Validation: to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of.
Validation is telling someone that you believe that what they say is true for them. Validation isn’t needed to CREATE legitimacy, because the legitimacy os already there. However, it shows that you are listening, that you do not believe yourself to be superior, and that you accept you might not fully understand the experience of another person.
It’s one of the most important roles I serve as a therapist. I listen and then validate that what you are feeling is legitimate. That you have a right to that feeling.
It’s common for us to hear something that causes discomfort or disagreement and to respond by shutting it down, questioning it’s legitimacy, and responding with superiority. “It just can’t possibly be true for you if it isn’t true for me”.
Hearing a different experience of another (especially an experience that is different) and recognizing that it might also be true is the sign of a strong sense of self.
Loving our friends, partners, children, and directing love towards strangers, that when they struggle we are willing to recognize the worthiness and legitimacy of their thoughts, feelings, and experiences even if they are not our own.
With children, we are pushed to hear from where they are. To say, “yes, that sounds so hard” even when our worn out adult bodies want to say “suck it up”.
With our partner, we are pushed to say “you know what, your concern is legitimate. I take responsibility for my part”.
We also have responsibility to legitimize people when they are especially suffering in ways we do not have any experience with.
If a marginalized person – for example, a person of color, a speaker of another language, a woman, someone that identifies as LGBTQ, or some in a body different than yours – describes an experience they’ve had – then you must listen and validate.
Here is how you start:
“It makes so much sense that you feel that way”
How can you push yourself to listen to the experience of others today?
You can contact Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist in Philadelphia, PA. She support individuals to managing challenging relationships and to heal after the loss of breakup. She helps couples build the tools they need to love each other they way the intended.
Elizabeth offers therapy in office and online and also has several home study programs.
For more information click here!