We looked at the importance of validation in previous lessons, the importance of being acknowledged and having our feelings, emotions, thoughts or behaviours acknowledged and accepted. Validation can lead on to problem-solving, which is a key skill to learn in DBT.
For a lot of people, problem-solving is in itself validating – they see the problem and solve it. But for those of us with emotional sensitivity, that isn’t always the case.
As BPS causes us to doubt our self-worth and lower our self-esteem, along with emotional sensitivity or intensite, we can see problems much easier than solutions. On some days, we may feel there are no possible solutions, and will focus solely on the problems.
Imagine you are upset because you had a falling-out with a friend. You are telling someone close to you about how you feel hurt and betrayed, and that you worry your friend no longer likes you and wants to be your friend.
The person you are telling, let’s call her Susan, says to you that you should go to your friend, apologise, make up and move on. Susan hasn’t acknowledged that you feel hurt and upset, or that you are concerned with your friendship being over. She has immediately jumped to a quick fix for the situation. It can feel like Susan is telling you that this is an easy problem to fix, dismissing how you feel and ultimately making you feel worse.
But if Susan were to acknowledge your feelings, and empathise, before asking how you think this could be involved, you would be spared further pain and feel validated and acknowledged.
You will find that you DBT therapist will carefully balance acceptance, midnfulness, validation and problem-solving throughout your therapy. You will work on approaches to problem-solving and making cope-ahead plans, so that when problems arise you are able to cope with them much better.