emotional validation is a process of learning, understanding and expressing acceptance of the emotional experience of another individual or oneself ( emotional self validation ). The opposite of emotional validation is “emotional invalidation”, which refers to the rejection, ignorance or judgment of another person’s emotional experience.

The validation of emotion improves interpersonal relations as the other person feels understood , recognized, and favours the increase of the verbalization of what the other person thinks and feels, as he or she feels heard. This causes an increase in trust between the two and establishes the basis for creating a good relationship.

Acceptance, empathy and expression of emotional validation

The acceptance is an option presented to us when it comes to resolving conflicts, especially in interpersonal relationships. As part of this, emotional validation is a way of communicating acceptance towards others (or towards ourselves), but it does not mean that we agree with or share the other person’s thoughts. Validation is accepting and validating what another person is feeling whether or not we agree with their point of view or their feelings. Therefore, emotional validation is empathy and acceptance towards another individual.

On the other hand, although it is common to judge or criticize what other people think if we do not agree with them, on many occasions we do not show that we disagree. This is not emotional validation, since emotional validation offers opportunities for emotional expression . Validation is not just accepting emotions, but this acceptance must be communicated to the other person.

Tips to improve emotional validation

Learning to validate emotions correctly can take practice. Validating an emotion consists in making explicit the emotion we believe the person has (for example, does this make you feel…? ) and implies that the other person feels understood, valued and accepted. Here are some tips to improve emotional validation.

1.Be present

There are many ways to be present, but in the world we live in we are not always present. Being in full attention (or full consciousness) is the first step to emotional validation. Some strategies to achieve this are: holding the hand of the person who is talking to us and paying attention to what they are saying , or using active listening. Mindfulness training can be useful for learning to be in the present moment.

2.Listening and Reflecting

The objective reflection refers to making an objective summary of what the other person has told you. But not just any summary is valid. After active listening (paying attention to your reactions and emotions), reflection allows you to learn and understand more deeply by looking at situations from different lenses. Challenging questions will even help you to question your own beliefs about the world. But for objective reflection, it is necessary to have knowledge about EQ, as it can help you to understand, label and regulate emotions, and to separate the latter from thoughts and cultural impositions .

3.Understanding the reaction of others

On many occasions we let ourselves be carried away by the intensity of the emotions and we do not stop to think about the cause in the reaction of other people . It is basic to understand what the other person may be feeling or thinking. The ability of each individual with respect to emotional intelligence is different, but it can be learned. Although we cannot read minds, we can try to find out what has led the other person to act in that way. To understand another person’s reaction, you can encourage him or her to talk through carefully chosen questions and expressions that let him or her know that you understand how he or she feels and are willing to listen to him or her talk about it. For example, “I think you were offended by the comment I just made.

4.Understanding the situation

It is important to have knowledge about the culture and context of the other . Therefore, reading emotions implies that with few elements one can formulate a hypothesis about their emotional reaction. This hypothesis must be communicated to the other person so that he/she can express us if we are right. For example, with a person who has been bitten by a dog, we could say “because of what happened to you with a dog a few years ago, I understand that you do not want my dog to come near you”.

5.Normalizing emotions

Understanding emotional reactions as something normal helps everyone . For an emotionally sensitive person to know that most people can feel the same way in the same situation is beneficial. For example, “I understand that you may be anxious or nervous. Speaking in front of an audience can be a difficult situation the first time.

6.Be open-minded about the emotional experience of others

Acceptance and open-mindedness towards the emotional experience of the other will be positive for any interpersonal relationship. Regardless of the emotion the other person is feeling, it is their emotion and it must be respected. It is important to make room for all emotions, because all of them have a meaning .