Validation is a term that you may be hearing more often. According to the Oxford English Dictionary VALIDATION means “a strengthening, reinforcement, confirming; an establishing or ratifying.” It’s important to keep in mind two aspects when using validation: 1) Validation means the acknowledgement of that which is valid. It does not mean “making” valid. Nor does it mean validating that which is “invalid”. In short, validation means listening with understanding, and acknowledging that the person speaking is telling their “truth”. The listener only has to acknowledge that they “hear” the person, and understand what they are saying. This does not mean they agree with them, however, validating is about creating space for the person to feel they can be understood. Marsha Linehan says there are six levels to validation, and explains that validation is “as important as the tylenol for a headache”.
Emotional invalidation is the act of dismissing, rejecting or minimizing someone else’s thoughts and feelings. It implies that the other person’s experience is not important, wrong, unacceptable or less than. Often, the person who emotionally invalidates is unaware they are doing so; they genuinely believe they are helping the other person, and do not purposely intend to shame their thoughts and feelings. Common invalidation statements sound like: “it’s not that big of a deal. You need to learn to brush these things off”, “that’s not what happened. You are blowing this out of proportion”, “you are just attention seeking”.
How to validate:
Validation is the secret ingredient in healthy and happy relationships. That’s why sharing this post with other’s to raise awareness to the importance of validation is encouraged ☺
Miller, Alec L., Rathus, Jill H., Linehan, Marsha M., (2007) Dialectical Behaviour Therapy with Suicidal Adolescents, New York.: The Guilford Press.
Written by Tammy Wagner, Registered Social Worker with Wildflowers