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Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Power of Validation : Part 2

Before reading this, it would be helpful if you would read The Power of Validation : Part 1 because it talks about what Validation is and gives some examples of validating statements.  And I want to remind you that even though I talk about it in terms of a marriage relationship, this also relates to your relationships with your children as well. 
For this post I'm going to talk about things that might get in the way of being able to validate someone's feelings. I'm going to start with the things I feel were getting in MY way :
#1: I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO VALIDATE : I lacked the specific relationship skills needed to know how to do this.  I have since learned that this was not present in my own home growing up, which put me at a disadvantage. But this is a chance to learn and I promise you, it will be rewarding.

#2. My reactions to his emotions come on so quickly : Anything he was feeling, I immediately felt emotional about them. Either because I might have been thinking that he felt that way because of me, or of something I wasn't doing good enough, etc.  And so then I would find myself being defensive and dismissing his feelings or I would start to cry about it.  It didn't even give him a chance to get his feelings out and turned into him comforting me, instead of the opposite way around.

#3. Most of the time I didn't agree with the reason he was experiencing his feelings : I think deep down I felt like that if I acknowledged his feelings in a caring manner, then it would give the impression that whatever happened was OK. And it certainly was not OK. I would get stuck needing to be "right" instead of letting him have his feelings.

#4. My habit might be to teach and fix the problem : If his feelings were based on a mistake, I was sure to point that out and how he could have done better. That "no wonder he was feeling that way". He wouldn't be feeling that if he would have just made a smart decision in the first place!  I wish I would have understood that I can't fix all his problems, and that only he could be the one to do that.  But just by listening and being there can make a world of difference.
Some other reasons that might get in the way are:
-If I validate, I won't be heard (or my pain won't be understood)
-If I validate, it will only enable the destructive behaviors
- If I validate, they will get stuck in complaining about their problem
-If I validate, their emotions will escalate and get out of control

You might be able to relate to some of these more than others, but it will do you some good to look at your relationships and see if you have been able to use validation and if not, what is getting in the way?

I learned the hard way what could happen when my spouse wasn't feeling validated.  He found someone that could do that for him!  He did not go looking for fact, he probably wouldn't even be able to articulate that he was needing that.  But with me, he started to feel like it wasn't ok for him to have his emotions and feelings the way he has them. Or he didn't feel that I loved, accepted or valued him as much if he made a mistake.  I appeared to be so disappointed that it was easier to NOT talk to me than to try anymore. But again, he was just in "that's the way it is" mode.

Have you ever heard your spouse tell you, "I just don't feel like I can talk to you about certain things" or "I should have told you, but I was too embarrassed" or "I didn't want to tell you because I didn't want you to be disappointed in me". "I don't feel like you care about what I'm going through".

Was your response like mine in saying things like "Don't be silly! Of course I care about you!" or "There's no reason you should ever feel embarrassed with me!" or " I don't understand why you feel like you can't talk to me! I'm here for you!"   Well, that is not validation.  You need say that it must be so hard to feel that way and that you are so sorry that you've made him feel like he can't come to you. And then you can try to figure out specifically what you are doing that is making him feel this way and try to learn to validate feelings a little better. 

Unfortunately, if this is happening in your marriage, it is most likely happening with your children as well.   And we especially want them to be able to come to us and be able to tell us anything.  So now is the time to learn about how to do this better.  Our relationships depend upon it!!

And to clarify, I don't mean to say that just because you lack certain relationship skills doesn't mean that an affair will most definitely happen.  I am simply sharing what I've learned about myself and my relationship, in hopes that I can help anyone out there. 

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