A teenage girl listening to her friend
Imagine you tell somebody, “I’m really scared,” and they look at you and they say, “Oh, you shouldn’t be scared. There’s nothing to be scared of.”
How do you feel?
Now, imagine you’re telling somebody something that happened, and you’re telling them how scared you were and they look at you and they say, “Wow. You were really scared. I got it.”
Can you see the difference in how you felt?
Not validating feelings closes down listening. When you don’t validate somebody’s feelings, they can’t even hear what you’re saying because they’re so stuck in that feeling because it hasn’t been gotten.
A principle about this is re-creation causes erasure. When you create something, you create a feeling.
Somebody re-creates it, they get it. The feeling disappears, which is what happened when somebody said to you, “Wow. You must have really been scared.”
What It Takes To Be Heard
If you want to speak to somebody and you want them to hear you, you have to validate their feelings first so that the feeling goes away, and then they can hear what you have to say.
When you validate somebody’s feelings, they feel seen and heard, and in my experience, that’s what people really want.
We just want to feel seen and heard.
The Benefits Of Validating Feelings
Validating feelings allows people to grow. It allows them to get rid of the feeling and then re-look at the circumstances of the situation and reassess because they’re no longer stuck with that feeling. They have the ability to reassess the situation so they can learn and grow.
It also opens up your conversation to listening, because once the feeling disappears you can now have a conversation to move the situation forward or to see how you could keep it from happening that way next time.
When somebody validates your feelings, it increases a closeness in the relationship because you appreciate that that person got you, and, therefore, you feel closer to them.
What Stops People From Validating Feelings
What gets in the way of people validating feelings are beliefs.
If somebody says something negative to you, or if your child mouths off at you and they get upset or angry and you believe children should be respectful, children shouldn’t speak to parents a certain way, then you’re not going to be able to validate their feelings. You might say, “Don’t you dare speak to me that way.”
A good example of this is when Brittany was young, she would get really angry at me and one day she said, “I hate you,” and if I had said to her, “Don’t you dare speak to me that way,” she’d still have the feeling. She would just have to suppress it, and it doesn’t work well to do that.
So instead I said, “Wow. You must be really angry to feel like you hate me right now. I got it.”
She said, “I don’t hate you. I’m just mad at you.”
I said, “You’re really mad at me, sweetheart. I got it.”
She then said, “Well, I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at your behavior.”
I started to laugh.”I got it, sweetie.”
Then she said, “Mom, I know you didn’t mean it. I just got upset. I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
It was miraculous.
The more I got it, the more the feeling dissipated and dissipated until the feeling disappeared. It was one of the most powerful interactions I had with Brittany.
A Few Big Misconceptions
Sometimes people think that validating feelings means that you agree with what the person is saying, and it doesn’t mean that. Validating feelings just means I get that right now, you feel this way.
The truth is whether you get it or you don’t, someone feels the way they do.
One of my old teachers used to say, “You always have a choice in life. You could either resist the way it is or accept the way it is, but either way, it is the way it is.”
When you’re validating feelings, you’re not agreeing with the person. You’re just getting that’s how they feel.
Some people might think you’re making what they did okay. You’re not doing that either.
A Reason People Often Fail To Validate Feelings
People want you to be positive. They think everything should be positive, so they want to fix it, make it better, make it go away so that you can be happy.
Here’s How To Validate Feelings (And How “Not” To)
Listen from the person’s point of view.
If I were in their shoes, wouldn’t I feel the same way they do?
One of the things you really have to be careful of is not saying, “I got it” like it’s a technique to get what you want from the person. It has to be real. You have to want the other person’s well-being. You have to really want them to feel your empathy and your connection.
Saying the words “I got it” means it is real for me that you feel this way. That’s all it is. It is real for me. I got it.
You’re scared. You’re angry. You’re sad. You wish I wouldn’t do that. I got it.
You hate when I interrupt you. I got it.
After that, apologize or don’t apologize. Change or don’t change. That’s up to you, but before you move forward, validate their feelings.
Thanks for listening and have a great day.