Validation and Empathy Vs. Sympathy

I recently talked with someone about validation, and we both agreed how important it is. One of the ways to define validation is by defining what it’s not. Validation is not “but”s. That’s right. Not buttbut. Anytime we use the word “but” we are actually invalidating, rather than validating.

I’m sorry, but . . .

I get what you’re saying, but . . .

I know how you feel, but . . .

I understand you’re point of view, but . . .

Validation is not trying to make someone understand our point of view. It is not about getting them to see what they did wrong, either. It is about seeing things from their perspective, understanding it as their truth and simply being there for them even if we have a different perspective.

Another thing validation is not is trying to fix things. Again, it’s about letting someone know we understand where they are coming from and that we have their back, rather than pointing out what they did wrong or what they can change in order to fix the situation.

I think validation goes hand in hand with empathy. Someone shared this video with me about empathy versus sympathy from Brene Brown, and I loved it so much. Check it out here :

Validation doesn’t mean condoning or encouraging bad behavior, but none of us are perfect. Even if we can figure out in our heads how we might handle a situation or how we would feel if we were in their shoes, it doesn’t necessarily mean our own response is the right response or is what would work for someone else. And we are not gods, so we can’t judge. Emotions are real, and need to be felt. There are difficult things we all go through in life and having someone who can validate and empathize with us is so important. This conversation I had and watching Brene Brown’s video inspired me to do better with this. I hope it can inspire others as well.



Back in March I went through an incredibly traumatic experience that gave me Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had never experienced this before. Living with PTSD the last several months has been hellish, heavy and dark. I didn’t completely understand what was going on until I started going to counseling. My amazing therapist was the one who recognized the signs and symptoms and why certain things were triggering such horrible and immediate panic attacks.

You know that saying, Time heals all wounds? It’s not true. Time can help, but it doesn’t just end the suffering. I hoped time would help with the PTSD, but it didn’t. I needed something more. Enter EMDR. After even the first session, it started to help. Now, after three sessions and a couple of months of counseling the things triggering my PTSD are no longer affecting me—at all! Sometimes the EMDR can be really heavy, as you dive into those difficult, traumatic events and the feelings associated with them. But it also gave me the tools I needed to recover. It may sound too good to be true, but it is true. It has worked, and I feel so much more light, hope and happiness in my life.

As I have often stated in my posts, everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for someone else. But you’ll never know unless you try. My therapist has said it takes courage to admit you need help and courage to actually get help. I’m glad I had the courage because it has changed my life already. For anyone out there who is suffering from PTSD, there is hope. You have the courage inside of you. I know you do. Give EMDR a try. If it doesn’t work, keep looking. Time probably won’t just heal it, but there are things out there that can.