Emotional Validation: How to Acknowledge Someone’s Feelings

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A lot of people struggle with how to acknowledge someone’s feelings. When someone opens up to you and shares their feelings, It can be tough to know what to say in a situation like that. Emotional validation is crucial for being a good friend, family member, or partner.

You don’t want to say the wrong thing and make the person feel worse. Many people make the mistake of either ignoring how the person feels or trying to fix the problem. This can actually do more harm than good. This blog post will discuss how to acknowledge someone’s feelings properly and why it is so important!

Emotional Validation: Why Is It Important to Acknowledge Someone’s Feelings?

Emotional Validation: Why Is It Important to Acknowledge Someone's Feelings?

Emotional validation is the process of acknowledging and accepting another person’s emotional experience. Learning, understanding, and respecting another person’s feelings is a key part of healthy communication.

Validating an emotion does not imply that you need to agree with the person’s feelings or believe their feelings are reasonable. Rather, you learn how to understand what they’re going through without attempting to persuade or condemn them.

Why Is It Important?

Many people go through their lives feeling unheard and misunderstood. In order to feel seen and valued, we need emotional validation from the people in our lives. When we don’t get this validation, it can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety.

It’s essential to have people in our lives who can offer us emotional validation. These people can provide support and understanding when going through tough times. They help us feel less alone in our struggles and remind us that we are not crazy or overreacting.

Emotional Invalidation Vs. Emotional Validation

➯Emotional Invalidation 

It is when someone dismisses, discounts, or judges another person’s feelings. It can happen when someone tells you that your feelings are wrong, unreasonable, or unimportant.

Invalidation can also occur when someone tries to fix your problem instead of listening to how you feel. For example, if you’re upset about a situation at work and you tell your partner about it, they might try to give you advice on fixing the problem instead of just listening to how you feel.

➯Emotional Validation

On the other hand, emotional validation is when someone acknowledges and accepts another person’s emotional experience. It includes understanding how the person feels and why they feel that way.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to agree with someone’s feelings to validate them. For example, suppose your partner feels jealous even though you haven’t done anything to warrant that feeling. In that case, you can still validate their emotion by saying something like, “I can see why you would feel that way given the situation.”

Understanding the difference between emotional invalidation and emotional validation is crucial for healthy communication in all relationships.

Who Needs Emotional Validation?

We all need emotional validation from the people in our lives. However, some people benefit from it more than others.

∎People With Trauma Experience

If you have experienced trauma, it’s especially important to have people in your life who can offer emotional validation. It is because trauma can lead to feelings of isolation, shame, and self-doubt.

∎People Who Suffer From Anxiety or Depression 

Anxiety and depression are both characterized by negative thinking patterns. If you suffer from either of these conditions, you might doubt your own emotions and experiences.

In these cases, emotional validation from others can help counter these negative thought patterns. It can remind you that your feelings are valid and that you are not crazy or overreacting.

∎People Who Have Difficult Relationships 

If you have a difficult relationship with someone, emotional validation can be a way to improve communication and build trust.

For example, if you’re arguing with your partner and they take the time to validate how you’re feeling, it can help diffuse the situation and make it easier to find a resolution.

The Right Way to Acknowledge Someone’s Feelings

Emotional validation is a learned skill that takes to master. Mastering it might help you strengthen your interpersonal interactions and validate your own emotions and opinions. Here are a few key strategies to consider:

✔Listen and Respond With Empathy

When someone is sharing their feelings with you, it’s important to really listen. Pay attention to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. If you can, repeat back what you heard them say. It will let them know that you were listening and understand how they feel.

It’s also crucial to respond with empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s emotions. When you respond with empathy, you validate how the other person is feeling. You might say, “That sounds really tough,” or “I can see how that would be confusing and frustrating.”

You also use some body language cues that show you empathize with the person. Nodding your head, making eye contact, and leaning in are all nonverbal cues that communicate empathy.

✔Don’t Try to Fix the Problem

Someone who listens with empathy and doesn’t try to fix the problem is a valuable support system. When we share our feelings with someone, we don’t always want them to try to fix the situation. Often, we just want them to listen and understand what we’re going through.

If you want to offer solutions, take a step back and ask the person if that’s what they need from you. People often just want to be heard and don’t need or want your advice.

✔Avoid Judgement

It’s important to avoid judgment when someone shares their feelings with you. It can be a difficult task because it’s natural to want to offer our opinion on the situation. However, it’s important to remember that the other person’s feelings are valid, even if we don’t agree with their opinion.

If you find yourself getting judgemental, take a step back and try to understand where the other person is coming from. It can be helpful to remind yourself that everyone experiences things differently. Just because you would feel a certain way in a situation doesn’t mean that the other person feels the same way.

✔Acknowledge the Emotion Source

When you’re trying to validate someone’s feelings, it can be helpful to identify the source of the emotion. It helps you understand where the other person is coming from and how their emotions affect them.

For example, if someone feels sad because they lost a loved one, you might say something like, “It sounds like you’re feeling really sad and scared because you lost someone important to you.”

It helps the other person feel seen and understood. It also shows that you’re not just dismissing their feelings as irrational or exaggerated.

✔Accepting Someone’s Feelings

The ability to accept someone’s feelings is an important part of emotional validation. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with how the other person feels, but it does mean that you respect their right to feel that way.

For example, if your friend feels angry about a situation, you might not agree with their anger. However, you can still accept it by saying, “I can see that you’re really angry, and that’s okay.”

It helps the other person feel accepted and allows them to express their feelings without feeling judged.

✔Avoid Non-Validating Responses

Some responses invalidate how the other person is feeling. These responses often make the person feel like their feelings are wrong, irrational, or exaggerated.

Here are a few examples of non-validating responses:

  • “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
  • “It’s not a big deal.”
  • “It’s not that bad.”
  • “Calm down.”
  • “Just relax.”
  • “You’re overreacting.”

Here are also some validation statement starters that can be helpful:

  • “It sounds like you’re feeling…”
  • “I can see how that would make you feel…”
  • “That must be really tough for you.”
  • “I’m sorry that happened.”

If you want to say something like this, take a step back and try to respond with empathy instead.

✔Use Supportive and Encouraging Words

When you’re trying to validate someone’s feelings, the words you use can make a big difference. Using supportive and encouraging words helps the other person feel safe, seen, and understood.

Here are some examples of supportive and encouraging words:

  • “I’m here for you.”
  • “I’m sorry that happened.”
  • “That sounds really tough.”
  • “Do you want to talk about it?”
  • “I’m here to listen.”
  • “Is there anything I can do?”
  • “I’m glad you’re telling me how you feel.”

These words let the other person know that you care about them and are willing to support them.

✔Ask Open-Ended Questions

Asking open-ended questions is a great way to encourage the other person to keep talking. It can help you understand their feelings better and allows them to express how they’re feeling.

Here are some examples of open-ended questions:

  • “How are you feeling about that?”
  • “What’s been the hardest part for you?”
  • “Tell me more about how that made you feel.”
  • “Is there anything else you want to tell me?”

These questions give the other person a chance to share more about their feelings. They also show that you’re interested in hearing what they say.

✔Reflect and Summarize

Reflecting and summarizing what the other person has said is a great way to show that you understand how they feel. It involves restating what the other person has said in your own words.

For example, if someone says, “I’m feeling frustrated because I can’t seem to get this project done,” you might say, “It sounds like you’re feeling frustrated because you’re having a hard time getting the project done.”

It helps the other person feel heard and understood. It also allows them to correct you if you’ve misunderstood how they’re feeling.

These are just a few ways how to validate someone’s feelings. Remember, everyone, experiences things differently. So it’s important to be patient and understanding. If you’re not sure how to respond, just ask the other person what they need from you.

The Impact of Acknowledging Someone’s Feelings 

When you take the time to validate someone’s feelings, it can impact their life. Here are some of the ways that emotional validation can help:

▸Helps Someone to Feel Seen and Understood

One of the most important things we all need is to feel seen and understood. When you validate someone’s feelings, it shows them that you see them and understand how they’re feeling. It can be a compelling experience for someone who feels like they’re always being misunderstood.

▸Allows People to Express Their Feelings

Another meaningful way that emotional validation can help is by allowing people to express their feelings. When you validate someone’s feelings, it shows them that they are valid and essential. It can give them the courage to express their feelings, even if they’re negative.

▸Builds Trust and Strengthens Relationships

Validating someone’s feelings can also help to build trust and strengthen relationships. When you validate someone’s feelings, it shows them that you’re trustworthy and care about their experiences. It can help create a stronger bond between you and the other person.

▸Helps People to Feel Good About Themselves

Lastly, emotional validation can help people to feel good about themselves. When you validate someone’s feelings, you show that you accept them for who they are. It can help boost their self-esteem and make them feel good about themselves.

The Consequences of Invalidating Someone’s Feelings

There are many positive consequences to emotional validation, but there are also negative consequences to invalidating someone’s feelings. Here are some of the ways that invalidating someone’s feelings can impact them:

▸Makes People Feel Worse About Themselves

One of the most common effects of invalidating someone’s feelings is that it makes them feel worse about themselves. When you invalidate someone’s feelings, it shows them that you don’t accept them for who they are. It can lead to low self-esteem and a negative view of oneself.

▸Damages Relationships

Another common effect of invalidating someone’s feelings is that it damages relationships. When you invalidate someone’s feelings, it shows them that you don’t care about their experiences. It can lead to tension and conflict in relationships.

▸Makes People Feel Alone and Isolates Them

Invalidating someone’s feelings can also make them feel alone and isolate them from others. When you invalidate someone’s feelings, it shows them that you’re not there for them. It can make them feel like they have no one to turn to and are all alone in the world.

▸Poor Mental Health

Invalidating someone’s feelings can also have a negative impact on their mental health. When you invalidate someone’s feelings, it shows them that you don’t care about their experiences. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

▸Difficulties in Controlling Emotions

Lastly, invalidating someone’s feelings can also make it difficult for them to control their emotions. When you invalidate someone’s feelings, it shows them that their experiences are not valid. It can lead to out-of-control emotions and a lack of emotional regulation.

Essential Skills to Acknowledge Someone’s Feelings 

If you want to be able to validate someone’s feelings, there are a few essential skills that you’ll need to learn. Here are some of the most critical skills for emotional validation:

👉Listen Without Judgement

One of the essential skills for emotional validation is listening without judgment. When you’re listening to someone, it’s important to be open-minded and non-judgemental. You should avoid making assumptions about what the person is saying or how they’re feeling.

👉Communicate Clearly

Knowing how to communicate clearly is another essential skill for emotional validation. When communicating with someone, it’s essential to be clear and concise. You should avoid using vague language or speaking in a roundabout way.

👉Respect Boundaries 

What do you mean by boundaries? Boundaries are the limits that you set in relationships. When interacting with someone, it’s important to respect their boundaries. You should avoid crossing their boundaries or pushing them beyond their limits.

👉Accept Yourself 

Lastly, it’s important to be able to accept yourself before you can accept someone else. When you’re accepting yourself, you’re acknowledging your own experiences and feelings. It includes both the positive and negative aspects of your life. Once you’ve learned how to accept yourself, you’ll be better positioned to accept someone else.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I tell if I’m invalidating someone’s feelings? 

If you’re not sure whether or not you’re invalidating someone’s feelings, there are a few signs to look out for. One sign is if you regularly dismiss, discount, or minimize the person’s experiences. Another sign is if you regularly tell the person that their feelings are wrong, irrational, or exaggerated. If you notice any of these signs in your own behavior, it’s a good idea to start working on being more emotionally validating.

Q: Why do people seek emotional validation?

People often seek emotional validation to feel validated and understood by others. It can be especially important in close relationships, such as family members or romantic partners. We often want those closest to us to understand how we’re feeling and why we’re feeling that way.

Validation can also come from outside of our close relationships. Sometimes we turn to strangers for validation, seeking reassurance from them that our emotions are valid and warranted. In other cases, we might look to authority figures or experts to validate our beliefs or feelings.

Ultimately, though, most people just want to feel understood and know that their emotions matter to someone else. For example, we might seek validation from a therapist, counselor, or other mental health professional. We might also seek validation from strangers or acquaintances.

Q: What are the benefits of emotional validation?

Some of the benefits of emotional validation include improved communication, stronger relationships, and better mental health. When you’re able to validate someone’s feelings, it can help to improve communication and understanding between you. It can lead to stronger, more supportive relationships.

Additionally, validation has been linked with better mental health outcomes. For example, one study found that emotional validation was associated with reduced anxiety and depression symptoms.

Q: When emotional validation fails, what can you do?

Don’t despair! Validation can come from many sources, not just the people around us. Here are some things to try when emotional validation fails:

Seek Out Other Forms of Validation

Maybe your friends or family aren’t getting it, but that doesn’t mean nobody will. Try looking for support groups or counseling services in your area. These people are trained to listen and validate your feelings, so they can be a great source of emotional support.

Find Other Outlets for Your Emotions

Sometimes writing or journaling can be really therapeutic. It’s a chance to put all your thoughts and feelings down on paper (or screen) and get them out of your head for a while. You might also find relief by talking to a pet, going for a walk in nature, or listening to calming music.

Self-validation is also essential. Remember that you are the expert on your own experiences and feelings. So if nobody else is getting it, at least you can give yourself the validation you need.

Q: How can I be more emotionally validating?

If you want to be more emotionally validating, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Make an effort to really listen to the person when they’re talking to you. Try to understand how they’re feeling and what might be causing those feelings.
  2. Avoid dismissing, discounting, or invalidating the person’s experiences.
  3. Be supportive and understanding, even if you don’t agree with how the person is feeling.
  4. Try to communicate that you understand and care about what the person is going through.

Final Thoughts 

In order to have a meaningful connection, validation is critical. Emotional validation can be tricky, but it’s worth striving for. With practice, you can get better at it. And even if you don’t always get it right, the effort itself can make a big difference to acknowledge someone’s feelings.

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