Inspiration This Week: Follow Up On Validation Post

Remember last week where we talked about how to validate a loved one? Well now that we know how to validate others in a meaningful way, I'd also like to take a moment and talk about the effects of invalidation. We want to increase our validation of others, but just as much I hope we can learn to recognize invalidation, and even better, teach ourselves how to recovery properly from it.

Theme This Week: Invalidation

Invalidation is when someone dismisses or rejects your thoughts and feelings as if to say your feelings are either wrong or they don't matter. It can be intentional, but oftentimes it is intentional and coming from someone who means well, but just did not quite get things right. Here are some example statements that are invalidating:

  • It could be worse
  • You're overreacting
  • It's not that bad
  • I don't see the problem
  • I don't want to have this conversation
  • Don't take it so personally
  • Just let it go
  • Everything happens for a reason

Invalidation can also be nonverbal. A person can invalidate you when they are not actively listening with good eye contact, rolling their eyes, or playing on their phone. Someone can invalidate you by jumping into problem solving rather than just staying with the emotions. 

Regardless of whether the invalidation was intentional or not, it still hurts either way. And here are some negative impacts of invalidation:

  • Confusion or mistrust of your own emotional experiences
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Decreased willingness in sharing emotions with others
  • Impulsive actions
  • Developing or intensifying mental health symptoms problems as anxiety and depression

In fact, early childhood experiences of repeated invalidation is a marker for mental health disorders such as borderline personality disorder.

Okay Dana, we get it, invalidation is really damaging, but what do we do with it? The good news is we CAN recover from invalidation by staying committed to validating ourselves. Here are some tips for recovering from an invalidating comment when you notice it:

  • Check the facts- separate out assumptions and judgments from facts. Someone's opinion is just that, a judgement or an assumption, NOT a fact. So therefore you do not have to get sucked into them.
  • Take responsibility for the behaviors and responses to the emotions when appropriate
  • Remind yourself that just because someone does not understand us does NOT take away the validity of our experiences. Your feelings are valid.
  • Validate yourself by utilizing the tips in last week's post. Acknowledge and validate that being invalidated by someone, especially someone close, can be really hurtful. As well as validate your original emotional experience. Be the person you need and treat yourself like someone you love.

Challenge This Week: Recognize Invalidation and Validate Yourself

Pay close attention to your conversations and interactions with others. I'm going to guess that if you walk away from an interaction feeling less than stellar, I bet there was some invalidation going on. So see if you can recognize the moments where you were on the receiving end of invalidation. Don't let that go unchecked. While we cannot change other people's responses, we can always improve how we listen and respond to ourselves. So when you recognize that moment of invalidation, use the tips from last week to validate both the original experience and the invalidating moment. These are those unchecked moments that fester within us and build resentment towards others and distrust in ourselves, so let's get ahead of it!

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