Each day, human beings experience a vast range of positive and negative emotions. However, when we feel we need to hide these emotions from others around us, it can lead to breakdowns in communication, identity insecurity, and depression. Because of this, it is essential to practice and receive emotional validation from those around you.
What is emotional validation?
According to Psychology Today, the need for emotional validation comes from the desire to be “heard” or “seen” by others around us. Our emotions are important to us—it makes sense that we would want others to recognize that significance.
Feelings of invalidation can stem from a variety of sources, such as a dismissive parent during childhood or a poor support system as an adult. It is crucial to find the root cause of invalidation so it can be properly addressed.
How To Give and Receive Emotional Validation
Emotional validation is something that needs to be learned and practiced over time. As you begin to validate the emotions of those around you, they will be more likely to reciprocate and validate your emotions in response.
A good place to start is to identify the emotion someone is having when you speak with them. Emotions can be difficult to pinpoint, so you might ask the other person about their feelings if they haven’t stated them outright. For example, if someone seems upset, you could ask them, “You seem angry. Is everything okay?”
Once the emotion is identified, try to find its root cause. Be gentle, and try not to come across as accusatory—you don’t have to agree with everything the other person says, but don’t attack them or try to shut down their emotions.
Now that you know the emotion and its root cause, you can validate the other person. If they are upset with you, but you feel you’ve done nothing wrong, you don’t have to apologize. The goal is not to simply agree with everything the other person says. Instead, verbally recognize that the other person’s emotional response is valid.