How to Validate Someone’s Feelings (With Sample Statements)
Published December 12, 2023
Have you ever had someone tell you about something that riled them up, and you said to them that it’s too trivial to be angry about?
My friends, that is a classic example of invalidating someone’s feelings. Admit it or not, many of us have done this to someone at least once. This is precisely why we must learn how to validate someone’s feelings.
How would you feel if we were to reverse the situation and you were the one getting told that your anger is unreasonable? Not very nice, right? That’s precisely how the other person felt when you invalidated their feelings.
Contrary to popular belief, validating other people’s feelings doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing that their emotional response is appropriate. Instead, it’s about showing that you understand their feelings and that feeling that way is perfectly alright.
If you don’t know where to start, here’s our quick guide on validating someone’s feelings.
Importance of Emotional Validation
In a world where emotions are often brushed aside or invalidated, the significance of emotional validation cannot be overstated. Emotional validation encompasses genuinely listening to and comprehending someone’s feelings, thereby acknowledging their experiences and assuring them that their emotions hold value and importance. This seemingly simple gesture of validation can profoundly impact an individual’s well-being and sense of self-worth.
When we take the time to validate someone’s emotions, we create a safe space for them to express themselves authentically. This fosters a deep connection and understanding within relationships, demonstrating our genuine interest in their experiences and emotions. It shows that we are willing to empathize with and support them, promoting a greater sense of trust and strengthening our bond.
Moreover, emotional validation empowers individuals to manage their own emotions better. By validating someone’s feelings, we help them develop a healthier relationship with their emotional experiences. They no longer need to suppress or dismiss their feelings out of fear or shame. Instead, they learn to embrace their emotions as a natural part of their human experience. This acceptance allows for personal growth and self-compassion, as individuals can learn to accept themselves without judgment or resorting to self-blame.
How to Validate Other People’s Feelings
Validating other people’s emotions isn’t an easy task. That’s why we’ve outlined some steps to serve as your guide:
1. Listen With an Open Mind.
Listening without judging is easier said than done. Most of us are raised with prejudices, which usually rear our ugly heads when we hear others discuss something we disagree with.
That’s why the first step to validating someone’s feelings is to listen with an open mind. Keep in mind that everyone’s experiences aren’t the same. That’s why we have different reactions to similar circumstances.
So, to validate someone’s feelings, start by listening without prejudice. Focus on what they say instead of judging them for feeling that way.
2. Don’t Interrupt When They’re Talking
Interrupting someone when they’re talking is not only rude but also one of the worst ways to invalidate someone’s feelings. You’re telling the other person what they’re saying isn’t unimportant.
As a result, that person will feel like their feelings don’t matter or that they are just overreacting. They’ll feel guilty and ashamed because they think it’s wrong to feel that way. The next time they feel that way again, those feelings of guilt and shame will resurface, slowly chipping away at their confidence.
So the next time someone pours their heart out to you, just listen. You may nod at certain times to show them that you’re listening. But never cut them mid-sentence. That’s the best thing you can do for them.
3. Show That You Care
One of the best ways to tell someone their feelings are valid is by showing that you care. You don’t need grand gestures. Just holding their hand or a simple tap on the shoulder is a massive encouragement for someone struggling. It lets them know that someone understands and it’s perfectly alright to feel that way.
4. Match Their Mood and Energy Level
When a friend tells you some great news, and they can’t contain their excitement, you need to match their mood and energy level. Don’t be a Debbie Downer. What would you feel if you were in their shoes and the other person didn’t share your enthusiasm? It’s a total bummer, right?
Besides, sharing their enthusiasm is another way of showing that you care for them. It lets them know that you’re happy for them. They won’t have to feel guilty for feeling so happy while you’re not.
5. Ask Questions
Asking questions is one of the best ways to show that you’re listening and interested in what they say. It doesn’t necessarily mean interrupting them while they’re talking. You can ask questions after they’re done pouring their heart out.
Questions like “How long have you been dealing with this?” or “Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?” are a great start. However, steer clear of intrusive questions, especially if you’re not that close. It can make people feel like they’re being interrogated and may only cause them to retreat to their shells.
6. Acknowledge the Source of the Emotion
We all have different life experiences. As such, we react differently to similar situations. Leftover foods being casually thrown away might not be a big deal to someone who has never experienced hunger growing up. But it can be a source of irritation for someone who grew up having to worry about their next meal constantly.
You may not always understand why people get so emotional over things you consider too trivial. You need to remember this when listening to someone talk about their feelings. You need to acknowledge the source of their emotions instead of judging them right from the get-go.
7. Avoid Giving Advice
This is the last thing you’d want to do. Not everyone who confides in you is looking for advice. Most of the time, they just need someone to vent to – someone willing to listen and understand.
Even if you think you have some solid advice, remember that your priority is to listen. You might mean well, but giving them a piece of your mind may only make the situation about you instead of them. So it’s better to avoid giving advice altogether.
8. Express Empathy
Show empathy by putting yourself in their shoes and understanding their perspective. Use phrases like “I can imagine that must be difficult” or “I understand why you would feel that way.”
9. Reflect Their Feelings
Mirror their emotions back to them to let them know that you acknowledge and understand what they are experiencing. For example, saying, “It sounds like you’re feeling frustrated” or “I can sense that this situation is making you anxious.”
10. Validate Their Experience
Recognize their valid and legitimate feelings, regardless of whether you would feel the same way. Avoid minimizing or dismissing their emotions by saying things like “I can understand why that would be upsetting” or “Your feelings are completely valid.”
11. Offer Support
Let them know you are there for them and willing to support them. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help or simply offer a listening ear. Knowing someone is there to keep them can make a big difference.
12. Avoid Judgment
Refrain from judging or criticizing their feelings. Everyone experiences emotions differently, and respecting and accepting their unique perspective is essential.
Examples of Validating Statements
Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of validating someone’s feelings, here are some examples of validating statements you can use:
- How are you feeling today?
- I’m sorry you had to go through that.
- I believe in you.
- It makes sense that you feel/think…
- What you are thinking/feeling is normal.
- I, too, would feel that way if I were in your situation.
- I appreciate that you feel comfortable enough to share this with me.
- I’m proud of you.
- You’re right.
- It must have been challenging to open up about…
- I can totally understand why you felt that way.
- I can see how hard you are working.
- That must have been really hard for you.
- What a horrible feeling that must be.
- I don’t have the same beliefs as you, but I can see this is important to you.
- It must make you feel horrible to have someone do that.
- That’s messed up.
Invalidating Responses to Avoid
Here are some things you should never say to someone if you want to validate their feelings:
- You’ll be fine.
- I think you’re just being too sensitive.
- Just get over it.
- You’re overreacting.
- I hated it when that happened to me. (Don’t make the situation about you.)
- What’s the big deal? You should feel lucky…
- Well, life’s not fair.
- What you should really do is…
- I bet they were just…
- Don’t be such a crybaby.
- That’s your fault for getting yourself into these kinds of situations.
- Why can’t you be like (mention someone else’s name)?
Validating someone’s feelings is never easy. It requires empathy, compassion, and a willingness to listen to and understand other people’s emotions. But the fact that you’re here and reading this post up to this point proves that you are indeed willing to learn. And that’s all that matters.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer and devoted Christian. She has a passion for writing about topics related to morality and helping the poor and homeless. She is the lead author for the Our Father’s House Soup Kitchen blog.
Correct Digital, Inc is paid by private donors to provide website digital marketing services to this non-profit organization.