Emotional validation and why do we need it? That’s a good question! Do most of us even know what emotional validation means?
Let’s talk about it in this post. I want to discuss what emotional validation means and if we are getting it from the people closest to us.
***Disclosure -Some links in this post may contain
affiliate links and I may receive a small commission
(at no extra cost to you)if you make a purchase after
clicking on a link. To view full disclosure click the
Privacy/Policy tab at the top of the page. ***
What is Emotional Validation?
Emotional validation is when other people acknowledge our feelings. Even if the other person does not agree with our feelings, they acknowledge how we feel and accept our feelings.
We all need to feel accepted, especially when it comes to how we feel about things.
An article on VeryWellMind.com describes emotional validation as a process. The article describes emotional validation as a process in which one person learns about, understands, and expresses acceptance of another person’s emotional experience.
Why Do We Need Emotional Validation?
In another article from VeryWellMind.com, it discusses emotional invalidation. This is when someone tells you or relates to you, that your feelings are not valid.
Someone may react to you as if your feelings are invalid, irrational, or unreasonable. They may even suggest that your feelings should be hidden or concealed. Conveying that you are possibly over-reacting, or being a “drama-queen”.
This can especially happen by parents with their children. Have you ever overheard, or even been the parent that told the child “Don’t be such a baby! There is nothing to be scared of!”? That is emotionally invalidating the child’s emotion of fear.
At that moment, the child cannot help feeling fear for whatever reason. The parent would help the child much more by asking what is causing the fear and addressing it with them. Calm the fear and explain it to them so they do not feel the same fear the next time they are in that situation.
Simply validate their emotions and help them understand their emotions. No one has the right to tell you how to feel, not even when you are a child.
Must Our Emotions Always Be Validated?
Am I saying that our emotions must always be validated by others for us to remain emotionally healthy? No, not at all!
Sometimes, even as children, we must face times when our emotions are not validated in order for us to learn how to cope with and manage emotions.
However, when our feelings aren’t validated it also helps if the other person explains their reasoning behind the invalidation.
Especially with children, their parents should explain why their emotions seem unreasonable for the situation. The parent should help the child learn to manage their emotions and cope with their feelings.
Emotionally Invalidating Environments
Living in an emotionally invalidating environment can be staggering in many ways. This type of environment is any type of situation involving people that react to your emotions in inappropriate or inconsistent manners.
I would like to refer to yet one more article from VeryWellMind in which it talks about living in an emotionally invalidating environment is basically where you are being told your expression of emotion or feeling is “wrong”.
In this environment the person invalidating your emotions will usually ignore, deny, intentionally misinterpret, judge, or criticize your feelings. Thus causing you to mistrust your own feelings.
This is especially true with children growing up in an emotionally invalidating environment. The child grows up to believe his/her emotions are incorrect. They learn not to trust their own emotions and perhaps to not even consider them.
My Personal Experiences
Looking back through my past there was one major period in my life when my emotions were not being validated. My children and I ended up living in an emotionally invalidating environment when I married my second husband.
Shortly after we married I realized he truly was an alcoholic and that I had placed myself and my children in an emotionally abusive situation.
Within the first year of our marriage, I lost my mother to colon cancer, which only added stress, tension, and a diagnosis of depression to my life. Two weeks after my mother passed away, my then-husband came home to find me crying. The words that he yelled at me were; “For Christ’s sake shut up your damn crying! Your mom is dead, she’s gone, so get the hell over it!” And of course, my kids overheard this.
I began working to never let him see me cry after that. And I worked twice as hard to help my kids work through their emotions whenever he was not around.
My oldest daughter and my son seemed to just shut off their emotions and not ever express their feelings. Which was bad in it’s own way. Sometimes even now I worry if my son allows himself to feel his emotions.
However, my youngest daughter has always been so much like my mother, was and still is such a loving and compassionate soul. She loves and cares so deeply for everyone, that her emotions show easily. Which was never a bad thing.
My then-husband tended to seek her out to make her get emotional as if he wanted to yell at her to “suck it up” and stop being a “drama queen”. This made me furious. It caused arguments between me and him. I felt as if I was constantly running interference and that the kids and I were tip-toeing through a minefield all the time.
When she and I talk about the past, she tells me she felt most of her feelings were validated. She also said that when they weren’t she does feel that she was being an overly dramatic kid. I’m not sure that I agree about her always being overly dramatic. I think she was being picked on by an emotionally immature adult. But we’ll leave that subject for another post in the future. 🙂
Fortunately, my children and I survived until I could safely get us out of the marriage and environment. I have to admit there was some emotional damage leftover to all of us. But I’m very proud to say that all three of my children are happy and productive adults today, in spite of a few bad decisions on my part during their childhood.
Communicating acceptance through emotional validation is helpful to others. It is a way of supporting and encouraging friends, family and co-workers.
An article from Psychology Today talks about how Validation is a Way to Communicate Acceptance. It explains that validation does not mean that you have to agree with the other person’s feelings or even their decisions, but that you simply acknowledge them as reasonable.
When a best friend or family member makes a decision that you don’t think is wise, you don’t have to agree with the decision. However you can validate their feelings and choices by supporting their decision without agreeing.
Validate Without Agreeing
First just listen to the other person. Be genuine and authentic. Don’t lie to them and pretend to agree. But also don’t judge, criticize or ridicule their feelings.
Also, do not try to “fix” their feelings or try to explain away how they feel. Their feelings do not have to be the same as yours. Do not try to compare them with your own. Simply listen, ask questions if appropriate, and offer your presence and support.
Basically be kind and don’t make them feel ashamed or that they are wrong for feeling the way they feel. Think how you would want them to react if you were in their situation. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful. If you did, please share it!
And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog below!
Until next time,