I came up with an acronym that helps me remember how to validate, and has helped me to teach my parents how to validate me.
The acronym is “MUSIC”:
- M – Makes sense
- U – Understand
- S – Sounds like
- I – Imagine
- C – Can see
“It makes sense that you’re feeling that way, based on what has happened to you in the past.” “It makes sense that you’re angry because they were rude to you.”
“I understand that you are hurt.” “I understand that this has been a difficult time for you.” “I understand that you want some alone time.”
“It sounds like this experience really impacted you.” “It sounds like you’re feeling sad — is that right?”
“I can imagine that you might be overwhelmed.” “I imagine that this might bring up painful memories.”
“I can see that you are struggling.” “I can see how much you care.” “I can see how hard you’re trying.”
If you want to validate someone but don’t know how, just think: “Validation is MUSIC to my ears!” M-makes sense; U-understand; S-sounds like; I-imagine; C-can see.
Validation can feel quite, well, validating, which is often a good feeling of being understood, heard, and acknowledged. It can also make people feel more connected and close to each other. Hence the phrase, “Validation is music to my ears,” because it often feels very good to hear.
Validation also helps with emotion regulation. It helps people make sense of what they are experiencing, which can be calming. Putting a label (like, “fear”) on an emotion has been shown to decrease the intensity of the emotion. So, validation can help to regulate emotions. You don’t need someone else to validate you (though it is very nice and can help a lot). You can validate yourself, too. “I am feeling sad. It makes sense that I am feeling sad because I am missing out on things.” I try to do this, and when I do, it helps.
Other posts on DBT:
- DBT Skills Summary
- The Emotions and Opposite Action
- Examples of DEARMANs: Asking for what you need
- How to be non-judgmental (towards yourself)
- Nightmare Plan (and ice dives)
And other coping skills: