Emotional Validation as a tool to improve Relationship

Emotional Validation as a tool to improve Relationship


Emotional Validation is an approach where a person can understand and accept another person’s feelings. When somebody gets emotional validation they get the freedom to experience and express their emotions. 

Studies have found that lack of an appropriate amount of emotional validation in childhood can increase the chance of mental health issues in adulthood like lack of emotional regulation, anxiety, distress and depression. Invalidating a person is like ignoring them and this can affect a person’s confidence and self-esteem. Some people might tend to exaggerate the situation but whatever it be don’t make them feel shameful and insecure about their feelings. Everybody is different and some people depend on external validation to build self-worth. 

According to Assistant Professor, Dr. Manisha Dhami, “The validation we provide to our children is crucial. In the context of Indian society, validation often has a negative connotation, and emotional validation is frequently lacking. We need to focus on positive validation, but it’s important to clarify that validation should not act as a form of public pleasing. For instance, if a child is not willing to perform a certain act but is compelled to do so, they may develop a tendency to seek validation as a means to please others. This can lead to underconfidence and the belief that public approval is essential for their actions. Later in life, such children might struggle with self-assurance and rely heavily on external validation.”

She further states, “On the other hand, positive validation in the right context is crucial. If a child is feeling low or upset, it is important to acknowledge and reassure them that it’s okay to have such feelings. This type of emotional validation helps children learn to identify their emotions and subsequently, regulate them as part of developing emotional intelligence. So, when a child is upset or feeling low, we should communicate that it’s perfectly normal to feel that way. This positive emotional validation is key, especially in a cultural context where negative validation is more common. By reinforcing the idea that acknowledging a child’s emotions positively is beneficial, we help them build a healthier emotional framework.”

Dialectical behaviour therapy and validation

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is an effective therapy for people who feel emotions very intensely.  This is a form of talk therapy where emotional validation is important. Here the therapist allows the client to experience their emotions without any judgment. DBT also teaches the client that positive changes are necessary for emotional regulation and healing. DBT can improve your mindfulness, and distress tolerance and develop interpersonal skills in a person. 

Steps to Emotional Validation

  1. Understand yourself: To learn the art of emotional validation, you should first understand yourself and come to terms with your feelings. Practice self-compassion, build self-worth and learn to process your emotions rather than suppressing them within yourself. 
  2. Be an active listener: Hearing is not enough, listen to the people who are talking to you. This person came to you because they believe that you are ready to lend them your ears. An active listener is capable of listening to information without getting distracted. You can nod your head, mirror the person, give eye contact, provide appropriate facial expressions and ask appropriate questions to make the other person feel that they are heard.
  3. Don’t interrupt: When a person is expressing their emotions through a story or situation you should never talk too much in between. Asking valid questions to gain clarity is important but never advice or start giving solutions to them without listening to the complete tale. 
  4. Learn to be silent: Silence is one of the best ways to respond to an emotional situation so be comfortable in silence. Silence will allow the person to process emotions better, it gives them time to navigate their thoughts. 
  5. Support them: Once you have listened to the complete problem you will be able to identify the emotions they are going through and the root cause as well. Now start validating them by giving in statements that show empathy and acceptance.

Statements that can show emotional validation:

“ I can understand you”

“ That must have been really painful”

“ You have the right to be upset”

“ I’m so sorry that it happened to you”

“ I’m here to listen to you”

“ I’m here to support you”

“ That sounds challenging”

 Sometimes the issue might seem unacceptable to you and in this case, you can just acknowledge their feelings by being non-judgmental. You can also reflect on their thoughts rather than give your opinion. Please don’t compare or give unsolicited advice as this can affect the flow of emotions. This way you can build a space where the other person feels safe to be themselves. This can improve the quality of the relationship between the person facing a rough patch and the listener. 

Ask for it 

Don’t hesitate to ask for emotional validation. The only thing to keep in mind is to ask the right people. Some people don’t have an idea about how to do this and that is normal. If you know what you want you can always tell them what you want, and ask them for it. A pat on the shoulder or a warm hug are also beautiful ways of expressing emotional validation. There is nothing wrong in asking for validation as it’s a natural human need. Reciprocity can also work here so don’t forget to validate others to get validated. Don’t expect your rude boss to validate your performance, this might not happen and you might feel miserable.

No pressure 

Emotional validation cannot be learned in a day but like any other skill, interest and practice can improve your ability to validate a person. We are all dealing with human beings so things may seem a little different when you come across somebody who is having a bad time. Some might end up in tears, others might not be ready to talk. Don’t put pressure on yourself, just be there for the person and be conscious about your response. 

According to Clinical Psychologist and Assistant professor, Dr Sonia Kapur, “Emotional validation is very important because every individual wants to feel that someone acknowledges and understands their emotions. Recognizing that emotions are natural and reasonable is crucial. When we share our feelings and others understand and validate them, it fosters a sense of positivity and reassurance. This validation helps us realize that our feelings are not unusual or negative, and it encourages us to share and seek support.”

She adds “Empathy also plays a significant role in this process, as it helps develop social support networks. Emotional validation is essential for psychological well-being. When dealing with psychological issues, negative emotions such as isolation or jealousy can arise. If these emotions are not shared and validated, they can potentially lead to psychological disorders. Expressing these emotions to someone who is empathetic and understanding provides relaxation and relief for both parties involved. This practice enhances psychological well-being. Thus, emotional validation is a vital aspect of sharing and improving psychological health.”

Emotional validation is an important tool to build and keep relationships. You can use this tool in every relationship to build strong bonds. Personal disclosure is very important in forming relationships and if you start getting emotional validation from a certain person then you are going to speak a lot about your thoughts, feelings and beliefs later. This means that this person has already gained access to your close circle. One way to stay away from mental health issues is by having a good social circle and if people are there to push you when you fall then you will soon lose the fear of falling.

References +
  • Сalmerry. (2023, April 17). What is emotional validation? and how to practice it. Calmerry –. https://calmerry.com/blog/emotions/the-power-of-emotional-validation-why-we-need-it-and-how-to-practice-it/
  • Salters-Pedneault, K., PhD. (2022, November 14). What is emotional validation? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-emotional-validation-425336
  • Beltrani, A. (2023, April 11). Validation in DBT. CONCEPT Professional Training. https://concept.paloaltou.edu/resources/business-of-practice-blog/validation-in-dbt?hs_amp=true
  • Emotional validation. (2024, January 24). Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/emotional-validation
  • Wikipedia contributors. (2024, April 15). Emotional validation. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_validation
  • PsyD, L. G. (2024, May 10). 4 ways to Validate someone’s feelings – WikiHow. wikiHow. https://www.wikihow.com/Validate-Someone%27s-Feelings
  • https://blog-smilingmind-com-au.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/blog.smilingmind.com.au/the-art-of-emotional-validation?amp_gsa=1&amp_js_v=a9&hs_amp=true&usqp=mq331AQIUAKwASCAAgM%3D#amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&aoh=17162013916607&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fblog.smilingmind.com.au%2Fthe-art-of-emotional-validation

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