If you’ve ready my other content, you know how passionate I am about emotional validation. But you also may have wondered to yourself, “is there ever a time when validation isn’t the answer?” In all my years of research on the topic, I’ve only found one instance where validation can do more harm than good.
While the concept of validation is relatively simple, knowing how to effectively implement it in your day-to-day can be a bit more difficult. The Four-Step Validation Method is a tried-and-true approach to giving validation and feedback in nearly any situation. I reverse-engineered it from thousands of successful validation experiences and boiled it down to four basic steps. Each step is accompanied by several key principles that provide additional insight and direction.
“I have a fear that if I validate my wife’s feelings, I will become her venting box. I do not want to come home from work just to listen to all the things that went wrong in my wife’s day, and then I say “oh babe, I’m so sorry. That sounds hard,” and then rinse and repeat. I want our interactions to be positive. Not negative. Am I wrong in thinking that it shouldn’t be my job to listen to her (or anyone else’s) negativity so that she (they) can feel better?”
Do you have a hard time saying “no” to people, because you don’t want to be rude? Is there someone in your life you’re always covering for, because they’re consistently late, can’t be counted on, or frequently act irresponsibly? Or perhaps you’re always helping people, but no one ends up ever being there for you?
One of my pet peeves is when people ask a favor or a commitment of some sort, but instead of leading with the request, they first ask if you’re available. “Any fun plans for Saturday?” “No, not really.” “Great! I’m moving and would love your help. It’ll only take all day.” I call these “commitment traps,” and, while they’re annoying as all get-out, I’ve devised a simple, fail-proof way to navigate them with skill and grace.
All relationships take work. We as humans are always learning; always looking for a way to do things better. To be better connected. To have more compassion for others—or to have more compassion for ourselves. The following five books are among my most recommended, for their insights, practical advice, and general ability to bring greater awareness and satisfaction into your day-to-day relationships.
In any relationship where two whole, complete, capable people come together, they will each have interests outside of each other that add richness and excitement to life. And it’s simply not reasonable (or healthy) for either partner to expect the other to give them 100% of his or her time, attention, and energy.