Validation Is Not Submission
Validation is not submission.
This hit home for me the other day when I was talking with a client who having a heated moment with his partner.
In the story he was sharing, it became clear to me that he held a belief that if he validated his partner’s feelings, he was submitting to them, which in his mind, meant he was saying yes to letting her feelings and her experience take over his. It was as if they were in competition, and she was going to win, leaving him feeling like he had no choice other than to let her emotions run all over him. This was his belief. He was none too happy.
This, of course, piqued my curiosity, because one of my current practices involves considering how two opposing forces, energies, experiences, etc, can co-exist… that is life and life situations don’t have to be either or, right or wrong, his/her’s, yours/mine. Same coin, two sides, same coin, same value.
I asked my client if it was possible for him to listen to his partner, without taking it on, without fixing anything, without getting into story about this, that or the other. I asked him what it might be like for him to listen and offer something like… “I hear you. I see you are upset, and I hear you.” In doing so, he would be validating his partner’s experience, whether he agreed with her or not, all the while staying true to himself. This option sort of stumped him because it was something he had never thought possible. It was a new way to relate with his partner, and perhaps with other people in his life.
When he reported back to me, he shared with me that it went really well. His partner was hungry for validation. We soon learned that validation was a crucial piece to her healing and for their reconciliation. (Yay!!!)
Regardless of where you are on your relationship path, feelings come up. It’s a natural part of being human. It’s my belief that you don’t have to agree with someone’s feelings to validate their experience. You don’t have to change what you are thinking, wanting, doing, etc, because someone is having a feeling about it. Both parties are valid in their desires, and their desires are valid. It’s how we show up in those moments and how we communicate our desires that will either help or hinder our relationships.
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