The emotional validation is a process of learning, understanding, and expression of acceptance of the emotional experience of another individual or self ( emotional self – validation ). The opposite of emotional validation is “emotional invalidation,” which refers to the rejection, ignorance or judgment of another person’s emotional experience.
Emotion validation improves interpersonal relationships because the other person feels understood, recognized, and favors the increase of verbalization of what the other thinks and feels because he feels heard. This causes an increase in trust between the two and establishes the basis for creating a good relationship.
Acceptance, empathy, and expression of emotional validation
The acceptance is an option that is presented to resolving conflicts, especially in interpersonal relationships. As part of this, emotional validation is a way of communicating acceptance to others (or to ourselves), but it does not mean that we agree or that we share the thoughts of the other person. To validate is to accept and validate what another person is feeling whether or not we agree with their point of view or their feelings. Therefore, emotional validation is empathy and acceptance towards another individual.
On the other hand, although it is usual to judge or criticize what other people think if we do not agree with them, in many cases we do not show that we disagree. This is not emotional validation since emotional validation offers opportunities for emotional expression. The validation is not only to accept the emotions, but this acceptance must be communicated to the other person.
Tips to improve emotional validation
Learning to validate emotions correctly may require practice. To validate an emotion is to make explicit the emotion that we think the person has (for example, does this make you feel …? ) And implies that the other person feels understood, valued and accepted. Here are some tips to improve emotional validation.
1. Be present
There are many ways to be present, but in the world we live in, we are not always present. Being in mindfulness (or full consciousness) is the first step to emotional validation. Some strategies to achieve this are: take the person who speaks to us and attend to what he says, or use active listening. Mindfulness training can be useful to learn to be in the present moment.
2. Listen and reflect
The objective reflection refers to conduct an objective summary of what the other person has told you. But not any summary is valid, but after active listening (paying attention to their reactions and emotions), reflection allows you to learn and understand more profoundly when viewing situations from different lenses. Challenging questions will even help you question your own beliefs about the world. But to make an objective reflection, it is necessary to have knowledge about Emotional Intelligence, since it can help you to understand, label and regulate emotions, and to separate the latter from thoughts and cultural impositions.
3. Understand the reaction of other people
Many times we get carried away by the intensity of emotions and do not stop to think about the cause of the reaction of other people. It is basic to understand what the other may be feeling or thinking. The ability of each individual with respect to emotional intelligence is different, but it can be learned. Although we can not read the mind, we can try to find out what has led the other person to act that way. To understand another person’s reaction you can encourage them to speak through carefully selected questions, and expressions that let them know that you understand how they are feeling and that you are willing to listen to them talk about it. For example, “I think you’ve been offended by the comment I just made.”
4. Understand the situation
It is important to have knowledge about the culture and context of the other. Therefore, reading emotions implies that with few elements you can formulate a hypothesis about their emotional reaction. This hypothesis must be communicated to the other person so that he can express to us if we are right. For example, with a person who has been bitten by a dog, we could say “because of what happened to you with a dog a few years ago, I understand that you do not want my dog to get close to you”.
5. Normalize emotions
Understanding emotional reactions as something normal helps everyone. For an emotionally sensitive person to know that most people can feel the same in the same situation is beneficial. For example, “I understand that you may be anxious or nervous. Speaking to the public can be a difficult situation the first time. ”
6. Have an open mind to the emotional experience of the other
Acceptance and an open mind towards the emotional experience of the other will be positive for any interpersonal relationship. Regardless of the emotion that the other person is feeling, it is their emotion and you have to respect it. It is important to make room for all emotions, and all have a meaning.