Reducing Conflict with Validation

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 Rome visit, June 2008 - 57Creative Commons License

Validation is the acknowledgement of  your own or someone else’s  inner experience (feelings, thoughts, urges) and behaviors as understandable. Validation helps you improve communication with those you love. When you validate others, you create a safe context for them to express their fears, worries, and issues that make them uncomfortable. When you have open, accurate communication, then you can problem solve.

John comes home from work and his wife Amy meets him at the door holding the credit card bill. She has an angry look on her face. In a loud voice she says, “You know we are trying to cut the credit card bill. We agreed to discuss any charges. It’s not even two weeks later and you’ve already broken that promise.  How dare you!  How can I ever trust you?”

How will John respond?  Of course he will say something like, “You are always on my case. I can’t do anything right. You’re the reason we’re in this credit card mess anyway, so don’t go blaming me.”  Communication then becomes an argument. John responded to his wife’s anger with his own anger. While that is understandable and natural, it doesn’t help either of them have a helpful discussion.

John’s first emotional reaction to his wife’s upset was likely one of shame or guilt, because he had broken their agreement not to use the credit card. Instead of expressing his guilt, he defends himself with anger. That makes him less vulnerable, and it also makes effective communication more difficult.  If he had accurately expressed his feelings, John might have said, “Oh, honey, you are right. I can understand how you would be so hurt. I did use the credit card and then I felt guilty about it. I meant to tell you and I kept putting it off.” That would be a more accurate expression of his thoughts and emotions. In turn, Amy would likely react in a calmer way. They then problem solve together. Validation helps you stay on the same side.

Amy did not express her primary emotion either. When she first saw the credit card bill, she was hurt and scared. Anger was easier to experience so she quickly went to anger and thought of her husband as a jerk. She saw the situation as an attack on her and responded with an attack on her husband. Her way of talking with him triggered an angry response. She could have more accurately expressed her emotions by saying, “I saw that you used the credit card without talking with me and I was so hurt and disappointed. I thought we had an agreement. I know that you care about our future too and at the same time I was also scared because I’m afraid if we don’t stick to our plan we’ll lose the house. I’d just like to understand what happened.”

Accurate expression and validation of the other person’s feelings leads to a more productive discussion.  Using validation means giving up the idea of responding to anger with anger or defending yourself. That is difficult.  Dr. Alan Fruzzetti suggests that you keep in mind that you and the person you have a relationship with are in the same boat and need to work together for the relationship to survive.  He also suggests that you visualize how what you want to say to the other person will affect the relationship in the long run.  Will it help or hurt the relationship?

Photo Credit:  Ed Yourdon via Compfight



8 Reasons to Celebrate Love

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 

I'll Give You All I Can...

Valentine’s Day may be one of your favorite holidays. You see it as an occasion to celebrate your relationship. Or maybe you think Valentine’s Day is just a tool for businesses to sell cards, flowers and chocolates. Whatever your view of the day, there are some strong reasons to celebrate love.

1.  If you are good at connecting people, then you are likely to be a happier person. Whether it’s a business, friendship or romantic connection, introducing people who form a relationship is good for you.  Your happiness is increased when the introduction is successful, so it’s also a bit risky.

2.  A 75-year long study done at Harvard was dedicated to finding the secrets to a happy life.  George Vaillant, the head of the study, said the  most important finding is that the only thing that matters in life is relationships. Happiness, according to his study, is about the love in your life and finding a way to cope with life so you don’t push love away.

3.  Having relationships in your life will make you happier. These relationships provide you with validation of your value and competence. The relationships don’t have to be family or friends in any particular balance–just close relationships.

4.  Love and passion inspire people to great accomplishments.  Think about people who have made a positive difference in the world. Many of them were driven by their love for humanity.

5.  There’s evidence that relationships decrease your stress and improve your physical health.

6. Loving connections with others can help erase the emptiness some people feel.

7.  Having close relationships enhances the positives that you experience and helps minimize the pain of the negatives.

8.  Relationships with pets make us happier too.  Loving a pet counts.

You can probably add other benefits to this list. Knowing that you have support and “belong” is a key step toward your well being. For emotionally sensitive people, the vulnerability required to create close relationships can be daunting. Staying isolated may seem safer. In this case that may be short-term thinking, perhaps based on fear. Short-term thinking means that your decision to isolate may appear more desirable right now, but that decision does not work well in the long run. Part of establishing and keeping relationships is a willingness to think about the bigger picture and stay focused on the long-term benefits. If you decide to build relationships in your life, take small steps and be compassionate with yourself. Building relationships is difficult and the benefits are significant.

Survey:  If you are an emotionally sensitive person who does not have a mental health diagnosis, please consider completing our survey to help us learn more about emotional sensitivity.  Thank you.

 

Photo Credit:  Brandon Warren via Compfight



Trusting Wisely

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 

As you know from the last post, trustworthiness is not constant. People are not consistently trustworthy or consistently untrustworthy but vary according to situations they are in.  Whether you behave in a more trusting way or not may vary in ways that you are not aware.

First, if you are feeling grateful you are more likely to behave in trusting ways to others. In fact, your level of trust is likely to vary exactly according to the level of gratitude you are experiencing at the moment. Notice this has nothing to do with the other person or the specific situation but is only based on the feelings you are experiencing. So maybe feeling good makes you trust others or be less judgmental and cautious?  Yes, but it’s not only feeling grateful that increase your trust in others. If you are socially stressed, then you are also more likely to trust others. In fact, researchers found that social anxiety increased the rate of cooperation (trust) by about 50 per cent. Again, those feelings have nothing to do with trust.It’s not only feelings that increase trust. It could be the power of suggestion. If you believe you are wearing knock-off designer sunglasses, then you will act in less trustworthy ways than if you believe the sunglasses you are wearing are authentic.

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Your Pattern of Trust

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 

 

 

 

handshake isolated on business background

 

For emotionally sensitive people, trusting someone is often a huge challenge.  Everyday, in one way or another, you probably ask yourself if you can trust different people. Trust plays a central role in your relationships, your business decisions, choices you make about your health, how you love, and how you invest your money.  The need to trust is uncomfortable and scary. It points out that you are vulnerable. You may fear being rejected or judged. Yet you can’t get the outcomes you want in life and meet your needs without trust. You need the cooperation of others. Your pattern of trusting or not trusting others may make relationships and cooperation more difficult.

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Letting Go of Blame

By Karyn Hall, PhD

[Social Media Week] E se fossero i Social Media ad usare Voi?Creative Commons License

 

When something goes wrong, one of the first responses many people have is to blame someone. Being at fault may bring up many fears. If you can blame someone else, you can avoid the painful feelings of guilt and shame. You can avoid the fear of not being good enough and perhaps the resulting fear of abandonment. Maybe you panic when you may have done something wrong or taken action that didn’t work out because in the past others have rejected you or perhaps punished you for making a mistake. Blaming is the way you attempt to protect yourself.  Whatever the reason, blame usually leads to conflict and damaged relationships in addition to blocking problem solving. Time spent blaming only delays finding a solution to whatever happened.

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Emotional Secrets

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 

Girl in DespairCreative Commons License

Do you have a secret you are keeping?  Perhaps a secret about something that is extremely emotionally upsetting to you? Events you experience that are shameful, traumatic, or embarrassing are often kept secret. Yet any major upheaval that you keep hidden from others can compromise your physical and mental health.

There are many reasons that emotional secrets can be so damaging. When you don’t talk about an upsetting event, you may ruminate and have difficulty letting go and moving on. Ruminating usually brings intense misery. Keeping a secret about a major event changes your relationships. You can no longer talk as openly with friends and family as you did before the secret. The secret builds a wall between you. You are always on guard, careful to not say anything that would give your secret away. You may hold yourself back too, not wanting to get too close with anyone for fear you might want to share what happened to you. You may not feel worthy of close relationships, feeling that you are tainted or flawed as a person. Perhaps you see yourself separate and different from others and have lost the sense of belonging you once had.

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What’s Your Protective Armor in Relationships?

By Karyn Hall, PhD

NYAF/NYCC

When you are emotionally sensitive, your feelings are quicker to come about, more intense and last longer than those of other people. When you’re seen as being different, particularly in a way that others don’t understand, then relationships are difficult to maintain. Others often don’t understand your emotional reactions.

Emotionally sensitive people have many ways of  putting on armor to protect themselves from the  painful judgments and rejections of others. You’ve learned that when you show your emotional sensitivity you’ll be labeled as flawed or broken or at least not understood.  The heightened fear of being rejected that many of you fear is often based in reality.

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Joy Blockers

By Karyn Hall, PhD

ColoursCreative Commons License

I’ve just completed several months of intense work, all by my choice. Today I do not have any deadlines that are pressing and nothing that I have to do. There is much I could do, but nothing I have to do. I can just breathe, enjoy the moments of the day, and be grateful.

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Make a Difference: Accept Your Emotional Sensitivity

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 sparkling heart - have a sparkling weekend ;)

Emotionally sensitive people are among the most compassionate and passionate people in the world. Often creative, you have talents as artists, writers, and musicians. You add to the caring and beauty of the world. Many times you also struggle with self-hatred, depression, anxiety, and horrible feelings of alienation. Those struggles are likely not due to your being emotionally sensitive. Much of your suffering may come from self-doubt and from an agonizing experience of being broken. That likely comes from what you are told and experience as a child.

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An Epidemic of Urgency

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 Churchill DownsCreative Commons License

Urgency means requiring swift action and seems to include a nuance of importance. If something is urgent, it is important and needs to be done quickly. Somehow my urgency sensor is stuck in the “on” position. I perceive urgency and react as if my activity is critically urgent when all I’m doing is going to the grocery store or taking a shower. I  feel pressure that time is passing and I’m not going to get it all done, or won’t get it done on time.  What “all” is and why it has to be done is not clear, if I even consider it.  When I drive to the office, there’s an urgency to get there on time. When I’m going through my day, there’s an urgency keep to the schedule. When I’m at the gym, I am focused on getting the workout done so I can get on to the next activity.

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Savvy
The Power of Validation
The Power of Validation
The Power of Validation
Karyn Hall, PhD is the author of the above books.
Check out their details by clicking on the cover.


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