What Is Invalidation?
Invalidation is a term used in psychology to describe the act of communicating to another person that their thoughts, feelings, or experiences are not real or valid. This can be done through words, actions, or even just by ignoring someone. It is a common tool used by people who want to control and dominate others.
Invalidation is a way of shutting someone down and making them feel powerless. When someone is invalidated, it sends the message that their thoughts and feelings don’t matter. And that they are not worth listening to. This can be incredibly damaging to someone’s self-esteem and can leave them feeling isolated and alone.
People who invalidate others often do so because they are insecure and need to feel superior. They feel threatened by the other person’s thoughts or feelings and often don’t want to hear them. They may also not understand what someone else is going through. So they invalidate them in order to avoid dealing with their own uncomfortable emotions.
Signs Of Invalidation
Invalidating others often manifests itself in subtle ways which make it difficult for the person who is on the receiving end of it to recognize anything has happened. There are some signs that may indicate someone is invalidating you:
- Share your thoughts, feelings, or experiences with another person and they respond with indifference or little concern
- Present another person with an argument based on facts and they accuse you of being too emotional
- Try to explain why something is unfair or harmful to you and the other person doesn’t take your feelings into consideration
- Express yourself clearly but the response you get is a flat out refusal to understand
Types Of Invalidation
There are many different ways that someone can be invalidated. Some of the most common include-
Emotional Invalidation– Invalidating someone’s emotions makes them feel as though their feelings are not real or that they don’t have the right to feel a certain way.
Minimizing– When people minimize what someone is saying or going through, it diminishes the other person’s thoughts and experiences to make them seem less important or valid.
Belittling– This is similar to minimization but goes beyond just dismissing someone’s feelings. With belittling, you also attack someone personally to show that they are inferior and not worth listening to.
Attacking Motives– When you attack someone’s motives, you accuse them of having malicious intent for feeling or thinking something that may be hurtful towards you.
Denial Of Responsibility– Denying responsibility invalidates someone’s feelings by suggesting that they are responsible for how they feel.
Blame– When you blame someone, you accuse them of being the source of their own emotions and experiences. You might say things like “you’re just too sensitive,” or “if you weren’t so stressed out all the time, I wouldn’t have to yell at you.”
Ignoring– Ignoring someone makes it clear that what they feel does not matter and is something you hope they will simply get over on their own.
Competing– Competing invalidates someone’s thoughts and feelings by suggesting that your thoughts and feelings are more important than theirs and should therefore take priority.
Trivializing– Trivializing occurs when a person gets caught up in the details of something to the point where they are able to dismiss it entirely.
Deny Effects– When you deny effects, you refuse to acknowledge how someone’s thoughts or feelings affected them. This often comes in the form of well-meaning reassurances like “but everything is okay now,” or “it’s not that big of a deal.”
Validating Someone’s Thoughts And Feelings
When someone shares their thoughts and feelings with you, whether it’s through words or other means, one of the most important things you do is make sure they know that what they are sharing is important and valid. Sometimes people limit the way they offer their support because they think it might make things awkward or difficult, but you can validate someone without pressuring them to change how they feel.
Instead of saying something like “you shouldn’t feel that way,” try using phrases like-
- “I’m so sorry you’re going through this.”
- “That sounds really tough.”
- “It makes sense that you would feel/think/want _____ given your experience.”
- “Your opinion matters and I want to hear more about it.”
Validating a person’s thoughts and feelings doesn’t mean that you have to agree with whatever it is that they are saying or doing, but rather that you recognize how their experience is important to them and hope they will continue to share it with you.
Invalidation In A Relationship
Invalidation can often occur in relationships as a way for one person to control or manipulate their partner’s behavior. Invalidating someone right after an argument is a popular method of ‘confusing’ someone into feeling like what they are thinking and feeling isn’t rational, and therefore doesn’t need to be taken seriously. It can also be used as a guilt trip where someone tries to make another feel like they aren’t allowed to be upset after behaving badly towards them.
Some common forms of invalidation that occur within relationships include-
- Dismissing feelings: “You’re just overreacting.” / “Don’t start that again.”
- Countering feelings: “It’s not that bad.” / “You’re blowing this way out of proportion.”
- Invalidating emotional expression: “Please don’t cry”/”Smile, everything is fine.”/”I guess I’ll have to do all the work again!”
- Dismissing thoughts: “You don’t really mean that.” / “Quit being stupid.” / “That’s impossible. You must be joking.”
- Dismissing needs/wants/desires: “There’s no point in talking about it; there isn’t anything we can do” / “If you bring this up one more time I’m leaving!”
Negative Effects Of Invalidation
Invalidation is a term that refers to a behavior in which one person does not respect the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and opinions of another. Invalidators can cause serious damage over time as they dismiss what others say and try to explain them away instead. This dismissive attitude can hurt those who are closest such as loved ones and friends because it makes them feel like they don’t have someone to rely on.
Invalidation can have serious consequences for anyone who experience it often. Particularly those who are the victims. When you are experiencing invalidation over time, it becomes difficult to trust others and communicate with them. This means that people will avoid sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings with others. Because they know that this information will likely be wrong or people may not take it seriously (as it may be against them).
Invalidation Can Be Very Harmful
Invalidation has the potential to be very harmful because it can invalidate someone’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This can make them feel like there is something wrong with them and that they should be ashamed of themselves. When someone is invalidated on a regular basis it can make them lose trust in their own emotions, opinions, and perceptions of the world. It may also cause someone to develop low self-esteem or even depression as a result.
Invalidation Can Be Subtle
Invalidating another person can sometimes be subtle and other times quite overt. A wordless gesture such as rolling one’s eyes when someone shares their problem could be considered invalidating if it makes the other person feel unworthy of attention or consideration. On the other hand, telling someone flat out “I don’t care what you think” is a clear example of invalidating behavior.
Invalidation Can Harm Friendships
Invalidation can be especially damaging in friendships. Because friends should support each other and make each other feel good about themselves. When one friend constantly invalidates another it can lead to a rift between the two, as well as low self-esteem for the one that is feeling invalidation. It is important for friends to have open communication without fear that their thoughts, feelings, or experiences will be dismissed by the other person.
Invalidation Can Be A Form Of Abuse
In romantic relationships, invalidating another person is often a form of emotional abuse known as gaslighting. All couples disagree with each other from time to time but someone who regularly disagrees with their partner or accuses them of being “too sensitive” may not have healthy intentions. Gaslighting is a form of abuse used to make someone else feel crazy or unworthy, and it can be incredibly harmful to the victim.
Benefits Of Learning To Deal With Invalidation
When it comes to learning how to deal with invalidation, there are countless benefits it can provide. Some of these are the following-
- First and foremost, you will learn how to better understand and empathize with the feelings of others. This is vitally important, as it can help to build stronger, more meaningful relationships with the people in your life.
- Additionally, you will likely find that you are able to handle your own emotions in a more constructive and better way when they arise. This can lead to decreased stress and a more positive outlook on life in general.
- Finally, by learning how to deal with invalidation in a healthy way. You may find that you are less likely to resort to behaviors. Such as passive aggression or outright aggression as a way of dealing with your emotions.
Learn how to deal with the invalidation of others by understanding the term itself. And recognizing the negative effects of invalidating someone else’s feelings on mental health.
How Does Invalidation Change Relationships?
When someone has been invalidating you begin to understand that it happens. They will likely feel guilty about their behavior. This may give them a desire to change their ways. And help them realize how much better things can be when they stop invalidating others. If a friend or family member is experiencing invalidation by another person. Sometimes having them spend time around those who respect them can help improve their self-esteem. It isn’t always easy to overcome invalidation as it can have a profound impact on one’s self-image. But being able to recognize invalidation and confront it is the first step.
Invalidation can have negative consequences for friendships. Especially when one person does not respect the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and opinions of another. In these situations, it is important for each individual to speak up in a respectful way about what he or she needs. In order to maintain a positive relationship with the other people involved. Without this open communication, invalidation can lead to loneliness, frustration, and even resentment over time. If someone in your life is invalidating your feelings such as a romantic partner, family member, coworker, friend, or classmate. Consider setting boundaries and speaking up about how their words make you feel.
How To Respond To Invalidation?
Invalidation is a common experience for many people. For invalidated individuals, there are ways to respond to this behavior in order to overcome it.
One way to respond to invalidation is to be direct about your feelings and thoughts. For example, if someone says something that invalidates you, tell them clearly what they have said makes you feel bad or uncomfortable. This can help the other person recognize their behavior and make positive changes in the future. But it does not always work this way.
Be Honest About Your Intentions
If someone responds negatively when you express yourself directly, avoid getting angry or frustrated (even if they are being very difficult). Instead of reacting emotionally, explain why it’s important for both of you to share your opinions with each other in a respectful manner. Regardless of how the conversation goes, try explaining calmly why telling someone how you feel can be helpful in maintaining healthy relationships.
It may be beneficial for you to set boundaries with people who invalidate you. For example, if a coworker is taking credit for your work or a friend is consistently borrowing money from you without returning it, tell them how these behaviors make you feel and ask them to stop the offending conduct. If they do not respect your requests, avoid spending time around them as much as possible. When this is not an option (e.g., family members), try addressing each situation separately instead of allowing multiple sources of invalidation to affect you.
If You Are The Invalidator
If you are someone who frequently invalidates others, there are steps that can help improve your behavior and strengthen relationships with those around you.
Empathize With Others
Always pay attention to what people are saying. Empathize with their feelings and mean it. This will help you recognize why other people are hurt by what you say or do.
Resolve To Change Your Behavior
Make a promise that you will attempt to avoid invalidating others moving forward. If you slip up, apologize and try again. Taking responsibility for your actions is always important in maintaining healthy relationships with others.
Accept Responsibility For Your Thoughts and Feelings
If you constantly feel the need to invalidate another person’s feelings because yours get such feelings very easily. Take steps to handle these emotions in a more constructive way when they occur (e.g., taking deep breaths, meditating, engaging in active listening ). Working through these feelings will likely decrease the frequency with which you invalidate others.
Tips For Dealing With People Who Invalidate You
Invalidation is a behavior that can have negative consequences for friendships when one person does not respect the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and opinions of another. In these situations, it is important for each individual to speak up in a respectful way about what he or she needs in order to maintain a positive relationship with the other people involved. Without this open communication, invalidation can lead to loneliness, frustration, and even resentment over time. when anyone invalidates your feelings or emotions in your life such as a romantic partner, family member, coworker, friend, or classmate consider setting boundaries and speaking up about how their words make you feel.
When you find yourself experiencing invalidation, try these strategies:
1) Acknowledge what they said
2) Find something positive about your view
3) Try empathizing with where they’re coming from
4) Make sure they know you heard them
5) Focus on achieving a resolution or goal
Bringing It All Together: Invalidation is a demoralizing and frustrating experience. When you feel invalidated. It’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with having different opinions and beliefs than other people. We should focus and think for ourselves! Remember to be understanding of how someone else feels. And let them know that you listen to them even if you don’t agree with their perspective. Nobody wins when we invalidate each other; hopefully, these strategies will help us all win in the end.
What If You Invalidate Others?
If you are someone who frequently invalidates others, there are steps that can help improve your behavior and strengthen relationships with those around you.
1. Think about how it feels to be and why do you feel invalid. This will help you recognize why other people are hurt by your actions.
2. Resolve to change your behavior and avoid invalidating others moving forward. If you slip up, apologize and try again. Taking responsibility for your actions is always important in maintaining healthy relationships with others.
3. Accept responsibility for your thoughts and feelings if you constantly feel the need to invalidate another person’s feelings. Because of the triggers very easily, take steps to handle these emotions in a more constructive way when they occur. Example, taking deep breaths, meditating, engaging in active listening). Working through these feelings will likely decrease the frequency with which you invalidate others.
4. If someone is invalidating your feelings or thoughts in your life such as a romantic partner, family member, coworker, friend, or classmate. Then consider setting boundaries and speaking up about how their words make you feel.
Invalidation in Therapy
Many people have experienced invalidation at some point in their lives which results in them feeling unloved and uncared for. Unfortunately, invalidation can be incredibly damaging because it forces us to question our own sense of reality and worthiness. It can leave us feeling alone, rejected, disrespected, confused, frightened, helpless, distrustful, angry, hurt, resentful, and trapped.
Invalidation is especially common in the context of therapy where it can be used by therapists to dismiss their clients’ thoughts and feelings during sessions. This type of invalidation is often called ‘therapeutic nihilism,’ which refers to an approach to psychotherapy that doesn’t take any of a client’s thoughts or feelings into consideration. Instead, the therapist treats their clients as if they are simply objects that exist for them to judge or analyze, rather than human beings with real emotions that deserve to be heard.
An invalidation is a powerful tool for manipulating the human brain. It can be useful to influence people into making decisions that are not in their best interest. Or even change their opinion on an otherwise objective topic. Invalidating someone’s ideas, beliefs, and opinions does more than just demoralize them; it also makes them feel unheard which creates inner turmoil. The good news is invalidation doesn’t have to be permanent because there are ways out of this type of situation.
A Word From Therapy Mantra
Your mental health — Your psychological, emotional, and social well-being — has an impact on every aspect of your life. Positive mental health essentially allows you to effectively deal with life’s everyday challenges.
At TherapyMantra, we have a team of therapists who provide affordable online therapy to assist you with issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, workplace Issues, addiction, relationship, OCD, LGBTQ, and PTSD. You can book a free therapy or download our free Android or iOS app.