The Power of Invalidation

 

Let me start this article by saying that we all exhibit some kind of invalidation onto our loved ones without realizing the dangerous effects of such an act on their psychological formation and well-being. Verbal communication is the key method through which we humans interact with one another but what happens when this mode becomes a medium for manipulation and emotional abuse?! In fact, invalidation is nothing but a type of rejection that can lead to the latter. Well, having that said, most of us do it out of mere disagreement with no intention to harm the other person’s feelings yet, it can be the most damaging type of disagreement.

hurt-or-heal

Have you heard any of the following sentences before?

  1. “You’re over-reacting.”
  2. “That’s totally irrational.”
  3. “There’s no reason to be upset.”
  4. “Don’t be so upset about this.”
  5. “Come on, cheer up.”
  6. “You’re really overreacting!”
  7. “It’s no big deal, you need to get over it.”
  8. “It’s can’t be that bad — think of how bad other people have it.”
  9. “Calm down, there’s no reason to worry.”
  10. “You’re just too sensitive, lighten up.”

Well, as common as these sentences sound, they are dangerous disapprovals. This emotional invalidation has a number of negative consequences, simply, because our emotional needs which help us reach self-actualization are not met. These effects are become very prominent on the long run, especially if the individuals receive chronic invalidation. For example, they become ashamed of their emotions, lose self-confidence and accordingly have an increased risk to develop mental illnesses that coincides with the way they perceive themselves. With chronic emotional invalidation, they self-invalidate themselves from every aspect- the clothes they wear, the things they say, the thoughts they have, the behaviors they exhibit etc. therefore, this increases their likelihood to develop anxiety, depression, personality disorders and even obsessive compulsive disorder. Not just that, but these are the type of individuals who would participate in self-harm and substance abuse.

Hold on, there are still different types of emotional invalidation. Here goes a list:

  1. Ordering one to feel differently (don’t be so sensitive)
  2. Ordering one to look differently (don’t look so sad)
  3. Trying to make one feel guilty (I tried to help you but….)
  4. Denying one’s perception (you’ve got it all wrong)
  5. Trying to isolate one (you’re the only one who feels that way)
  6. Minimizing one’s feelings (you’re being dramatic)
  7. Using reason (you’re not being rational)
  8. Turning things around (You’re making a big deal out of nothing)
  9. Telling you how you should feel or act (You shouldn’t say that about your father)
  10. Debating (It is not that bad)
  11. Trying to get you to question yourself (What is your problem?)
  12. Judging and labeling (You’re such a crying baby)
  13. Defending the other person (I am sure she din’t mean it that way)

For more examples visit Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Finally, let’s take a look at what validation looks like on the other hand:

  1. “Sounds like you’re really upset right now. Is there anything I can do to help?”
  2. “I understand why you feel that way; that seems like a tough situation.”
  3. “I’m here to listen if you want to talk more about it.”
  4. “That does sound difficult – I think anyone would be struggling if that happened!”
  5. “I didn’t intend it that way, but I can see why you thought my comment was hurtful. I’m sorry.”
  6. “I’ve experienced something similar and I know how hard it is to go through that.”

The sentences above are the type of expressions that we should give and receive in hardships. Receiving support without judgement is an extremely important element of any one’s psychological well-being. Therefore, we should be aware of the people who give us psychological tantrums through the invalidation and embrace those who accept us the way we are and validate our emotions no matter how bizarre they may be. Please also remember that we should also acknowledge the emotions of our loved ones without questioning their validity.

Mai Elsayed

A Mass Communication alumna from the American University of Sharjah. Loves writing about human related stories and factors that affect our psychological well being such as relationships, love and family.

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