

  • Strengthens Connection: When we feel validated, it creates a sense of safety and trust. We know we can be our authentic selves, even when we’re feeling vulnerable. This fosters a deeper connection and allows the relationship to thrive.
  • Boosts Self-Esteem: Constant validation isn’t healthy, but feeling heard and understood on a regular basis is crucial for self-esteem. When our partners, friends, and family validate our emotions, it reinforces our sense of self-worth and makes us feel like we matter.
  • Improves Communication: Validation opens the door to more open and honest communication. People are more likely to share their true feelings if they know they’ll be met with understanding, not judgment. This allows for deeper conversations and better conflict resolution.
  • Reduces Conflict: A lot of arguments stem from feeling unheard or misunderstood. Validation can help de-escalate situations by acknowledging the other person’s perspective, even if you disagree. This can lead to more productive conversations and less fighting.

Beyond the Basics: Different Types of Validation

Validation isn’t just about saying “I hear you.” Here are some different ways to validate someone in a relationship:

  • Emotional Validation: Acknowledge their feelings, “It sounds like you’re feeling really hurt right now.”
  • Experience Validation: Recognize their perspective, “That must have been a frustrating situation to be in.”
  • Effort Validation: Appreciate their actions, “I can see how much work you put into that project.”

Remember, validation isn’t about agreeing. You can disagree with someone’s actions or opinions while still validating their right to feel a certain way.

The Ripple Effect of Validation

Validation isn’t a one-way street. The more you validate others, the more likely they are to validate you in return. This creates a positive cycle of understanding and empathy, strengthening all your relationships.

By incorporating validation into your interactions, you can build stronger connections, improve communication, and create a more supportive and loving environment for yourself and those around you.

Why Validation Matters

Validation is a cornerstone of healthy relationships and emotional well-being. By learning to validate ourselves and others, we can create stronger connections, improve communication, and boost our self-esteem.

So, the next time someone shares their feelings with you, remember: listen actively, acknowledge their emotions, and offer support

You might just be surprised at the positive impact a little validation can have.


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