Eric’s Sunday Sermon; Validating Feelings
Validating feelings seems real hokey pokey to me. Please validate my feelings? Well the long and the short of validating feelings is that it is a good thing. But why is it so misused? Well that really breaks down as an argument tool. Discounting another’s feeling is a quick route toward disagreement on real issues. Oversimplifying validation of another’s feelings is a quick route to avoiding a real issue. If we can focus on how one feels we can avoid talking about a real issue.
When someone responds to a point of another attacking them and how they expressed their feelings it is lame and does no good. Likewise just responding to a point and not accepting those feelings does no good. Humankind is multidimensional and requires acknowledging that as a truth. If you do acceptance and focus on a point in a loving way, serious issues get resolved. Discount another’s opinion and how they feel about something with anger and you get no resolution except to fight some more.
Huge social issues and familiar issues are heavy duty these days. Politics and religious hot button issues are on the dinner table and next to the water cooler. Seems as though someone put logic over on the shelf and cleared the way for feelings being the motivating factor when facts and rational evaluation should be paramount.
I hate “I hate”. It is a paradox that I just cannot avoid. But I can reflect and not act on that feeling, mine or yours. Would it be possible that validating my feelings of hate could help in resolving differences? We must be able to recognize and respect while perhaps not agreeing. Maybe we only need to say “I get it but can we leave emotion over on the side for a bit and address your solutions to this problem.” “I understand that your feelings are your own, and I can see them but they are not my feelings so can we respect that and move on to discussion?”
Let us note the age old maxim. Your spouse may very much not want you to provide a solution but rather just listen to the rant. There is the most poignant case of simply validating is the right thing to do. Hey, the little boy does not want to hear about why he fell and hurt his knee while it is bleeding. Pretty clearly he needs hugs and Band-Aids which may or may not really help the injury healing deal.
Let us just accept the reality that adult and younger children do not want to deal with a parent’s feelings. They do not want to hear about mom’s hurt feelings or dad’s opinion feelings. That transition takes time and age on behalf of the child. Get one that has no marriage of children of their own and that gap is nearly insurmountable. How can they validate that which they totally cannot relate to from their own experience. That is probably the greatest and most difficult rift there can be.
My dad went to war. My dad was a doctor, and also had 6 children. He on occasion rode a horse to school. He had a Jesuit education. Let us just say that by 23 I still did not really get him. But I really respected his points of view.
Just say that by 25 I had children, a demanding wife, a doctorate, religious education and had lived in places where a car was a full on luxury. Well by golly I started to be able to properly validate his feelings. I could not force it but life experience created a space where we could almost agree on each other’s point of view. By two decades later we actually agreed on far more than not. We no longer had to state our feelings, they were understood. “I know you ‘feel’ strongly about this but let’s look at the facts.”
First we must recognize when we are hurt by another who is just plain ignoring our point of view and our feelings. Back to the adult children. We must get a handle on that. In other words we have to understand our own feelings and that requires loving ourselves. I simply cannot understand your feelings without understanding my own. Sounds like the sometimes silent authoritarian father who just refuses to get in touch with his own feelings.
But look at the small boy. He basically only cares about the feelings of his parents. Isn’t that interestingly humorous? And as they grow into a teenager that is the last thing they care about as they are busy conjuring up avoiding what they do not like and figuring on how to get what they want. It ain’t no longer what mom and dad feel but rather how I can get mom and dad to give me what I want. (Of course that is overly stereotypical – kids are loving and not black and white.)
Just a Little Bit!
Well how do we navigate the above eccentricities and complicated realm of feeling matching up with the practical. And let us never forget to at least make a small effort to validate feelings. Mine and yours. Let us look at the easy ones to realize the answer is found in compassion and love. Come on now, we can do it. We can love and respect our adversaries.
God is great. Or should I say here; god is great. Most discussion about God is really about god. Especially arguments. I feel very strongly to not cram my feelings of God down your throat or try to make you feel as I do. Now Jesus teaches us true and truer that God is love. Nothing can be more clear out of the Bible. Just check it out: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” That is out of 1 John 4. No I do not have a tattoo but it is burnt into my brain.
So we have to use our love and try to understand another’s feelings about God. And atheist is welcome here, call her my adversary. I must love her and to do that I must recognize, evaluate and validate her feelings of God. Clearly this shows us validation. We do not need to agree with our spouse but we must listen and empathize and sympathize – again no need to share his feelings.
What a great place to practice. How important here. Did you know that political science has statistically proven that people vote against more often than for. So as strange as it sounds the current mode is correct. You just feel strongly and condemn the “other” guy and that is a resolution. Same on issues. So we say “I understand how much you hate Bozo, I respect your’re hate.” So perhaps we should talk about an issue so you do not get so distraught. So what does patronizing mean?
We are right back to our first and second paragraphs. Perhaps they seemed out of place. But now we can see that how we approach validation is the most important aspect of all.
Hey now in closing let me tell you that if you validate this piece I will be happy. Even if you disagree. And as you already know. God is great as it is truth that the real God is love. Can I get an amen?