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Validation is a Basic Human Need.

Validation is a Basic Human Need.

I am so excited to write about Validation. I am passionate about validation and want to teach it from the rooftops. I believe it is a basic human need. We all need to be validated. We can validate those around us as well as ourselves. The information in this post came from Michael S. Sorensen’s book “I Hear You” I highly recommend it. 

Validation is the quickest, simplest and most powerful way to improve a relationship. Any relationship. Romantic or platonic. With children, siblings, parents, friends, co-workers or your spouse. And most importantly the relationship with yourself. Validation is key! 

Here are some things that validation helps with: 

  • Calms (and sometimes even eliminate) the concerns, fears, or uncertainties of others. This is especially helpful if your significant other is upset, if you’re dealing with irate customers or coworkers, or if you’re trying to reason with young children.
  • Adds a boost to others’ excitement and happiness. This is an obvious gift to the other person, but studies have also shown that validating the positive experiences of others can drastically improve connection and satisfaction in a relationship.
  • Provides support and encouragement to others, even when you don’t know how to fix the problem. There is great confidence in knowing you can help someone in any situation, regardless of your own experience or expertise.
  • More easily show love, understanding, and compassion in your intimate relationships. Research (and common sense) show that this skill is critical to lasting, happy relationships.
  • Help others feel safe and comfortable confiding in you. This promotes deeper, more meaningful connection and increases others’ affinity toward you.
  • Avoid or quickly resolve arguments. Instead of butting heads and going in circles, you’ll save time, frustration, and headache by knowing how to calm the other party and make your point heard.
  • Give advice that sticks. When you understand and validate others, they become significantly more open to your advice, feedback, and/or assurance.
  • Improves your negotiations. Whether in business or any other area of life, validation helps you disarm your counterpart and more quickly reach a deal that you both feel great about.

The change when you are validated is almost tangible. It’s amazing the shift that takes place mentally and emotionally when we are validated. Here are 4 steps to validate.

  1. Listen Empathically
  2. Validate the Emotion
  3. Offer Advice or Encouragement
    (if appropriate)
  4. Validate the Emotion Again

Step 1: Listen Empathically

Give your full attention. If you’re distracted, let the other person know and ask to talk at a later time. When you are available to talk, close your laptop, turn off the TV, and keep your attention on the conversation at hand.

This situation comes up with my kids a lot. I will be in the middle of a young women’s meeting or cooking dinner and instead of just blowing them off I let them know that I want to listen to them but I’m busy and we can talk later. The key is not forgetting later! 

Invite them to open up. If you suspect someone wants to talk about something but isn’t comfortable initiating the conversation, try asking a simple question like, “You seem upset. What’s up?” “Oh man that would be so hard. Want to talk about it?” 

Be observant. As much as 70 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Pay close attention to the other person’s tone of voice and body language to better understand them.

Match their energy. If the other person is happy or excited, then smile, laugh, and share in the thrill. If they are discouraged or sad, then be respectful and speak in a softer, more compassionate manner.

Offer micro validation. Offer short comments such as “no way!”, “Seriously?”, or “I’d feel that way too” to help the other person feel comfortable sharing. This lets them know that you are listening, withholding judgment, and seeing things from their perspective.

Don’t try to fix it. Refrain from offering advice, feedback, or assurance until step 3. Avoid comments such as “at least . . . ”, “you should . . . ”, or “that’s not true.”

In a situation where a friend (or daughter) tells you that she’s fat it’s tempting to say “That’s not true!” and dismiss the conversation because you don’t want her to entertain that thought. But you didn’t uncover why they think they are fat and you didn’t change their mind with that one statement. The truth is they are going to keep thinking they are fat after you claim “that’s not true” and what’s worse is they won’t view you as someone they can open up to. What would be better is to let them know you heard them and then ask questions to get to know what is making them feel that way. From there you can validate. 

Step 2: Validate the Emotion

Validate their emotion. Once there’s a pause in the conversation or the other person is done sharing, validate them more fully. This is best done by 1) acknowledging the emotions they’ve expressed, and 2) offering justification for feeling those emotions.

Validate, even if you disagree. Not only is it possible to validate someone you disagree with, it’s advantageous to do so. When you validate the other person, they become significantly more likely to listen to a differing opinion or advice. Once you show that you truly hear them, they will be much more likely to hear you.

Studies have shown that people don’t move on until they feel heard. If a person doesn’t feel heard they won’t move on and hear a different opinion because they are stuck on the fact that no one heard theirs. Think about it. Have you ever seen this happen in an argument? 

Not sure what the other person is feeling? Ask. A simple question such as “How are you feeling about all this?” or “I imagine you’re pretty upset?” is often enough to get the clarity you need to validate.

If you can relate, consider letting them know. Use phrases such as “I can relate” or “I had a similar experience” instead of “I know exactly how you feel.” Be sure to turn the focus back to them after sharing your experience.

If you can’t relate, let them know. Acknowledging that you haven’t been in someone else’s shoes and don’t know exactly how they feel can be incredibly validating.

Tell the truth. Resist the urge to lie to make someone feel better. Instead, acknowledge the truth, validate their emotions, then provide comfort and assurance in step 3.

Step 3: Offer Advice or Encouragement (if Appropriate)

Offering feedback or advice is entirely optional. Perhaps someone has shared an exciting or proud moment, or perhaps you simply have no advice to give. Validation is healing in and of itself. It is not always necessary or appropriate to give advice.

Avoid giving unsolicited feedback. Just because someone is sharing a difficult experience doesn’t mean they are looking for advice. Determine whether they are open to receiving feedback by either 1) asking what they are expecting from you (e.g., “How can I help?”), or 2) asking permission to give advice (e.g., “I have a few thoughts on the matter. May I share?”).

If you do give feedback, lead with a validating statement. Even though you just offered validation in step 2, prefacing your feedback with one more validating statement will reiterate the fact that you’ve heard them and are connected with their experience.

Use “and” instead of “but.” Doing so will help you avoid inadvertently negating your validation, comments, etc.

Listen to the difference: “The sleep deprivation that comes with a new baby is hard, but you will get through it.” vs. “The sleep deprivation that comes with a new baby is so hard and I know that you will get through it.” 

Avoid Absolutes. When giving difficult feedback, replace absolute terms such as “always” and “never” with softer (and often more accurate) alternatives such as “often” or “rarely.” If you do choose to use an absolute term, lead with “I think,” “I feel,” etc. instead of “you.”

Step 4: Validate Again

Re-validate the emotion. Whether you’ve given advice in step 3 or not, work in one final bit of validation at the end of the conversation. Doing so reiterates the fact that you hear and understand the other person and ends the conversation on a positive, emotionally uplifting note.

Validate the vulnerability. Sharing personal thoughts, experiences, or emotions can be difficult, uncomfortable, and even scary. If someone opens up to you, thank them for it and validate the fact that doing so can be quite difficult.

In certain situations, steps 1 and 2 (Listening Empathically and Validating the Emotion) may be enough. At other times, you may go through the whole set multiple times. Every situation will be different. You’ll know what feels natural and genuine in the moment and, with practice, you’ll find that validation becomes second nature.

A huge part of Self-Compassion is validating yourself. Not only do you see yourself in a clear light but you are able to validate yourself. In my self compassion workbook you go through the process of uncovering the reason you are critical of yourself and you learn how to soften that inner voice. On day 6 in particular you learn to reframe and validate. 

I hope you pay attention to the validation that happens or doesn’t happen around you. I hope you are able to validate yourself and those around you. I promise it will change your relationship with yourself and all your other relationships.

Check out Michael S. Sorensen’s book, blog and podcast for great information on validation.
Self-Compassion Vs. Making Excuses

Self-Compassion Vs. Making Excuses

When I first learned about Self-Compassion I thought it was just making excuses. I hated excuses! I was one that wanted results and wanted accountability when results didn’t happen. I was hard on myself and those around me. I held everyone to a high standard and when I was disappointed I would always think “Well, I better do it myself.” When I fell short I would criticize myself and vow to do better.

Then Self-Compassion entered my life and I gave it a try. I was blown away at how compassion motivated me and put things into perspective for me. It wasn’t making excuses. It was far from it actually. Let me explain.

Self-compassion takes responsibility and requires accountability. You are mindful of your actions and you own up to them. You can accept that your behavior was bad without thinking that you are bad. 

Excuses are when we blame another person or a circumstance for our behavior. It’s the opposite of taking accountability for our actions. We feel shame and dismiss our behavior based on our excuse. 

Excuses never lead to true change. Excuses lead to a cycle of shame and co-dependency based on outside circumstances. 

Self-compassion on the other hand does lead to true change because motivation comes naturally when you are kind and compassionate to yourself. You view yourself as an imperfect human being who makes mistakes and can acknowledge them and also correct them. Self-compassion allows you to be objective and honest with yourself because you know you are good and your worth doesn’t change.

I urge you to try Self-Compassion. Give it a shot. You will immediately reap the benefits of being kind to yourself and so will the people around you.

Get started with my 15 Day Self-Compassion Workbook and begin your journey to build inner strength, accept yourself, and thrive in life.

5 Winter Hiking Tips

5 Winter Hiking Tips

It might be obvious that hiking in the winter is different than the summer, but I’m going to point it out anyway. Winter hiking requires you to pack your bag differently and think twice about which trails you hike.

Here are 5 tips for having a great experience hiking during the cold months. 

  • Leave a trip itinerary with a friend who knows who to call if you are late in returning
  • It gets dark earlier. Plan to hike earlier in the day and always bring a headlamp.
  • Wear layers and proper footwear. Invest in waterproof boots to keep your feet warm and dry. Plan ahead and know whether you might need snowshoes or yaktrax. Dressing in layers makes it possible to shed layers (to avoid sweating) when hiking and add layers when stopping to rest.
  • Eat and drink frequently. Dehydration hastens the onset of hypothermia. Do not underestimate the amount of food and water that you’ll need. Snowshoeing, for example, burns about 600 calories an hour.  
  • Check avalanche conditions at   The trails you do regularly in the summer are different in the winter. The direction the slope is facing, the type of snow pack, wind etc are all conditions that affect avalanches. Always check the website before you go. 
Dripping Rock

Dripping Rock

Dripping Rock is a hidden gem in Spanish Fork, Utah. The trail starts on the south side of the road next to the Spanish Oaks Golf Course. There is a small parking lot for you to park and begin. The trail runs alongside the river with several options to go down to the water throughout.

You can go down to the river early on your walk or wait until the bridge. Both are really fun options. We chose to go down early on our hike and make our way through the river, stopping at all the areas the rock drips. The kids were in heaven.

I recommend water shoes or hiking sandals. Walking in the river is really fun but the rocks make shoes necessary. It’s not difficult to walk in the water. My three year old did great. The water stays shallow and slow moving the entire walk up to the bridge.

If you aren’t interested in the swings or jumping off the little waterfall you can stay down river where the rock dips. Less crowded and lots of room to play.

After playing at the dripping rock for awhile, we decided to go the bridge and find the swings. It’s only .7 mile from the parking lot to the bridge.

We ended up spending the most time at the bridge. My kids couldn’t get enough of the swing and the jump.

When it was time to head back home they all asked if we could come back the next day. Dripping Rock is our new favorite place to play in the summer heat.

What I took on my Backpacking trip in the Tetons

What I took on my Backpacking trip in the Tetons

Here is everything that I brought with me on my epic 4 day backpacking trip in the Tetons. (Minus food)

1. Beanie. I have this cute Carhartt one from Amazon.

2. Sunscreen. Travel size and on a carabiner is the best. Everyone used my sunscreen because it was clipped on the outside of my backpack and was always accessible.

3. Outfit #1. Athleta t-shirt with sleeves. Sleeves were really nice because they saved my shoulders from the backpack rubbing on my skin. Columbia zip-off pants/shorts. I bought my pants from Amazon. I’ve been avoiding the zip-off pants/shorts for years but finally gave in and bought a pair. I’m so glad I did. Pants and shorts in one was very convenient. I highly recommend them for camping/backpacking.

4. Wilderness Wash. Laundry soap, dish soap, body wash, and shampoo all in one. I never washed my clothes or my hair during this particular Teton trip but I used this to wash my dishes and it worked great. I ended up putting a small amount in a different container to save space and weight. This bottle will last several adventures.

5. Pistil hat. This is my favorite hat. Cute and comfortable. I hung this on the outside of my bag.

6. First Aid kit. I got this small and portable first aid kit on Amazon. I added some Tylenol and ibuprofen to the kit.

7. Outfit #2. Athleta t-shirt with sleeves. Nike spandex shorts.

8. Smart Wool Socks. I brought two pairs of smart wool socks.

9.100% deet bug spray. Travel size to save space.

10. Camping bowl and spork. These are silicone and fold down flat.

11. Water Filter. I carried 2 liters of water each day. Each night I would have to filter water from a stream for cooking and for my water the next day. It would be impossible to do a backpacking trip without a water filter.

12. Jet Boil. A jet boil is defiantly something to save up for and purchase. It boils water in one minute and is perfect for meals, hot chocolate, etc. Light and small this is a necessary backpacking item.

13. Goal Zero solar panel. This is how I charged my phone and Garmin GPS. I hooked it onto the outside of my pack and it charged while I hiked. It was awesome!

14. Garmin GPS mini. This garmin tracked my miles, allowed me to send text messages and my location to my husband each day even when I didn’t have service. This garmin also has a SOS feature where if I ever get into trouble I can send out a message and the authorities will be notified.

15. Down Coat. This particular coat is my favorite and I’ve blogged about it before. This coat keeps me warm all winter long and is versatile for all of my different adventures. It packs down small and is lightweight making it the perfect backpacking coat.

16. Black Diamond Headlamp. Another camping necessity.

17. Big Agnes Backpacking Tent: This tent is amazing. 2 person, ultra-lightweight, easy to set up, and dual doors.

18. Backpacking Exped Sleeping Pad. This pad rolls up small and is ultra-lightweight. Insulated to keep you warm on cold nights. Comes with a pump bag to inflate quickly.

19. Backpacking blow up pillow. Packs down tiny enough to fit in my sleeping bag and not take up any extra room.

20. Rain Fly: This is something you hope you don’t need to use but always want to have. This will keep your pack and everything inside it dry if it rains.

21. Rope: This is important to hang your food in a tree to keep animals at a distance. I brought a small 30 foot paracord. I never used it because I had a bear canister the entire trip. If you are going somewhere that requires a bear canister I would leave the rope at home.

22. Camelbak Water Bladder: I chose to go with a 3 liter bladder but I found that I only drank 2 liters each day.

23. Backpacking Sleeping Bag: This is my favorite sleeping bag. It is ultra-lightweight, sized for women, and keeps me extremely warm. With a temperature rating that goes down to 15-degrees I found myself warm each night only sleeping in my sports bra and shorts.

24. Multi Tool: I used this tool several times during my trip. You never know when you will need a knife, pliers or any of the other tools this set includes. Always a good idea to bring tool along.

25. Columbia Pack-able Rain Jacket: I forgot to take a picture of my jacket but if you follow me on social media at all you know I never hike with out this jacket. It’s waterproof, lightweight design packs into your hand pocket for convenience and it is the perfect jacket when a coat is too much. I use mine ALL the time!

26. Hiking Poles: I also forgot to take a picture of my hiking poles. These are the poles I have. They are perfect for summer hiking and winter skiing. (Comes with attachments for both.)

27. Osprey Women’s Aerial AG 55 Backpack: This is the backpack I have. It is a 55-liter backpack and comes with a convertible top lid day pack which is a feature I have used on each of my backpacking trips. It’s nice to have a day pack to explore without the weight and bulk of the big pack. This pack is designed for women and has waist straps to keep the weight off your shoulders. It has pockets galore and easy access to your phone or snacks on your waist. One of my favorite things about this Osprey pack is that it comes with a lifetime warranty. That means if anything breaks on it they will repair it or replace it! And right now it is $100 off!

These are great items to save up for and ask for gifts.

I hope you get to adventure soon!

Wind Caves: Logan, UT

Wind Caves: Logan, UT

Finding a beautiful trail that leads to a great destination is key to making a hike enjoyable. The Wind Caves Trail does just that. The trailhead is located above Cache Valley in Logan Canyon and leads to stunning views of natural arches and caves overlooking the valley. The hike is just under 4 miles long and is surrounded by wild flowers and large trees that offer just enough shade to stave away the heat. 

As we began hiking the trail the women chatted with one another about their hobbies, families, careers, and the people they love. Having just met one another at the trail head they were curious about each other’s lives. Some of them had come with a friend or sister but most of them had come alone. The fear of not knowing if they would find someone to connect with quickly dissipated. All of the women instantly opened their hearts to one another and began to find a common ground and connected.

Along the trail there were portions that were a bit more difficult as it was narrow with a cliff on each side. For those women who had come without much hiking experience beforehand they put their best foot forward and kept hiking even though they worried about their ability to reach the end of the trail. They pushed themselves physically and were delighted to see the view at the top of the climb.

There is something remarkable that happens to us when we force ourselves to do hard things. Women had come not knowing if they would make a friend or be able to endure the hike. Having to face both of those two fears in the same moment brought about an inner strength that connected them. Within a mile up the trail new friendships had been made and courage was found.

At the top of the trail we reached the wind caves. We climbed the arches, examined the rock formations, and explored the caves as we freed our minds of the worries of the world. It was exhilarating to stand atop the arch with narrow rock below our feet. We then relaxed and enjoyed the spectacular vistas. Being in nature had a powerful impact on our minds as we realized how big the Earth really is and truly see the beauty of the trees, the flowers, the blue sky, and most importantly the people we experienced it all with.