Month: January 2017

Giving and Receiving Validation Improves our Relationships

What is Validation?

Giving and Receiving Improves Validation, Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver COWhy is it important to feel validated? Working as a therapist one often hears “I just want to feel validated”. What does it mean not to feel validated? How does validation not only impact our relationships, but our self-worth as well? Why should we validate others?

Let’s start with a simple explanation of the meaning of validation. It is not that you agree with the other person. It’s not that you don’t share your own point of view. Simply put, validation is when you’ve listened and acknowledged what the other person has to say.

Most people feel better having a difficult or emotionally charged conversation when they feel heard. Just being listened to can feel really good. Without validation, people feel unheard, so they work extra hard to convince you of the importance of their needs. We’ve all experienced at some time or another that feeling of desperation to be heard. We may get loud, pouty, or angry. Our heart rate starts to rise and our ability to hear gets cloudy.

To effectively communicate, you must start with the assumption that both you and the other person have equally valid needs. Most of the time, they are not the same needs, but both needs are valid. No one is wrong and no one is right. It is an equal playing field and is not about winning or losing. It is about being and feeling heard.

 

Validating Others

 

Validation is about finding the piece of truth in another person’s perspective or situation. It is about looking for even a morsel of fact. Validation means that you acknowledge that a person’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors have causes and are therefore understandable. More importantly, validation is not validating something that is invalid, and it does not infer that you are agreeing with the other person. People seem to get tripped up by this the most. The whole idea of being interpersonally effective has nothing to do with giving in and letting someone else be right for the sake of having a peaceful conversation. Again, it is about being heard or showing someone else that they are being heard. Each person is entitled to want and feel what they do. Neither person has more power. You each just have different-yet sensible and legitimate experiences and desires.

 

How can we validate one another?

 

1. The first thing we can do is practice active listening. This starts with just paying attention to what the other person is saying. Look interested, listen, observe. Nod your head, make eye contact. Focus on what the other person may be feeling, experiencing. Sometimes even a slight look of concern or a smile can let the other person know you are there, you are present.

2. Reflect back on what you heard or observed, making sure you actually understood what the other person is saying. Make sure not to be critical or judgmental in your tone. And definitely don’t be sarcastic! It’s important to mention that people often struggle with reflecting back without sounding like they’re just parroting the other person. This can come across as condescending and rude.

3. Try to notice what the other person is feeling or thinking. What does their body language look like? Remember, even if you don’t approve of the other person’s behavior, you can try to see where they’re coming from. Chances are, you know this person enough to get an idea of why their argument makes sense to them.

4. Be sensitive to what the person is not saying. Don’t try to read their mind. Really pay attention to them.

5. Acknowledge the validity of what they are saying. Make it a point to see that the other person’s thoughts, actions or feelings are valid given the current reality and facts.

6. Show that you are equals. Again, you are no better and no worse.

 

Why do we need to validate one another? Why is it so important?

 

It improves our relationships by showing that we care and want our healthy relationships to continue. It evens out the paying field. And surprisingly and more importantly…when we listen and validate, it makes us feel better about ourselves. There is a feeling of maturity and relief that can come with listening without interruption. Letting someone share their thoughts and feelings without the need to butt in can teach us a lot about ourselves and our communication patterns. It teaches us how to be present and promotes the practice of being mindful. It makes us closer and can help heal wounded relationships.

No one likes to feel invalidated because it hurts. It’s a lose lose for both parties. Although it may feel like a win for one, in the long run, it only creates more distance. Successful relationships are those where both partners feel comfortable sharing who they are and what they believe in. When you learn how to validate one another, you can begin to create safety and trust and develop an even deeper kind of intimacy.


 

Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy

 


If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.

 

 

Breaking Free from a Depressed and or Anxious cycle

How do you get things done when you’re feeling depressed, anxious or unmotivated? It’s hard enough for folks who don’t struggle with the depression or anxiety! If you’ve been in counseling before or not, I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve heard someone, maybe even your mom or spouse tell you “Just get up and do something. You’ll feel better”. Yes, this is typically said with good intent, but it doesn’t always help and sometimes, it can even make us feel worse. Most people know that getting up and exercising or doing some chores just DOING ANYTHING will probably make them feel better, but it’s… just..too…hard.

 

There are Solutions

There are tools that can get us back on our feet and out of our rut but it takes will and it takes effort. Let’s talk about what the hardest part of using these tools are first-you know, get it out of the way. So here it goes: you have to be willing to feel some discomfort in order to feel some relief. That’s it.

 

Let me explain

Example: You want to stay in bed because the thought of getting out of bed is so incredibly anxiety provoking that you avoid the anxiety by staying in bed. Your basically relying on your mood to make decisions for you. You’re what is called being “mood dependent”. You rely on your mood for guidance and chances are if you’re depressed your mood is telling you to do the opposite of what you should do.

Your behavior does not need to be guided by your mood. That’s pretty great news if you think about it!  Just because your mind is telling you you’re sad, does not mean that you have to stay sad and engage in activities (or non-activities really) that are contributing to your sadness.

So What Do You Do?

You practice mood independence. This is where the discomfort piece I mentioned earlier comes in. When you don’t want to get out of bed, you can. There is a choice here. You can and should do the opposite of what your crappy mood is telling you to do. That’s the trick. The more you’re  willing to be uncomfortable and do the healthy things you’ve been avoiding, the sooner you’ll pull yourself out of your rut. If you wake up tomorrow and you don’t want to get out of bed but you do, and you do something meaningful, responsible, healthy etc. you WILL feel better. Chances are you’ll have more hope that you’ll be able to do this again the next day and the next day so on and so forth. Some days it won’t be so easy and you’ll want to pull the covers over your head and avoid the day. And that’s okay. This stuff takes work. The idea is a simple one but it is certainly not easy.

 

You Do Not Have to Act According to How You Feel

You can not want to walk the dog and do it anyway. You can laugh with a friend when you’re sad. Your behavior can be totally different than your mood. Eventually your mood follows and gets used to living life with peace and enjoyment again.

 

One More Tool (my favorite) 

Just imagine how you’ll feel after you do the very thing you’re avoiding. Is it worth feeling really uncomfortable if it means you’ll get to feel better? It’s worth a try.


Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy


If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.