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.


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