This is the most important and yet the most challenging of all of the steps of emotion coaching. It communicates: “I understand you and your unique experience.”
Validating involves putting yourself in your loved one’s shoes and conveying understanding of their experience as they are experiencing it. This involves imagining what the situation must be like for them. It is important to accept, allow, and validate emotions that are different from what you expected or that are hard for you to understand.
When validating, it is also very important to resist going for the bright side, explaining with logic or trying to help them to see the situation as you see it. If you can do this, you will be showing your loved one that you understand them (and their unique experience) and this will 1) improve your relationship, 2) encourage them to keep coming to you when things get tough and 3) help them to move forward from the emotional challenge.
When validating it is also very important to “speak the unspoken”. Speaking the unspoken involves speaking that truth that you both know, but that neither of you want to say out loud.
“I can understand why you might feel sad. It really hurts to be excluded, especially when all of your friends are going to the party”.