This is part of my Blog Post Series: How To Thrive As An Adult
It’s simple. At least in theory.
In practice, it’s hard.
You validate someone by listening to them. For a time, they become your focus. They talk about their feelings. Their emotions. And you listen.
You don’t have to agree with them. You simply reflect back what they’re feeling with statements like, It sounds like you’re saying . . .
Don’t say, It could be worse. This diminishes their feelings.
Don’t tell them, It’s not that bad. That only serves yourself and how you’d like them to feel differently.
And don’t say, I’m sorry you feel that way. This is a polite way of expressing that you want to appear supportive, but you wish they felt differently.
In each case, your focus is on yourself. You’re uncomfortable with their hurting. So, you attempt to steer their emotional state to a place where you can be comfortable.
Don’t do that. Don’t make it about you.
Instead, you keep your focus on them. In that moment, they are important. In that moment, they want you to listen to them. To hear them. And to be ok with their hurting while they sort through their emotions. While they figure out what to do next.