If you don’t know the difference between being a victim vs. validating your partner, you’re in trouble! Knowing the difference determines whether conflicts in your relationships will be put to rest or thrown back in the hopper to be argued again and again!
Let me explain. . .
The first thing that happens in any “discussion” is a complaint about your behavior. You then get to choose your response . . . will you be victimy or validating?
VICTIMY: You make the complaint about YOU, not about the feelings your partner is having. Because you think it is about YOU, you feel wounded. You respond with defensiveness, cut-off, criticism, argument, or an outright attack on your partner. This process leaves your partner feeling unheard! Their complaint never gets heard because the conversation got shifted from THEIR feelings to YOUR feelings. What happens next? Do you think the complaint just goes away? Or will it be brought up again in future arguments? You are right! The complaint is kept alive, the wound from not being heard will get poked from time to time and the discussion will resume. It may seem like it can never be resolved. When people don’t feel heard, it is amazing how fresh and detailed the issue can come back to life – even 13 years later!!
You can keep doing the victimy method, OR you can try the healthier option when your partner has a complaint. . .
VALIDATING: You keep your partner’s complaint about THEM! It is about THEIR feelings, THEIR experience, THEIR issue that was triggered. It isn’t about you! When you keep in touch with the fact that the complaint is about THEIR feelings, you can be tender, compassionate, understanding, and empathetic. You recognize that your partner is legitimately hurting! When you love your loved one, you don’t want them to hurt and you will gladly consider their request. You may have to adjust your behavior or apologize for something you did, but again, if you love your partner, you are motivated to correct the behavior that hurts them – especially if you have really seen their pain about it! When you really validate someone’s feelings, you show them that you understand their heart. They feel heard and the issue doesn’t get brought back up again – or at least not with the same intensity!
How can you tell which mode you are in? The intensity! If one or both of you are in victimy mode, your conversation has shifted into an argument. Voices are raised, the responses are more rapid and you are interrupting each other – all in an effort to get heard. The gloves come off and an all-out street fight may ensue! It doesn’t really resolve, the two people just stop fighting and they are disconnected from each other until they can bury their hurt feelings enough to be civil – at least until it comes up again!
If you are in validating mode, the conversation sounds like a discussion between two friends over coffee. It is calm, nurturing, and caring. There is a resolution at the end and both people feel better when the conversation is over. They have shared their hearts and maintained their connection throughout the conversation.
This stuff is hard! We all have our own issues that get triggered in our relationships and sometimes that makes validating nearly impossible. With time and practice, however, you and your partner can learn how to validate each other and find a deeper, more connected love than ever before!