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Author Topic: 1.11 | Validation Skill - Stop Invalidating Others  (Read 161413 times)
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« Reply #30 on: October 24, 2008, 11:36:58 AM »

Really important points! Good work.

Here is some reference material that will help.

Understanding Validation in Families [Video]   



Click on graphic to play

Alan E. Fruzzetti, PhD    51 min., 53 sec.    Oct-2008

Here is an excellent chance to learn validation from a renowned specialist in the field of BPD and DBT. It's like having your own private validation lesson and includes a power point slide along with the video of the lecture. The first video is 51 min, so get comfortable and open your mind and your heart to the power of validation. Alan Fruzzetti PhD is the author of "High Conflict Couples" and works closely with Dr Marsha Linehan and the NEA BPD.

This is a good basic 5 minute primer on validation.

           

Download all 15 slides > here <
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« Reply #31 on: October 24, 2008, 06:40:39 PM »

Yesterday I started to go back through all the posts in this workshop and I ended up finally watching the video.  

Honestly, it gave me a whole new understanding of what I've been doing wrong and changes I need to make.  

I would recommend that anyone who really wants to understand validation should take the time to watch.  Thanks for this workshop.  Thanks for the links, Skip.  And thanks for giving us this thread.

Peace & Meta
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« Reply #32 on: October 24, 2008, 06:53:37 PM »

Validation does work.

It's a critical skill for every parent with a BPD child. It has helped immensely with my 16 dd.

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« Reply #33 on: October 24, 2008, 09:12:11 PM »

If you are borderline, it means you believe, underneath it all, that you are seriously broken, at the core. You are not understood. We think, as Nons, we understand what they are saying... and we sometimes say it for them... but if we really, really LISTEN... we might learn something.

OK... so if the BPD is feeling validated... feeling like you understand what they are saying ( and you arent explaining/defending yourself) they will feel heard. That is a rare occurance for them. If they feel heard, they will feel safer. They will feel less defensive.

You will have fewer blowups and frustrating circle fights. You just may learn something about your SO. They are NOT playing on the same field we play on... it doesnt mean they are wrong and we are right. Thats an attitude we need to let go of and see one another as allies instead of in an adversarial way. Validation will start that.

Another acronym to remember is GIVE

G: Have a gentle attitude

I: Show interest in what your partner is saying

V: Validate what they are saying ( doesnt mean you agree, necessarily)

E: Easy manner... relaxed... smile... calm mannerisms

If you strive to GIVE, your validation will be more believable.

All of this stuff will feel artificial for awhile... but the more you do it, the more results you will see, and the less negative stuff you will see. Your partner WILL be suspicious, wonder what you have up your sleeve. Validate that... .You CAN see why she would be suspicious, it makes sense... The fact is, you are hoping to improve communication and Improve your relationship. You learned a new way that will enhance your ability to hear and understand her. You are sorry it seems weird right now, and in awhile, it wont.

In the above paragraph, you let her know a bunch of stuff... that she had reason to notice something was up because it was. You didnt tell her to stop being paranoid, you didnt lie to her, or tell her she was imagining things, or that nothing was up... you told her the truth. Right there, she gets to hear that you dont think shes insane... for once, you heard her and you told her you understand why she feels like that. Can you imagine how good that would feel? I promise, it does. You also told her you are engaged in the relationship and you are working hard to do your part to improve things.

Good luck with this stuff.  After awhile, it just becomes part of you and other relationships reap the benefits as well.

Steph
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« Reply #34 on: October 24, 2008, 09:14:42 PM »

Another acronym to remember is GIVE

G: Have a gentle attitude

I: Show interest in what your partner is saying

V: Validate what they are saying ( doesnt mean you agree, necessarily)

E: Easy manner... relaxed... smile... calm mannerisms

If you strive to GIVE, your validation will be more believable.

If you strive to GIVE, your validation will be more believable.

It has to be real.

This is a great workshop - so may great tips!
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« Reply #35 on: October 25, 2008, 10:52:38 AM »

Have you ever tried to validate your loved one, only to be told "you don't really mean that", or "stop using that stuff on me"?

What was your response?

Many have told me that they didn't know WHAT to say when challenged. I'd like to give you a very powerful tool that may make a difference.  If I say "I really care about how you feel"  and they say "no you don't!"  I need to repeat my message three more times in as a sincere tone of voice as I can muster

If we listing helpful tips, here is another... .

TOOL: The power of Three



Have you ever tried to validate your loved one, only to be told "you don't really mean that", or "stop using that stuff on me"?

"I really do care about how you feel"    

No, your just saying that"

"I really care about how you feel"    

"That's not true, you always hit_ ."

"I really care about how you feel"    

"well... .(calmer now) then how come you hit_ all the time?"


By being persistent, you will show them that you aren't faking it. You really mean what you say. They may bluster and bluff somewhat, but deep in their heart of hearts, they want to believe that we are telling the truth. Our persistence allows them to lower their defenses and open their hearts and their minds, so that real dialogue may be possible.

Keep in mind that tone of voice is critical, and so is facial expressions and body posture.

You can't be faking this one.

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« Reply #36 on: October 30, 2008, 03:17:10 PM »

I think I'm begining to understand.  So, say that she's really mad about something she thinks I did: instead of saying I didn't do it - just say "I would be really mad too if someone did that"  

Am I getting the idea?  Unless she asks me specifically - I should just answer to her point of view - and not to what really happened.

Peace & Metta
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« Reply #37 on: November 10, 2008, 12:02:58 PM »

Think of it this way... .

Next time, HEAR what he is talking about. I get the sense he had some issues he was trying to tell you about, and when you countered them, you told him he was wrong.

It is SO important that someone with BPD feel heard. I suspect this will help...

TRY THIS:

You: I hear that you think I think you are ugly. Is that right?

Him: Yes, I do

You: Why do you feel that way? I think you are an attractive guy.

Him: Well, you dont hold my hand in public any more...
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« Reply #38 on: November 10, 2008, 01:59:57 PM »

Next time, try validation instead of arguing... .HEAR what he is talking about. I get the sense he had some issues he was trying to tell you about, and when you countered them, you told him he was wrong. It is SO important that someone with BPD feel heard. I suspect this will help...

TRY THIS: I hear that you think I think you are ugly. Is that right?

Yes, I do

You: Why do you feel that way? I think you are an attractive guy.

Him: Well, you dont hold my hand in public any more...

OK... .not to really mess this discussion up. My wife sees right through validating statements (as you can tell... .my BPDw has read a few of the books)... .and is typically angered by them. Here is the response I typically get to the above type of validating statements

Her: "Nobody cares about me... .everyone has left me."

Me: It must be very painful to feel that way... .like nobody cares about you.

Her: "Stop it... .you don't have to validate me... .quite talking like a f'ing robot... .what happened to my husband that cared about me?"

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« Reply #39 on: November 10, 2008, 02:27:25 PM »

How about this?

Her: "Nobody cares about me... .everyone has left me."

Me: I dont understand... what do you mean when you say that?

Thats a legit question... .you havent left... what does she mean when she says everyone has left her?

You heard her, and you are interested in what shes talking about.

Steph

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« Reply #40 on: November 10, 2008, 07:16:08 PM »

What about this situation?  Yesterday we're in the middle of a conversation about an upcoming trip.  I'm talking.  She interrupts me to say, "You know now all that milk is going to go bad, because you won't be home to drink it.  That's why I never buy your milk."

How could I handle that?  Ticked me off for two reasons One because she interrupted me to say it.  And two, it felt like and unwarranted mini-attack.  Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Peace & Metta
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« Reply #41 on: November 13, 2008, 02:59:33 PM »

Validation takes practice and truthful/honest reactions. It takes time to get used to it because it is counter-intuitive (at least it was for me). What I do is listen to what is said, listen to the emotion expressed and respond to the emotion expressed or to the emotion expressed in the situation. For example:

My wife: All the people at work hate me.

Me: Wow, it sucks to feel like people hate you. What makes you feel that way?

My Wife: They ignore me and don't talk to me?

Me: So, you're feeling ignored at work. I think anyone would be upset if they're feeling ignored... .



I try and use a several step process which I call the I-AM-MAD communication skill:

1. Identify the emotions.

It’s best to do this with “feeling” words, like “look”, “see”, or “sound”, rather than “know” or “understand”.

Examples: “I see that you are frustrated.”

“You sound aggravated.”

“You look really upset.”

2. Ask a validating question.

This encourages them to share their feelings about whatever triggered them.  :)o not use “what’s wrong?”  If you use “what’s wrong?” they will hear “what’s wrong with YOU?”  Also, don’t assume you did anything wrong.  Remember, IAAHF (It’s All About His/Her Feelings).

Examples: “What happened?”  (most effective because it is open-ended, requires more than yes/no answer)

“Did something go wrong at work [school] today?”

“Want to talk about it?”

3. Make a validating statement about their emotion.  

Validate the feelings expressed in step 2.  This helps reinforce that it is natural and valid to feel what they are feeling in the situation.  Again, remember IAAHF.  :)on’t defend against blaming or projecting.  And don’t apologize at this point, even if you are guilty.  (Apologies for things you are actually guilty of can come later… after they have returned to their emotional baseline.)

Examples: “Wow, it must have made you feel awful to have done poorly on that test.”

“Yes, it is frustrating when it seems that someone is taking advantage of you.”

“Yeah, that’s really disappointing.”

4. Make a normalizing statement about their emotion.

By relating the situation as common to all people or “normal” for them, this helps alleviate their stress about feeling judged or unaccepted.

Examples: “I think anyone would feel angry if they had to do that”

“I would feel the same way if that happened to me.”

“I can see why you feel that way.”

5. Analyze the consequences of their behavior.

By examining the consequences of both negative and positive behavior with the person, you help them to separate their emotional reaction from their behavior. The behavior may need to be changed, but the emotions are natural and should not be punished for.

Examples:  “When you don’t ask questions about something that confuses you, I don’t realize that you are struggling, so I can’t help you. When you do ask questions though, I can either give you the information you need to solve the problem yourself or we can work together to figure out the best solution to the problem.

“When you yell at me, I feel disrespected and become upset too.  However, when you speak calmly to me, I know you have respect for me, so I am able to listen to you better.”

“When you refuse to talk to me, I don’t know what else to do except give you space.  When something is bothering you, it’s best to be open and honest with me so I know what’s going on and don’t make the wrong assumptions about what you need."

6. Don’t solve the problem for them.

Solving one’s own problems helps to build self-confidence.  Empower the person by getting them to come up with a solution themselves.  When given the opportunity in a non-judgmental setting, most people will find that they can come up with solutions to their problems.  You can guide them through this process by asking helpful questions to ascertain what they need or want.

Examples:  “How would you like to handle this?”

“What would help you make a better choice next time?”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

(Note:  Sometimes you have to go back and forth to help them find the most effective solution. They may say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t care.” This can be tough.  Go back to step one to deal with any additional emotions that become apparent.)

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« Reply #42 on: November 13, 2008, 05:55:32 PM »

I tried this. In my case, she's all destabilized out in CA alone right now. She got really upset and was saying "You don't care about me". I repeated "I care about you" three/four times. It didn't make everything automatically better, but I saw her pause when I did it. I could sense that she was just alittle bit less upset. So yeah, it wasn't dramatic, but any little thing helps.

And you know what else? She knows that I've been reading up on all this and learning tactics on how to make things better. I think she kinda knows what I'm doing and she likes it. It shows how much I really do care. She's even told me that - she can't beleive how much I love her- that I would do all this research, etc. She keeps saying no one else in the world could handle her. I almost agree with her. But, on her side, no one else could know me as well as she does either.

Thank you!
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« Reply #43 on: November 14, 2008, 01:16:41 AM »

I think sometimes just knowing we are trying to learn if we are open about it can help validate. Is can show we are trying to understand what is going on and how to make things better.
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« Reply #44 on: November 14, 2008, 11:14:39 AM »

The steps bondobbs lays our are really good. I esp like #6, since it seems that many of us do too much rescuing for our BPD.

Print that stuff out and really think about how to implement them. Then, practice, practice, practice. It becomes easier the more you do them.
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« Reply #45 on: March 17, 2009, 09:19:09 PM »

It Does Work.  I validate everything said to me and things are getting more peaceful around here.

Peace & Meta
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« Reply #46 on: April 29, 2009, 11:25:36 AM »

This is a very good workshop and I have been able to identify how I interacted with my ex on every single point in some way or another while the "flip side" is true as well in that my ex used to interact with me in the same way but from the "other side" of logical perception.

It's also very good for re-learning how to communicate with everyone and not just the BPD sufferer and especially in re-learning how to communicate with myself.  Something that helps me is that, if I can re-train my inner dialog then it will begin to manifest outwardly and eventually become first nature.

That's the goal for me.

When at first I would try so hard to understand where my ex would be coming from, then becoming exasperated as I didn't know what was really going on, these things were my fall back just to "get it to end."

Obviously, the outcome was predictable and it only escalated and whatever the issue was, it never truly ended... .only got buried to resurface again and again.

Thank you very much for this workshop for a new direction... .for a new life.

BTW: The link in the first post that points to the full article seems to be broken.  Any way of re-posting it?

All is appreciated.

Peace, UFH

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« Reply #47 on: April 29, 2009, 12:11:04 PM »

Great Stuff!  I have week to week custody (50%) of my 3 girls.  They have a great counselor, whose greatest value to me seems to be the "larger than life" validation and positive adult female role model that are her gift to them.

I am constantly struggling to move from authoritarian parenting (my nature) to become an authoritive parent (based on leadership).  The concept of a validating environment have been hard for me to truly understand.  This is most helpful.

The goal is to prevent or minimize BPD traits and/or collaterial damage from the BPD exposure.  Covey's 7 habits, especially the power of the apology, are negated by BUT.

Thanks and God Bless,

MIS
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« Reply #48 on: December 14, 2009, 03:54:52 PM »

ok, i am the mother of a BPD daughter, 31yo.

i dont like the feel of validating her. after she is so nasty, hateful, etc,

i really dont want to validate her at all.

i want to lock myself in my room or get her out of my house.

it might work but it seems like its just giving more power to someone who is already manipulating as much as she can.

faigel
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« Reply #49 on: December 14, 2009, 04:27:16 PM »

I am the MIL of a uBPD DIL.  I understand every word you wrote.  Confusing illness BPD is.  

Validation sometimes feels like I am placating her so I can be around my son and the grandkids ... .not very pleasant.  

But, I am learning about radical acceptance ... .at least that will give me permission to not like the behavior of my DIL and reinforce that I cannot change one thing... .just myself.
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« Reply #50 on: December 26, 2009, 12:10:48 AM »

ok, i am the mother of a BPD daughter, 31yo... .it might work but it seems like its just giving more power to someone who is already manipulating as much as she can.

I certainly get these feelings.  A cycle of conflict usually feels this way.  pwBPD are suffering and its hard to love someone that is suffering.

I think the hard question to ask ourselves is  which do we value more, peace in our family or our own sense of justice and secondarily do the relationship problems all fall to the other person or are we part in it or part of making it worse.

The first question is about personal values and I won't presume I can guide anyone on this.   For the second question, I thought a look at Bowen's "family systems" theory might be helpful.  I found it really humbling and it made me much more aware of myself in the family dynamics.



An individual’s overall life functioning is linked closely to his level of emotional maturity or differentiation. Emotional immaturity manifests in unrealistic needs and expectations. ~ Murray Bowen, M.D

Family members so profoundly affect each other's thoughts, feelings, and actions that it often seems as if people are living under the same "emotional skin." People solicit each other's attention, approval, and support and react to each other's needs, expectations, and distress. The connectedness and reactivity make the functioning of family members interdependent. A change in one person's functioning is predictably followed by reciprocal changes in the functioning of others.~ Murray Bowen, M.D

People select ... .partners who have the same level of emotional maturity.  ~ Murray Bowen, M.D


The theory was developed by Murray Bowen, M.D. in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when he was a psychiatrist at the Menninger Clinic. After his time at Menninger’s, he moved to the National Institute of Mental Health, to Georgetown University Medical Center and finally established the Georgetown Family Center in Washington, D.C.
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« Reply #51 on: June 23, 2010, 08:55:12 AM »

A great article to help with this... .

Invalidation
from "Sancuary for the abused"

Invalidation is to reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge, or diminish someone's feelings. Constant invalidation may be one of the most significant reasons a person with high innate emotional intelligence suffers from unmet emotional needs later in life.(1)

A sensitive child who is repeatedly invalidated becomes confused and begins to distrust his own emotions. He fails to develop confidence in and healthy use of his emotional brain-- one of nature's most basic survival tools. To adapt to this unhealthy and dysfunctional environment, the working relationship between his thoughts and feelings becomes twisted. His emotional responses, emotional management, and emotional development will likely be seriously, and perhaps permanently, impaired. The emotional processes which worked for him as a child may begin to work against him as an adult. In fact, one defintion of the so-called "borderline personality disorder" is "the normal response of a sensitive person to an invalidating environment" (2)

Psychiatrist R.D. Laing said that when we invalidate people or deny their perceptions and personal experiences, we make mental invalids of them. He found that when one's feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even they are perfectly mentally healthy. (Reference)

Recent research by Thomas R. Lynch, Ph.D. of Duke University supports the idea that invalidation leads to mental health problems. He writes "... .a history of emotion invalidation (i.e., a history of childhood psychological abuse and parental punishment, minimization, and distress in response to negative emotion) was significantly associated with emotion inhibition (i.e., ambivalence over emotional expression, thought suppression, and avoidant stress responses). Further, emotion inhibition significantly predicted psychological distress, including depression and anxiety symptoms.) (Reference)

Invalidation goes beyond mere rejection by implying not only that our feelings are disapproved of, but that we are fundamentally abnormal. This implies that there is something wrong with us because we aren't like everyone else; we are strange; we are different; we are weird.

None of this feels good, and all of it damages us. The more different from the mass norm a person is, for example, more intelligent or more sensitive, the more he is likely to be invalidated. When we are invalidated by having our feelings repudiated, we are attacked at the deepest level possible, since our feelings are the innermost expression of our individual identities.

Psychological invalidation is one of the most lethal forms of emotional abuse. It kills confidence, creativity and individuality.

Telling a person she shouldn't feel the way she does feel is akin to telling water it shouldn't be wet, grass it shouldn't be green, or rocks they shouldn't be hard. Each persons's feelings are real. Whether we like or understand someone's feelings, they are still real. Rejecting feelings is rejecting reality; it is to fight nature and may be called a crime against nature, "psychological murder", or "soul murder." Considering that trying to fight feelings, rather than accept them, is trying to fight all of nature, you can see why it is so frustrating, draining and futile. A good guideline is:

First accept the feelings, then address the behavior
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« Reply #52 on: July 26, 2010, 04:41:07 PM »

As this is a validation practice thread I'd like to share my favorite validation resource.

Really important points! Good work.

Here is some reference material that will help.

Understanding Validation in Families [Video]   



Click on graphic to play

Alan E. Fruzzetti, PhD    51 min., 53 sec.    Oct-2008

A recent feedback on the audio:

WOW! Just listened to it. One of the most entertaining and enlightening talks I've listened to in a long, long time (regardless of that I knew of the validation thing before). Really good stuff. Like. Awesome!  Smiling (click to insert in post) Thanks for that.

I believe audio touches different sense in the brain and Fruzzetti is brilliant in being entertaining, on spot and talking about validation without much looking at borderline, without assigning blame and looking at it from all different angles - partners - children - parents. He gives lots, lots of examples. He motivates then what is happening in the different people. He then looks at validation as a tool used in BPD or BPD like relationships (partners, families) and shares some studies they have done and what huge impact validation had when brought into a partnership.

This is an audio to a conference talk but it is very clear, you almost never miss the slides (maybe 5% of the time) and may well go back and listen to it again.

I've done it about 5 times.

Highly recommended  - don't trust me, trust penguin Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

For people who like his style so much that they want to read more, check out his book in the book review section: "The high conflict couple" - an excellent book about DBT for couples. A bit dryer but has roughly 40-50 pages on validation in various chapters.

So any newbie who has not yet tried the practice from the beginning of the thread - listen to the audio and give it a shot. This stuff needs to be practiced and writing helps ordering thoughts and prepares you for real life. Don't be shy !
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« Reply #53 on: July 17, 2011, 07:42:02 PM »

I have been using validation my BPDw for years, and most of the time it helps.

However, a few of our really major issues have apparently only worsened, and in my opinion here is why. I feel the validation about her feelings being - a "reasonable possibility," "others would feel the same way," "there is a kernel of truth to what they are expressing," and "they have a legitimate right to feel the way they do" -  whether true or not, all too often reinforce their bad behavior and erroneous beliefs.

Many times our validation can even be interpreted as apologies.

Example - For years, when dysregulated, my wife  believed she had supported me financially from the beginning of our relationship, I had lied about having no money, and she put up with far more grief from me that I did from her.

I told her many times, these things were not true, she shouldn't stay married to me if she really believed them, and I didn't want to be married to her if she believed them - my emotional boundaries, and beliefs. Any accountant could prove her financial beliefs to be completely false and reversed. We could never discuss the subjects, but the next day or week later when I was her hero, I assumed this was just her dysregulation talking.

Now, I get the strong impression that these beliefs have become permanent.

Maybe the BPD paranoia is rubbing off on me, but it feels as if all the nice things I do and say now, are, in her mind, my way of trying to 'atone for my sins' so to speak - my way of apologizing for my past transgressions. Also her impression of herself seems to be that of a hard working, perfect wife and mother, who has to deal with... .me.

Help? Suggestions? Ideas? Similar experiences - and do I have a 'valid' point - pun intended - about needing different Validation criteria for BPDs?

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« Reply #54 on: July 17, 2011, 10:25:35 PM »

Interesting post.  I wonder about this too, especially the part about 'atoning for my sins' by validating the pwBPD's feelings and not arguing back.  In my situation, validation does seem to prevent escalation much of the time with my uBPDh, but one of his main arguments with me is that I "took him" away from the place he wants to live and that if we could only just move back there, he would be happy and fulfilled, etc.  Reminders (before I came across info on BPD) that he was miserable there too and that it won't solve any of his anger/guilt/regret issues always made things worse.  Now that I have started validating his feelings of hating the place we live and understanding how much he felt a connection to the old place, he rages much less, but it seems that he has taken the validation to mean that I am apologizing for the move (although those are not the words I use) and that I should therefore be responsible for planning our move back ASAP, which he truly believes will be the fix for his problems. 

So do we consider validation inappropriate when the pwBPD has a response that is out of proportion or a misunderstanding of what we are actually saying?  Do we just suck it up and let them assume we are apologizing even if we are not, if progress is (apparently) being made in lowering the dysregulation episodes?
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« Reply #55 on: July 18, 2011, 12:18:33 AM »

Validation is a "huge" part of DBT. It is one of the most powerful things we can do to repair damaged trust and intimacy issues.

Yet it wasn't designed to correct twisted thinking. Nor will it magically get them to consider our views/beliefs/opinions. It won't change anyone's mind. A person who is mentally ill will have messed up thoughts. THey will make unreasonable demands.  In their perception, feelings equal facts.

Now for years she has felt like a victim. That you lied to her and that she financially supported you. For years you argued with her trying to prove her wrong.  Your arguments and facts and reasons and logic didn't change how she felt. Your defensiveness and explanations only pushed her away and created distance and distrust between the two of you. She didnt feel listened to or understood, and she never stopped feeling like a victim.

So now you are validating her emotions... .validation will help her feel understood - it won't change her mind... .

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« Reply #56 on: July 18, 2011, 03:10:16 AM »

Validation is a "huge" part of DBT. It is one of the most powerful things we can do to repair damaged trust and intimacy issues.

I agree with this in principal, however after doing some research I find that I have been validating secondary emotions, which as Marsha Linehan says -

"If the emotional validation is used for secondary emotions, then I interpret this as not therapeutic, because you are “validating the invalid.”

You can read more about secondary emotions below in navy.

If this is correct, then the trick we all need to learn is how to tell the difference between primary and secondary emotions, and to, as Marsha Linehan says, not validate the invalid.

This was my original point in this thread. Patently ridiculous or delusional thinking should not be validated. Apparently this has been covered by the professionals, yet it hasn't filtered down to all of us laymen yet. It seems to me this distinction is extremely important for us all to understand if we are going to use validation for BPDs properly.

Persons with BPD have a lot of twisted erroneous thinking, but we shouldn't validate this twisted thinking, just because they belong to someone we love, or we will be validating the invalid.

We need to look for their primary emotions. In my wife's case it may be "God! I'm always broke, and I make more than my retired husband does, so I must be paying most of our expenses." Now, I could empathize with her being broke and maybe be successful talking her into some financial planning and counseling for us, to help save money. This would reveal the truth to her, from someone other than me.




Last week, I was reading a portion of Dr. Marsha Linehan’s book “Cognitive Behavior Treatment Of Borderline Personality Disorder” and stumbled upon a reference that I had never noticed before. It reads:

Emotional validation strategies contrast with approaches that focus on the overreactivity of emotions or the distorted basis of their generation. Thus, they are more like the approach of Greenberg and Safran (1987), who make a distinction between primary or “authentic” emotions and secondary of “learned” emotions. The latter are reactions to primary cognitive appraisals and emotional responses; they are the end products of chains of feelings and thoughts. Dysfunctional and maladaptive emotions, according to Greenberg and Safran, are usually secondary emotions that block the experience and expression of primary emotions. These authors go on to suggest that “all primary affective emotions provides adaptive motivational information to the organism” (1987, p. 176). The important point here is the suggestion that dysfunctional and maladaptive responses to events are often connected or interwoven with “authentic” or valid responses to these events. Finding and amplifying these primary responses constitute the essence of emotional validation. The honesty of the therapist in applying these strategies cannot be overstressed. If emotional validation strategies are used as change strategies – that is, if lip service is given to validation in order to simply to calm the patient down for the “real work” – the therapist can expect the therapy to backfire. Such honesty, in turn, depends on the therapist’s belief that there is a substantial validity to be found, and that searching for it is therapeutically useful.

This idea is an important one for loved ones of those with BPD because it touches on several points:

~ It acknowledges that emotional validation focuses on “normal” emotional reactions, not “the overreactivity of emotions or the distorted basis of their generation.” That is the way of emotional invalidation, i.e. “You’re overreacting to something trivial. Look at what really happened.” I see that expression from Non-BPs all the time.

~ It points out the differences between primary and secondary emotions. This distinction is extreme useful for Non-BPs. Why? Because most often the anger and rage are secondary emotions (not always) and that is typically what Nons focus on. If the emotional validation is used for secondary emotions, then I interpret this as not therapeutic, because you are “validating the invalid.”

    

~  Probing (gently and compassionately) for the primary emotions seems to be a more effective strategy and those are the emotions that can be validated effectively.

    

~  One has to approach emotional validation as a tool unto itself – without using it as a “change strategy.” That is, “it is ok to feel that, but you have to change the way you feel to be ‘normal’.” That is, bound to backfire.

    

~  If this distinction of primary and secondary emotions – the first being true and “authentic”, the second being dysfunctional and maladaptive – is applied to the concept of mentalization, then the idea within mentalization to use emotional validation to probe for further feelings begins to make more sense. One has to help the BP locate the primary emotion.

www.anythingtostopthepain.com/primary-secondary-emotions/

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« Reply #57 on: July 18, 2011, 04:46:48 AM »

What you are discussing is some of the more detailed validation concepts. The E,F,G that follows after the A,B, C's are conquered  Smiling (click to insert in post)

There are some great books out there that cover this in depth and can help flesh out the subtleties that you are discussing. Much more than what can be covered in a workshop.

Essentially - Yes, we need to be aware that we are targeting the correct emotion to validate. We never validate the invalid translates to "don't tell them you understand why they just murdered someone", or "anyone would punch their boss in the face". Common sense does come into play here.

Validation doesn't mean that you never state how you feel on a topic, it just means that you work to understand the emotions your partner is expressing and chose a time when both of you are calm before you state your own truth. Too often as people first experiment with validation they add that dreaded "but" onto the statement, destroying any good will gained by trying to correct the pwBPD.

"yeah. It sucks being broke all the time, but if you would just learn to follow my detailed spending chart we wouldn't be in this mess"... .destroys any possible chance that the pwBPD will see your point or agree, much less listen to anything further you have to say.

"Yeah. It sucks being broke all the time. I wonder what you/we can do to help plan better"... .changes it from just pure validation into helping the pwBPD consider other options.

This is why we suggest asking questions and not making assumptions if you are confused or can't connect with what emotions your partner is feeling. Don't just fake it to shut them up. Ask questions so that you "can" understand. Learn about what it means to be BPD, how it impacts their feelings, thoughts, behaviors, actions, dysregulation, etc... .develop empathy and compassion.

Validation is a skill that requires practice. It doesn't come naturally to most of us, since we are so focused on the logic and facts aspect, we totally miss the emotions driving the problems in the first place, primary or secondary... .

Validation is also only "one" of the skills all of us need to get better at 

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« Reply #58 on: July 18, 2011, 07:27:17 AM »

I think some of the confusion comes just from living in some of these environments... .when WE are invalidated as much as we often are, up often becomes down, down often becomes up, and things get very confusing.  It's hard.  

I read somewhere that anger itself is generally considered to be a secondary emotion.  That people generally flow through hurt, worry, etc - realize how vulnerable those feelings make them - and then default to an expression of anger.  Considering most dysregulation 'looks' like anger and considering pwBPD don't have a strong enough sense of self to acknowledge - to themselves or others - they are hurt or worried or anything less then superhuman, I would imagine nons around here are seeing and responding to a lot of secondary emotions.  And I guess I can see how that would be invalidating to a pwBPD.  If what they are experiencing really deep down IS hurt, worry, pain, etc - and we are validating anger - they probably recognize at some level that we truly don't get it, them.  

Which is why we don't validate dysregulation... .and why we take timeouts, I would imagine.  Why discussions about feelings work best when the stage is set for them to be able to talk about the primary feelings and not the anger (often directed at us).  

So she says - I have always supported you - in a hostile, accusatory way.  1.  Is she dysregulated?  If so, is this the best time to try to tease out what's really going on?  Or do you need to enforce your own - I won't stick around for abusive talks - boundary.  2.  Is there ANY truth to it which could in fact justify the anger?  Easy to validate truth and accept personal responsibility.  3.  If not, what could really be going on?  Is she worried about finances?  Sad because she is not getting the 'stuff' she wants?  Concerned about a family member finding a job?  I know for us - I don't even need to hit the nail on the head - if I ask and am wrong, she'll still feel safe enough to correct me - with the more primary emotion (which is about 90% of the time based in fear - becomes an easy assumption to make after awhile).  Then its easy to validate that.

(Also important to recognize that such an accusation could be her way of dealing with pain from something completely unrelated to you!  I know for S - when she's upset about something - she'll often find something to accuse me of so she can justify her anger.  This is why getting the heck out of dodge is so important in the moment - we can't sit around and take this stuff and still expect them to focus on the true issues.)
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« Reply #59 on: July 18, 2011, 12:34:41 PM »

I agree with UFN.  The key is to figure out where that belief is coming from.  This doesn't mean their conclusion is right.  It just allows you to hear out what they're saying and make your own decision on what to do next from there.

For example, my wife is regularly upset about money, saying that we're broke.  I asked her why she thinks that, and she says that we don't go out to eat and do various things on a regular basis.  When I asked why she wants to go out to eat and do stuff on the regular basis, she told me that the food comforts her and makes her feel good about herself, and that when we do stuff, she doesn't have to worry about what is on her mind and what to do with our daughter.  In turn, I found out that my wife relies on food to comfort herself because that's the one thing she could do for herself as a child.  I also found out that she's afraid of just being in the house all of the time because her mother never really paid her any mind, and that she was often housebound (save for school) for long stretches of her childhood.  In addition, she's deathly afraid of not knowing what to do with our daughter, since her mother did as little as possible for her.

Of course, I've cleaned up what was a roughly hour long conversation for the purpose of summarizing what happened.  However, the principle stands.  Notice how I went from constantly wanting to go out to issues with how my wife's mother treated her.  Knowing that, I can engage with the core emotions how I wish.  I can take my wife out to someplace she wants to go to.  I can not take her out and have her dysregulate while my daughter and I go to the playground.  I can make a turkey with cheddar sandwich.  Once you know what you're dealing with, you can operate as you wish.

Back to your wife, you need to start asking questions, figuring out what's behind her belief.  From my experience, it might have nothing to do with money.  I've learned that things have a funny way of coming out, if you just ask and listen.  It's easier said that done, but that's the core of validation.
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