Good afternoon, Dear Readers!
If you have been in an abusive relationship of any type- whether the relationship was emotionally, physically, sexually or narcissistic abusive- then you have experienced invalidation. Invalidation is when your feelings are mocked, judged or rejected. It is done to make you feel as if you are wrong, weird, abnormal or extremely flawed. It is done in order to gain control. When invalidation is done in childhood, the child grows up not trusting her feelings, & lacking in self confidence.
There are many ways to invalidate someone. Some examples are:
- Telling someone not to feel the way they do.
- Calling someone harsh names like oversensitive, drama queen, worry wort, crybaby, etc.
- Mocking someone for feeling a certain way.
- Leading one to believe there is something wrong with them for feeling as they do.
- Telling someone to look differently (example: “Stop looking so sad”).
- Minimizing another’s feelings.
- Isolating another, such as saying “No one else would be bothered by this- what’s wrong with you?”
- Defending those who hurt or abuse you.
I believe there are other ways to invalidate someone that are much more subtle & insidious, & they do just as much harm as the more overt types of invalidating. Unfortunately, they seem to be so commonplace in society that I don’t believe many people even pay them any attention. Some examples are:
- Not asking someone “how are you?” during the course of a conversation. This clearly says, “I really don’t care how you’re doing.” Granted during times of crisis, many people simply forget to ask another this question due to being caught up in the trying situation. However, many people do this on a regular basis, no matter what the circumstances are.
- Talking nonstop about yourself. This sends the message, “I am much more important than you! Don’t waste my time talking to me about you!” In a healthy relationship, there are times where it is one-sided. One friend is going through a crisis & the other friend is offering a listening ear & support. That happens sometimes & is completely normal. What is not normal, however, is when one person only talks about himself or herself & doesn’t care enough to ask the other person questions about his/her life. This is a red flag for narcissistic personality disorder!
- Interrupting constantly. Not only is it rude, but it tells the other person that what you have to say is really much more important, & they need to just stop talking.
- Changing the topic of conversation frequently when someone else is talking. Is what you have to say so vitally important that you can’t let the other person finish what he or she is saying? Does what you have to say need to be said right this moment? If not, then let the other person have their say.
- Offering unasked for advice & opinions. This is a major pet peeve of mine. It is rude & presumptuous, & it sends the message that the one giving the advice or offering the opinion is much smarter than the person receiving it. It’s hurtful! Are your thoughts really so valuable that the other person simply can’t go on living without hearing them?
- If you don’t agree with someone’s opinion or support them, keep that to yourself or express it in a respectful way when the time is appropriate. This is something I deal with often with having C-PTSD, & it really is frustrating! People who don’t understand this disorder or want to learn anything about it often think it means I am dwelling in the past, unforgiving, not thinking positively, etc. Hearing statements like these hurt me greatly, because not only are people who say such things are trivializing the potentially life-threatening disorder I live with daily & the trauma I have endured, but they are also acting as if I am stupid for not seeing what they believe to be an obvious easy solution to this problem. This insensitivity doesn’t just pertain to mental disorders, though. Politics is another topic where I see this happening. So many people have extremly strong feelings on politics, & believe that if other people don’t share their views, they are stupid, naive, foolish, etc. & don’t mind letting those people know that. It is ridiculous! People have different views- what is the problem with that? Everyone is entitled to their opinion & to have it respected. If you can’t understand someone’s opinion or painful situation, how about trying to understand it? Or at least not judge or criticize them if you absolutely can’t understand.
I would like to encourage you to please consider your actions. Don’t invalidate others or tolerate it from other people! It is painful & frustrating to experience, not to mention invalidation tears away at one’s self-confidence. When it happens often, it makes you feel as if you don’t matter to anyone, & that your thoughts & feelings are unimportant, wrong or even flawed beyond repair. No one should experience that pain!
More information regarding invalidation (including a free ebook on the topic) is available at my website, http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com