Explanation of how validation and boundaries can work (Joy Anasta)
We had an excellent meeting again on Tuesday night, with counsellor Joy Anasta helping us with setting boundaries for the person with BPD who we love and care for.
There was some discussion about how to set these boundaries, while at the same time still remembering that validation of your loved one’s feeling is important and necessary. Both validation and setting boundaries can live together.
Validation is defined as-
“To acknowledge and accept a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and internal experience as valid and understandable.”
Validation requires empathy and compassion. It does not mean that you agree with his/her thoughts, feelings and behaviours, but it does mean that you accept and acknowledge to the person that their thoughts etc are true for them. They do not have to be true for you. However, validation does not mean no limits.
I often give examples from our experiences with our daughter Melinda. Melinda lives in supported accommodation and one night she had an argument with the staff and rang me very agitated to say that she could no longer live there and if she could not come home to us, then she was going to leave and go and sleep under a bridge. It was winter, freezing cold, and raining. I had just had a session with Joy about setting limits, but more importantly, about trusting Melinda that she could make the right decisions if I let her. I just had to have faith!. Coming home was not an option, neither of course, was sleeping under a bridge. So, with my heart pounding, I validated how upset she must be after her run in with the staff, told her that coming home was not an option and I hoped that she would stay at her accommodation and we could discuss it further in the morning. But I also said the decision was hers, and I trusted that she would make the right decision and then said goodbye. You can imagine how stressful the night was for Bob and me not knowing whether she was OK or not, but the next morning Melinda rang, and told us she had stayed the night, and she now felt better. We had validated her, but kept to our boundary, and more importantly I think, showed her that we trusted her to make a sensible decision.
I hope that helps with what is a really hard thing to get your head around. I’m always happy to hear what you think.
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