How to Deal with Invalidation
Invalidation is a form of emotional abuse that impacts a person’s self-esteem, making them feel insignificant and unworthy. It can come from various sources like family members, friends, or even strangers. Invalidation can range from subtle to outright blatant in its delivery. It can manifest in different ways, such as belittling emotions and dismissing opinions or experiences.
Living with invalidation can negatively impact people’s mental stability, making them feel anxious, depressed, and trapped in their own minds. Learning how to deal with this type of emotional abuse is crucial to preserving one’s mental wellbeing. In this article, we will discuss what invalidation is, the signs and effects of invalidation, and how to cope with it.
Invalidation happens when people do not acknowledge or trivialize another’s thoughts and feelings. It can come from individuals, groups or even societal norms or expectations. Below are the individual and societal factors that may contribute to invalidation:
- Self centered personalities
- Inability to empathize with others
- Limited capacity to understand emotions
- Low self-esteem which makes them seek power over others as a means of validation
- Narrow gender roles expectation for both males and females where it is considered feminine for females to express emotions but seen as weak for males.
- Patriarchal values that dismiss emotions.
- Cultural norms where certain emotional expressions are frowned upon.
Signs of Invalidation
If you notice any of the following signs from yourself or someone around you, it could be a sign of invalidation:
Physical and Behavioural signs:
- Experiencing physical pain
- Dissociation or zoning out
- Engaging in self-harm
- Avoidance of emotional triggers
Emotional and Mental Signs:
- Increased anxiety
- Reduced self-esteem
- Desire for isolation
- Sense of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Mistrust in one’s perception and judgment
- Prolonged irritability or anger episodes.
Effects of Invalidation
Invalidation may have both short-term as well as long-term consequences on a person’s well-being. These come in various forms as outlined below:
- Inability to cope with emotions.
- Anxiety and depression due to self-doubt.
- Difficulty setting boundaries and asking for help.
- Migraines and headaches.
- Eating disorders and addiction disorders.
Common Types of Invalidation
Invalidation can happen in different forms. Below are common types of invalidation that you or someone around you might face:
This is where a person’s emotions are disregarded or dismissed as unimportant. Examples include:
- Belittling or Ridiculing Emotions:
- Being Dismissive of Feelings:
Intellectual Invalidation :
This type of invalidation disregards people’s opinions and experiences, making them feel undervalued or insignificant. Examples include:
- Ignoring Ideas or Opinions:
- Not acknowledging Experiences or Knowledge:
This invalidation type happens when a person’s very existence is disrespected or their identity disregarded. Examples include:
- Disregarding Someone’s Existence or Identity
- Not Respecting Individual Differences:
Coping with Invalidation
Facing invalidation can be challenging. Here are some coping strategies to deal with it:
Identifying the source of invalidation and taking action accordingly:
Identifying the source of invalidation is the first step towards healing from it.
Communication Strategies For Dealing With Invalidators
Setting boundaries is holding someone accountable for their actions and having a clear understanding of what you want and do not want. To achieve effective boundary-setting techniques, follow these guidelines:
Guidelines for setting boundaries:
Communication Techniques for Assertiveness:
Being assertive is communicating your thoughts effectively without hurting or dismissing someone.
Key Skills for Effectively Asserting Yourself Include:
- Expressing your needs clearly,
- Avoiding negations or judgmental statements,
- Holding your ground without attacking others’ opinions
Practicing Validation Towards Others :
Validating others goes a long way in fostering healthy relationships, empathy and understanding both between you and other people. Three ways you can practice validation include:
Active Listening :
Active listening involves paying attention to the speaker rather than just waiting for a turn to express yourself.
Putting oneself in other people’s shoes makes it easier to sympathize with them.
This involves providing uplifting words that show appreciation for their efforts or opinions.
Building Resilience Against Invalidation:
Below are ways to build resilience against invalidation:
Relying on Support Networks:
Reach out to friends and people who support and encourage you.
Building self-confidence is important in dealing with invalidators. Learn ways of adopting a positive outlook on yourself and your surroundings.
Engaging in Self-reflection, Mindfulness and Meditation:
Incorporating reflective practices like mindfulness or meditation can help in coping with emotional triggers.
Seeking Professional Help
When to Seek Professional Help: Suppose you find yourself struggling with invalidation despite trying the above tips. In that case, it might be time to seek professional help. Listed below are some professionals that can help.
Types of Professionals Who Can Help Include:
- Life Coaches
Invalidation can be debilitating if left unaddressed. However, with the right knowledge and techniques, it is possible to cope with invalidation and its effects. We have discussed several strategies for dealing with invalidation, such as setting boundaries, practicing validation towards others, and seeking professional help when necessary. Remember that seeking support is healthy; do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dealing with Invalidation
What is invalidation?
Invalidation is when someone disregards or denies another person’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
What are some examples of invalidation?
- Telling someone “you’re overreacting” when they express their emotions
- Minimizing someone’s struggles by saying “it could be worse”
- Ignoring someone’s boundaries and preferences
How can invalidation affect a person?
Invalidation can have negative impacts on an individual’s self-esteem, mental health, and relationships. It can also make it difficult for the person to trust others and feel confident in their own experiences.
What are some ways to respond to invalidation?
- Assertiveness: Speak up and express how you feel about being invalidated.
- Validation: Validate your own feelings and experiences, even if others do not.
- Boundaries: Set clear boundaries with people who disregard your needs and feelings.
Can invalidation be intentional?
Sometimes, yes. People may invalidate others as a means of control or manipulation. Other times, it may be unintentional due to a lack of understanding or empathy.
How can I avoid invalidating others?
- Empathy: Try to understand and acknowledge the other person’s perspective.
- Active listening: Listen without interrupting and show that you are paying attention.
- Respect: Respect others’ boundaries, feelings, and experiences.
What kind of professional help is available for dealing with invalidation?
Therapy or counseling can provide a safe space to explore the effects of invalidation and learn healthy coping strategies. It may be helpful to seek out a therapist who specializes in trauma or interpersonal relationships.
Dealing with Invalidation: 4 Key Takeaways
Invalidation is a frustrating experience that can leave us feeling powerless and uncertain about ourselves. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with invalidation that can help us feel more confident and resilient.
1. Recognize invalidation when it happens.
Invalidation can take many forms, including dismissive comments, belittling remarks, and ignoring your feelings or experiences. It’s important to recognize these behaviors so you can address them directly.
2. Validate yourself.
You don’t need external validation to know your worth or value as a person. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments whenever you feel invalidated by others.
3. Set boundaries.
If someone consistently invalidates you despite your efforts to communicate your needs, it may be necessary to set boundaries or limit contact with that person. You have the right to protect your emotional wellbeing.
4. Seek support.
Having a support system can make a big difference in coping with invalidation. Reach out to trusted friends or family members, join a support group, or consider therapy if you need additional guidance and encouragement.
Remember that invalidation is not a reflection of your worth or value as a person. By recognizing it, validating yourself, setting boundaries, and seeking support, you can move past the frustration of invalidation and cultivate greater resilience in the face of adversity.