"It makes sense that you feel that way."

August 1, 2022
Melissa and I had a great week with Dylan, besides the incredible amounts of Lake-ish fun we had some great conversations, many about mental and emotional health.

One phrase he mentioned being very useful between him and his mom, so much so that it had an accompanying gesture (motioning as if it was a tattoo inscribed along the forearm) was "it makes sense that you feel that way."

I really adore that, because it is very validating with being fully endorsing-- it has a useful ambiguity of whether the confirmed "sense" is strictly objectively and rationally true, or just true within the context of the listener's mental landscape.

It clicks well with my recent observation of how "validation" is the critical thing in so many cases. Especially for negative emotions; for anger, people want to know other folks are on their side, wiling and able to recognize the same unacceptability of some aspect of the world and join in the fight against it, for sadness that the other might mourn alongside, or for almost any emotions; that other people recognize that the feeling is a sensible response, and that the initial feeler is not diminished by having that feeling, or too out of joint with the world.

This scales up to larger groups, of course: the majority of political ads are exercises in fomenting righteous outrage, because mere negative judgement might not be enough to open the purse strings or inspire other action. (This constant sense of helpless outrage gets tiring. No wonder some people are so drawn by promises of people who claim they can fix things.)

Importantly, I also think that the demand for validation scales *down* as well; I'm a big believer in "parts"-type therapeutic models, the ones that point out we are not the consistent, monolithic beings our consciousness tries to pretend we are. For me an emotion flares up from a singular, often non-verbal part. But then my slower, more think-y self has a moment to decide if it's going to put cognitive kindling and fuel on that emotion, or if it's going to decide that a bigger feeling doesn't serve the greater me, and let the emotion die out.

(This flame metaphor may not resonate for everyone, but I see it as useful in modeling other folks, even folks living more intuitively and not as "unemotionally" as I can appear to be going. Like Dylan mentioned he might have a feeling smoldering underground, causing irritation and then flaring up after a few days. Or other people seem to have a semi-constant large flames just barely contained. Or with fear-anxiety, fire fighting is a recurring struggle. But, it makes sense that they feel that way.)

Daddy, swing... take it easy.