discover & overcome invalidation in relationships

During our life experiences, we interact with each other on a daily basis, sharing our thoughts, emotions, and opinions. Some will acknowledge your emotions and thoughts, but not necessarily accept or adopt them and that’s completely okay. However, I’m sure some will invalidate those emotions and thoughts, which is when the person completely crosses the line!

How many of us have heard the term “invalidation” when speaking about psychology or sociology? Honestly, growing up I have never heard anyone use or describe the word invalidation when discussing human interactions and emotions. First time hearing about it was in therapy, which changed my life drastically. I began therapy when I was around 25 years old and all the puzzle pieces began falling into place. I never recognized my personal experiences with people invalidating me, stripping me of my identity. Additionally, I want everyone to not shy away from sharing their personal experiences in therapy because the stigma needs to dissipate. Therapy will be beneficial for everyone because it promotes a healthier thinking process.

Invalidation occurs when a person tells you how to feel, what to think and rejecting your expressions of those feelings or thoughts. Sometimes, invalidation happens when people downplay your emotions by comparing their situations over yours, hinting that your emotions are irrelevant, and their situation substantiate the emotions, not yours. Empathy is the solution, being able to share the feelings of another person shows your acceptance of who the person is.

There were several instances when someone had told me, “I don’t know why you’re feeling like that because only you would think of this situation like that”. Sometimes, when trying to express your thoughts, someone would state, “you think that’s bad, wait until you hear my story”. I never wanted to compete. I just wanted understanding.

“Each and every person is experiencing life in different realities, and no two realities are identical.”

I am my own person. My personal life experiences are distinctively unique to me and only me. The way I process my thoughts and emotions are different because each experience of mine impact my perceptions of reality.

I am my own person. My personal life experiences are distinctively unique to me and only me. The way I process my thoughts and emotions are different because each experience of mine impacts my perception of reality.

Never allow anyone to belittle you or make you feel less of a person. Remember these key factors when invalidation occurs in your relationships.

  • Your emotions are only yours because every person experiences life differently, and certain situations will impact each individually uniquely.
  • Never apologize for your feelings nor accept fault for having them to relieve someone of guilt. His/her actions and words have caused you to perceive them as harmful. Your entitlement is to possess an array of emotions.
  • Ignore all or any of the ‘you shouldn’t feel that way’ or ‘you should not think like that’ phrases.
  • Your gender, profession, nationality, and looks are not reasons to discount your perspectives of a given situation.
  • You are not crazy for having these feelings and thoughts. Refuse isolation and manipulation by anyone, convincing you of your expressions as far-fetched or delusional because you are the only person to feel like this.
  • Emotions and thoughts are causations from past and present events, even if you cannot articulate or explain the reasons to have them. And frankly, you do not owe any explanations for your feelings and opinions to anyone.

Once you discover invalidation, you begin to recognize the frequency of its existence. It occurs more often than preferred and can possibly be by anyone – family, friends, lovers, and strangers. Learning about invalidation only makes you stronger and allows you to accept your feelings and thoughts without shame. Please, deny anyone threatening to invalidate your brilliant thoughts and  beautiful emotions.

Key Phrases to Look For:

– you’re wrong to feel/think like that
– you shouldn’t feel/think that way
– I’ll show you what it really means to feel ….
– nobody feels/thinks like that, only you would..
– you’re being dramatic, don’t feel/think…
– I don’t know why you would feel/think because this has to happen…
– you have no rights to feel/think with your situation, education, upbringing, or etc…
– you don’t even know what _____ feels like…

“Listen to me when I speak and acknowledge the contents of my speech, but do not discredit my words for your lack of empathy.” – ngo

Feel free to share a personal experience of yours; I would love to read it, acknowledge it, and reply with sincerity, xoxo.

dearly yours,
the chatterbox

sharing is caring - spread the love, xoxo

14 Comments

  1. Kieu

    February 22, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    this post reminds me of the time it was me, you, & christina eating in bellaire, & we were catching up & sharing stories about our horrible boyfriends at the time. at the end of the topic, you said something along the lines of, “it sounds like we’re competing with each other to see who has the worst boyfriend.” it wasn’t my intention to do that, & i was only trying to empathize with you by relating, but it was a habit-changing moment for me, & i’ve been aware of it ever since. but if i could backtrack to that moment, how could i have offered my support & understanding without invalidating your feelings?

    1. thi

      February 23, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      I really don’t remember the details of the conversation. The best thing anyone can say to a person is “I’m sorry”. An apology goes a long way, and it’s not like the apology where you a mistake occurs. Saying “I’m sorry” shows empathy. It conveys your understanding of the situation by demonstrating your effort to share those feelings. In other words, saying sorry tells me you think of my situation is unfortunate and you will have similar feelings for alike circumstances. I’m not sure if this reply even makes sense. I cannot articulate how you can show support because everyone may need a different kind of support. Thank you for taking the moment and sharing the memories with me. I know you had no malice intents in the conversation, and there are no hard feelings here. xoxo

  2. ohmummymia

    February 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    I hope I’m not devaluing my husband feelings:) nice read thanks for sharing it

  3. katrinagehman

    February 22, 2017 at 11:43 am

    great information. i try not to devalue someone else’s feelings.

  4. OvenStruck

    February 22, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Very powerful post and a post that more people need to read. Recognizing how you speak to others and the damage words play is a huge step in learning how to empower people.

    1. thi

      February 23, 2017 at 10:42 pm

      Thank you. I completely agree with you. Words hurt, causing many damages to oneself- mentally, physically and spiritually. Live to love, xoxo

  5. Brandi Kennedy

    February 21, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    This is a powerful post – it spoke very closely to me, as I’m just (finally) leaving the last in a string of “mildly” abusive relationships. I’m working now on cleaning up the rest of my world – including several invalidating friends. Apparently, my people-picker is jacked.

    1. thi

      February 23, 2017 at 10:40 pm

      Thank you. Yes! It’s always great to be surrounded by empathetic and supportive loved ones. Thank you for openly sharing your experience with me. I’m glad you’re taking time for yourself, distancing from all the negativity. I’m sure you don’t you have a jacked up people-picker. I just believe you’re probably really kind and give people the benefit of the doubt. xoxo

  6. duffelbagspouse

    February 20, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I had a friend that I had to let go because it seemed she went out of her way to invalidate me. I figured out she was unhappy and couldn’t be happy for me either.

    1. thi

      February 23, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Thank you for sharing your personal experience with me. It’s hard to continue any relationship when you feel cheated of your feelings. Seems like she tried stealing your happiness and I’m glad you didn’t allow her to! Best wishes, xoxo

  7. eazynazy

    February 20, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    no one understand you except you 🙂

  8. Richard_eCoursesXYZ (@Richard_eCourse)

    February 20, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Validation is one of the most important parts of being in a relationship. My last LT relationship ended because I never felt validated but that was because of the lack of validating statements. She never put me down, just never lifted me up either.

    1. thi

      February 23, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience. I’m really sorry to hear about your relationship. You deserve someone to acknowledge and support you. Warm regards, xoxo

  9. agentizerozerosetter

    February 20, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    It’s true,everyone of us has his/her feelings!They belong from experience, sensibility…,no one can really understand them,only us!

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