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The Good (and Bad) of Validating Someone

This issue takes 1 minute and 47 seconds to read. Your point is valid. My point is valid. All our poi
The Good (and Bad) of Validating Someone
By Jordan Brown • Issue #120 • View online
This issue takes 1 minute and 47 seconds to read.
Your point is valid. My point is valid. All our points are valid.
Is that validation? Is that all it is?
Or is there more to it than that?
Well, there’s more to everything, so there’s certainly more to validation.
Join me on this magic validation carpet ride as we discuss the good (and bad) of validating someone.

Validate me, bro.
Validate me, bro.
What it Means to Validate Someone
Say your friend is upset about something. He says, “Man, I really don’t like her. She’s an idiot.”
What do you say in response?
Choose wisely. You could say, “Oh, shut up. You know you’re just complaining.”
Or you could say, “Yeah she can sometimes be frustrating.”
Which one of these two responses do you think will get a better reaction from your friend? If you said the second one, you’d be right 99 times out of 100.
But why?
Because you’re validating your friend’s experience. It doesn’t mean you agree with it. It doesn’t have to feel wonderful when you say it. But it’s a surefire way to get on the same page with your friend BEFORE you say or do anything else.
You see, validation is a tonic. It can help soothe any emotion before you go in for excavation. Don’t take a hammer to solve something when a feather would do the trick.
But is validation always good?
When Validation Isn't Appropriate
There are times when validation is not appropriate. In fact, there are times when it can do harm. If someone is in immediate danger, you do NOT want to validate the situation. You want to get help instead.
Here’s an example. If someone is clearly outraged, yelling and moving aggressively, it’s not time to validate that and cheer the person on. Doing that will only provoke the situation and probably lead to disaster.
OK. That’s an extreme example. Consider this next. What if someone has intense anxiety and is constantly checking with you to approve their actions? Although you might feel it’s helpful to constantly reassure them, this is actually preventing the person from getting the help they need. Eventually they will need to figure out a way to deal with their anxiety.
There are no perfect rules for this.
It’s going to take time to learn when to validate and when not to validate.
The most important thing you can do is think about the validation process in general–and the important role you play in it.

Wow! Thank you SO much for answering my survey yesterday. The responses were outstanding. It’s really going to help me think about the future of The Mental Health Update. Don’t worry, I’m not looking to quit this wonderful project; I just want to make sure I can continue to mindfully provide you the content that you need most. For instance, I’m going to shorten the daily emails to gauge the response, and then I might consider switching to a weekly format. Thank you. And if you didn’t get a chance to fill out the survey yesterday, you can do so here. It’s been taking folks about 2-3 minutes because of the longer, thoughtful responses I’m getting. Thank you so much.
Thank you for being here,
Jordan
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