Guide to Validation (of Others)

The following is courtesy of DBT and Marsha Linehan

This is a guide in how to validate others.

  1. Pay attention:
    – Look interested, listen and observe.
    – No multitasking.
    – Make eye contact.
    – Stay focused.
  2. Reflect back:
    – Say back what you heard or observed to be sure you actually understand what the person is saying.
    – No judgmental language or tone of voice.
    – Try to really “get” what the person feels or thinks.
    – Have an open mind.
  3. “Read minds”:
    – Be sensitive to what is not being said by the other person.
    – Pay attention to facial expressions, body language, what is happening, and what you know about the person already.
    – Show that you understand in words or by your actions.
  4. Understand:
    – Look for how the other person feels, is thinking, or if he or she is making sense, given the person’s history, state of mind or body, or current events (i.e. The causes) – even if you don’t approve of the person’s behaviour, or if his or her belief is incorrect
  5. Acknowledge the valid:
    – Show that you see that the person’s thoughts, feelings, or actions are valid, given current reality and facts.
    – Act as if the person’s behaviour is valid.
  6. Show equality:
    – Be yourself.
    – Don’t “one-up” or “one-down” the other person.
    – Treat the other as an equal, not as fragile or incompetent.

Be Non-Defensive and Check the Facts
– Check ALL the facts to see if your responses are valid or invalid
– Check them out with someone you can trust to validate the valid.
– Work to change invalid thinking, comments, or actions. (Also stop blaming, it rarely helps a situation).
– Drop judgmental self-statements.
– Be compassionate toward yourself.
– Admit that it hurts to be invalidated by others, even if they are right.
– Remember that being invalidated, even when your response is actually valid, is rarely a complete catastrophe.
– Describe your experiences and actions in a supportive environment.
– Grieve traumatic invalidation and the harm it created.
– Practice acceptance of the invalidating person.

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