Validation and Empathy – Two Powerful Relationship Tools


No, doubt, validation are among the cornerstones of love. In relationships, validating each other’s feelings is one of the most important ingredients for lasting relationships of any kind. Unless we take on board how someone is feeling and try to empathize, building lasting trust and a strong bond is going to be difficult.

This is particularly true in conflict situations. People at loggerheads may not feel like empathizing with the other person or indeed validate their counterpart’s emotions. Nonetheless, if conflict resolution is what you are seeking, both empathy and validation will go a long way toward bringing conflicting sides together.

Empathy for Others

Don’t mistake empathy for some sort of mushy feeling you produce when someone is suffering. It’s much more than that. When you empathize, you try to grasp what your counterpart is experiencing, lovingly and intelligently. When you do, you open your heart and make a commitment to the other person. You care. It’s as simple as that. Though we may not always feel like empathizing, as human beings, it’s in our own interest to care. When we do, we build stronger relationships and stand a better chance of resolving problems.

Equally, when we get a sense that someone tries to truly understand what we are going through, we feel less alone and get a sense of being supported.


What About Validation?

You validate someone’s feelings when you take them on board. Let’s say your friend hates the fact that you are always late. Personally, you don’t think it’s a big deal but somewhere in the back of your mind, you know that your friend can’t stand you being late every time you arrange to meet. If you don’t validate your friend’s feelings on the issue, the friendship will sooner or later begin to deteriorate. But if you take on board how your friend is feeling and try to empathise, you will come to understand that your behaviour is threatening the friendship. Hopefully, you’ll try a little harder to turn up in time the next time.

Validation is a three-step process: acknowledging the feelings, empathising, expressing validation. So you openly acknowledge your counterpart’s feelings, empathise, and tell your counterpart that you are trying to understand where she/he is coming from.

Validation is a two-way street, though. When you validate, you can also seek validation of your own feelings. In this case, your friend needs to understand and take on board, that time-keeping isn’t a priority for you and that you aren’t trying to cause hurt. So while it is important to validate other people’s feelings, it’s also crucial to seek validation for your own emotions.

The above example is rather trivial, and most conflict situations are far more serious. The principle remains the same.

Validating Your Own Emotions

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we sometimes forget to validate our own feelings. Instead, we suppress them and run the risk of an eventual outburst. Emotions rarely disappear which makes it even more important to acknowledge your own feelings, validate, and express them. If you do, the people you are dealing with will appreciate your candour and know precisely where they stand.


Validating Feelings – A True Relationship Gift

Whatever the relationship, be at a family relationship, marriage, friendship, or a parent-child relationship, mutual validation can work wonders. In the process, you put your own point of view aside, even just for a brief moment. You openly acknowledge what the other person is going true and take a step towards her/him. This small step just takes a little thought and effort, will, however, provide a great source of support for your counterpart.

By the same token, when you receive validation, your anger, sadness or frustration are likely to dissipate a little. In the validation process, edges are smoothened and the sting goes out of a conflict situation.

Self Validation

When you validate your own emotions, you begin a healing process if hurt lies at the heart of your feelings. You can then begin to tackle the issue and begin your recovery.

Share Your Thoughts on Validation and Empathy

What are your thoughts on validation and empathy? Please share your insights in the comment box below.

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