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 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.