When someone tells us about a problem in their life, we tend to move into “fix-it” mode. We try to help them feel better, offer advice, suggest they google it, or even downplay their situation. But, this doesn’t always go well. Sometimes there isn’t a simple answer, especially because some things can’t be solved easily, or perhaps solved at all. Often what people need is to feel seen and understood in their struggle – to be validated. Validation is a powerful and effective communication tool that we can use to help ourselves and others cope with challenges. When we offer validation, we notice and acknowledge that someone’s feelings and thoughts are real and important to them. We listen without fixing, problem-solving, or minimizing their experience or how they feel.
In today’s Wellness Wednesday, we learn ways to validate others.
As a class, group, or family:
· Talk about validation. Validation is when we notice and acknowledge that someone’s feelings and thoughts are real and important to them. We listen without fixing, problem-solving, or minimizing their experience or how they feel. Validating someone doesn't necessarily mean that we agree with them. It means that we recognize and understand their emotions.
· Try saying some of these validating statements:
o “Seems like you’re overwhelmed. Tell me more.”
o “Wow, I’d be disappointed too if I lost something that was special to me.”
o “You studied a lot for that test. It is upsetting not to get the grade you hoped for.”
o “You miss your friends in the other class. It’s really tough to not see them more.”
o “That sounds difficult. I can tell it was a hard day.”
o "It felt really bad to not be included today.”
o “It makes sense to me that you feel sad about the end of your soccer season.”
o “You felt disappointed when it was time to clean up. You were having fun.”
o “It makes sense why you feel angry that your project broke. I get that.”
o "That must be really hard. I bet you’re frustrated."
· Discuss how you think you would feel if someone responded to you this way. Brainstorm some more ways to validate others.
Ask yourself, there is no wrong answer:
What is one way I can validate someone else?
What words help me feel supported by others?
When I am upset, how do I feel when someone validates me?
Connecting to our faith:
“Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding.” (Proverbs 2:2)
“Instead of offering an opinion or advice, we need to be sure that we have heard everything the other person has to say. ... Often the other spouse does not need a solution to his or her problems, but simply to be heard, to feel that someone has acknowledged their pain, their disappointment, their fear, their anger, their hopes and their dreams." (Pope Francis)
· ADULT BOOK: "The Power of Validation" by Dr Karyn D. Hall and Melissa Cook
· CHILDREN’S BOOK: “The Rabbit Listened” by Cori Doerrfeld
· READ ALOUD VIDEO: "The Rabbit Listened" https://youtu.be/rHPoj53dy8o
· EDUCATOR ARTICLE: "How To Listen with Compassion in the Classroom" https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_listen_with_compassion_in_the_classroom
· ARTICLE: Listening to Understand, Not To Judge www.mentalhealthweek.ca/dont-listen-to-judge-listen-to-understand/