Letting Others Know It’s OK to Not Feel OK – Offering Validation Instead of Advice
This morning my daughter was headed off to a 10-hour shift at her retail job. She was tired and unenthusiastic. This was a new job so there was still the stress of trying to learn her role. She had a couple of friends who worked there, but they weren’t going to be working this day. And she would be on her feet all day.
My first thought was to try to cheer her up. “Hey! Maybe you will get to know one of your new coworkers.” And, “It’s still better than your job a few years ago pulling weeds out in the heat.” Or, “That’s why they call it work and not fun.”
But then I checked in with myself. Was there a better approach? How could I validate her feelings instead of trying to change them?
“I’m sorry. It sounds like a stressful, lonely, and discouraging day. I hope it goes well.” She said, “Thank you.”
Have you ever had a situation you were dreading? Did someone try to cheer you up? If so, how did it feel? I know there are times when a little cheering up does help, but often, I just want someone to understand how I’m feeling. I want to feel OK with not feeling OK. I don’t want advice. I just want a little empathy.
I like to think of myself as a positivity catalyst. I want to help other people feel happier. But I continue to learn that sometimes the best way I can support others is to let them know that it’s OK to not feel OK.
Empathy doesn’t require that we have the exact same experiences as the person sharing their story with us… Empathy is connecting with the emotion that someone is experiencing, not the event or the circumstance. – Brené Brown
Can you think of recent examples where validating someone’s feelings would have been the best option? Or how about an example where you wish someone else would have just offered you a little empathy instead of advice?