Before we dive into examples of validating statements, I am going to expand your understanding of validation and how it is a great way to build emotional connection and allow someone to express emotional experiences. It will also be beneficial to know what invalidating statements sound like so you can avoid using them with a friend or family member. This skill is going to be gold in all of your relationships, increasing connection. I don’t want more connection– Said no one. Ever.
Imagine a time…
Can you think of a difficult experience you have had in your life? I’m wondering if you recall telling someone about that difficult experience? A safe space where you could share your own thoughts and your own emotions and experienced genuine care. If you had that past experience, the other person was likely practicing validation. If you remember feeling misunderstood or wished you hadn’t shared anything at all (we have all been there), then it is likely felt invalidated. Maybe unsolicited advice or judgemental statements were made.
Validation is identifying and accepting another’s thoughts, feelings as understandable. This doesn’t mean we necessarily agree, but we find pieces of that person’s experience that make sense to us and we affirm them. We offer unconditional regard or acceptance of the other person’s viewpoint.
When we have a loved one sharing a difficult moment with us we have an opportunity to come alongside, offer empathy and validation. I urge you to take advantage of that opportunity. Not only will you help them through their challenges, you will be modeling an incredibly valuable tool for connected relationships.
Impact of Validation
Validating someone in the midst of the diffuclt situation with which they are faced goes a long way in your relationship with them. It is quite possibly the best way toward emotional connection. Simply listening to another person’s feelings and offering understanding of their point of view is a big deal. Relationships have stronger emotional connection which leads to feelings of love and belonging. These two experiences are part of the purpose for which we are created. When we feel unacceptable or as though we don’t belong, shame becomes the experience. When a person experiences shame they are more likely to withdraw from relationship instead of engage in it. Shame causes psychological distress and mental health will be negatively affected as a result.
It is also worth noting that if we treat others how we want to be treated, validation is what you would desire in a frustrating or hurtful situation.
Impact of Emotional Invalidation
First, I want you to understand what invalidation is, then we will talk more about how it is demonstrated. Invalidation in a relationship means to dismiss, misunderstand or minimize someone’s experience. Emotional invalidation is when someone’s feelings are denied, rejected, or dismissed. When someone feel as though their emotional experience is wrong they feel rejected. And they may feel that their emotions are unacceptable, insignificant, or inaccurate. This experience leads to feelings of shame. Once again, shame leads to disconnection from relationships. The bottom line is this- if someone I care about consistently invalidates my feelings and experience, I will stop sharing my feelings and experiences.
When we are listening to someone share a difficult situation, DON’T do these 3 things:
- Don’t make judgmental statements. Nothing screams invalidation better than judgy statements. People don’t want to hear your assessment of the facts, they want to feel understood.
- Don’t offer unsolicited advice. People are complex and our situations are complex. When we respond with a solution, we are simplifying what is actually not simple. We are also implying they we know better. We are not seeking to understand their perspective.
- Don’t invalidate their feelings. This quite literally means, don’t tell them they should or shouldn’t feel any kind of way. We all experience intense emotions at times, experiencing a range of emotions is normal in difficult situations. Avoiding these 3 responses will greatly reduce communication issues.
7 Examples of Invalidating Statements
- Well, life isn’t fair.
- You shouldn’t feel (sad, upset, frustrated)…
- You are too (sensitive, dramatic, etc.)…
- You always get yourself into these situations
- Oh, you think you had it bad. (making it all about your experience)
- What you really should have done is…
- That was dumb (or any other evaluative statement)
Let’s talk about some of the important validation skills you will want to practice when the opportunity to validate someone you love comes up. The first step is to engage in active listening. This means, put down your phone, make eye contact and give your undivided attention to your person. Additionally, turn toward them as you listen to their point of view. Body language is just as important as verbal language. While this sounds like a basic communication skill it is powerful to convey, I am here for you and I care about you.
Let’s talk about some of the validation techniques you can begin to practice. First, ask clarifying questions. This implies you are seeking to understand. It also will help you gather important information such as the feelings and the circumstances that led to those feelings. This will help you when you practice emotional validation.
Another validation technique is paraphrasing what is being said. This means as they talk you summarize what they are saying to show you are tracking them, you are understanding the situation from their perspective. As you give an accurate reflection of their experience and feelings, feeling accepted and cared for will come naturally.
Sometimes it is helpful to share your own experience in similar situations. Be careful not to turn the talk to being all about you. Sharing a similar experience is a way that you can express you understand their experience and feelings. This can help them feel understood and validated as long as you are careful not to take over the experience. It’s often a logical connector to their own experience.
Emotional Validation in 3 Simple Steps
- Listen for the strong emotions. In other words, as they share their experience and emotions, be listening for feeling words. They might not use feeling words, but you can be certain that they are having feelings about whatever experience they are sharing about. Offer feeling words as you imagine how they might have felt.
- Seek to understand the situation that led to the strong emotions. This is where asking clarifying questions or accurately reflecting back what you are hearing is helpful.
- Offer validation (examples of validating statements below). You can do this through sharing a time when you were in a similar circumstance to convey understanding. Can you still validate someone without agreeing with them? YES! When we disagree with someone, we tend to invalidate them. However, you can still validate how someone came to the emotions and conclusions they came too and not necessarily agree. Validation is always possible! You can also validate parts of what they are saying without validating everything. Don’t get stuck on the facts of the situation- focus on the feelings- validation comes more naturally that way.
Check out the following questions and statements to help you validate someone you love and experience a deeper connection as a result!
Examples of Validating Statements and Questions
- That makes sense to me.
- You are between a rock and a hard place.
- You must feel so….
- That would make me feel…
- I wish you didn’t have to go through that.
- What a horrible feeling that must be.
- I can see why you would be frustrated.
- What did you want to see happen?
- Tell me what you’re most concerned about.
- I think you are being very clear- go on.
- Help me understand your feelings. Say more.
- What are you most concerned about.
- What would you like to see happen next time?
- Let me summarize what you’re thinking.
- Let me summarize what you’re feeling.
- I wish I could have been there with you.
- Oh my gosh- that sounds terrible.
- It sounds like you are feeling so trapped.
- No wonder you are upset.
- That would make me feel anxious, too.
- What a frustrating situation to be in.
- Thank you for sharing this with me.
- This must have been hard to open up about.
- Is there any way I can help?
- I can totally understand why you felt that way.
- It makes sense that you responded the way you did.
- Tell me more about what happened.
- I would have felt the same way.
- I’m so sorry you are going through that.
- You have every right to feel that way.
- That must have been hard for you.
- What a challenging experience to go through.
- That must feel really discouraging.
- What am I not getting.
- I know exactly what you mean.
- I know how much that meant to you.
- I can see how hard you are working.
- How long have you been feeling this way?
- I hear what you are saying.
- You must have felt so betrayed.
- I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you.
- It sounds like you felt blind-sided.
- Can I ask some questions?
- I get it.
- I see your point.
- You didn’t deserve that.
- This wasn’t your fault.
- I can see your effort.
- That must be very hard to deal with.
- It sounds like you did your best.
Wrapping up Examples of Validating Statements
Are you excited to practice this new skill? We are made for love and belonging- validating a person’s emotions is a powerful way to build emotional connection. It’s a good idea to not only understand how to demonstrate unconditional regard, but also what invalidation looks like so you can avoid it. This is a great way to reconnect after a busy day or long time has passed since your last connection. Validating statements can be used on big things and little things. Write down a few of the examples of validating statements and insert those next time you are listening to someone’s experience. I can’t wait to hear how this new communication skill deepens your relationships. Add your own validation statements in the comments below!
You may also like: 50 Self Awareness Journal Prompts (free download!)