Category: Family

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.

 

 

Families and Addiction

 

Help for Families and Individuals of Those Struggling with Addiction

I’m going to share a snippet of something I wrote for my website before I decided to change my website completely (it’s a long story). I have worked in addiction treatment for quite some time and have had the opportunity to speak with many worried mothers, wives, husbands, fathers, children you name it. They are undoubtedly panicked, terrified and sometimes pretty clueless about what it is they are supposed to do-and rightfully so. Unfortunately, there is no detailed manuscript for what to do with an addicted loved one, but there is PLENTY of useful material for families, family education programs, support groups and therapists out there that can help get you through such difficult times.

Every time I speak with families I have to remind myself of the pain and fear they are experiencing as a result of the unknown, sometimes fatal disease of addiction. I admit, it can be frustrating when you don’t have all the answers and you can’t explain why their loved one just won’t be “cured”. Parents, especially, can not understand what the hell is going through their kids minds. Why is their desire to get sober not as urgent as everyone else in their life believes it is?!!  Unfortunately, this is not how it works.

As a therapist who has struggled with addiction myself, I know how badly your family wants to see you get better. And I so wish that was all it took. I remember my sponsor 10 years ago telling me “you’re mom would take a bullet for you if it meant you’d get better”. That was one of the harder things to hear, but it was true.

Steps to Take for Yourself

I can tell you now, as a successful, happy and sober therapist, sobriety for your loved one can happen, but most of it, a lot of it actually, is in their hands. Most recovering individuals will tell you that looking back, it was their most excruciating feelings and experiences that made them finally willing to seek help and most importantly want sobriety.  So what do you do in the meantime?

Well first of all I want to make it very clear that you can wholeheartedly love your child and hate their addiction at the same time. They are two very different things. Some addicted individuals need super tough tough love-you know no money, no car, no place to come home and do laundry. Others need a different kind of support. Where are they in their recovery process? Do they want to get sober? Are they just kind of struggling? Will they need inpatient? A therapist can help you navigate your way through some of these unknown and presumably obsessive questions that you’ve had running through your mind over and over again.

Self Care

I can not stress enough how it important it is to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF through this process. You will be in a much better position to make rational decisions and will in turn feel good about not neglecting your own needs. You see, when you neglect your own life, AKA are codependent and or an enabler, you are helping no one. So, take a look at the information I provided below and see if it may be beneficial for you to seek some guidance. Anything helps!

Here we go-

It may be time to seek help when:

You feel ashamed of talking about the addiction and and don’t know who to talk to

You’re scared of the substance user finding out and acting out

Your family member continues to use despite your concerns

You’ve experienced family issues that you believe may have contributed to the addiction

Your physical, mental and spiritual health have been compromised

The effects of addiction aren’t limited to the substance abuser. If someone’s addiction has negatively impacted your life, it may be time to seek help. By engaging in treatment focused on the family, you can make a difference in the life of the addict while improving your own well-being. Studies show that family therapy predicts higher levels of success, greater engagement and increased continuing care participation.

Benefits of family therapy include:

Helping addict seek assistance for their own problem

Helping families understand enabling behaviors vs. supportive behaviors

Increased sense of personal serenity

Addressing codependent behavior that may be hindering recovery

Learning how to practice self care when feeling powerless over actions of addict

Assisting the substance abuser to gain awareness of their own needs and behaviors

Supporting yourself and your loved ones through the recovery process

It’s important to understand that therapy can provide support for family members but also improve their loved one’s health as well. Recovery for everyone is possible. I’ve seen it happen many times. It may not work the first time, but the possibility of being free from the storm of addiction can happen. It can difficult to ask for help, but it definitely can’t hurt.


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.