by Catherine Pratt
In order to understand invalidation, you first need to know that everyone has basic emotional needs. You're probably aware that humans have physical needs like food and shelter but you may not realize all humans have basic emotional needs as well.
Some of these needs include the following: (list from EQI.org)
"In various degrees, each according to his or her own unique nature, we each have a natural emotional need to feel:
clear (not confused)
productive / useful
safe / secure
If you've been chronically invalidated by others, you may find it hard to feel a sense of self-worth, go after your dreams, or even have a complete sense of who you are.
You'll also find you have a constant craving for approval from others or neediness. This invalidation will drive all your decisions including the friends you have, the jobs you take, and even your intimate relationships.
EQI has a great definition of invalidation:
"Invalidation is to reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge, or diminish someone's feelings. It is an attempt to control how they feel and for how long they feel it."
"We regularly invalidate others because we ourselves were, and are often invalidated, so it has become habitual. Below are a few of the many ways we are invalidated:
So, here's an example of how this might happen. You feel worried that if you walk home at night that it might put you in danger. You tell your mate this and his response is that you're over reacting and stress about everything and to relax and stop worrying so much.
Does it make you stop worrying? No, because your mate has invalidated your fears. You'll now also wonder if he's right and you're wrong. You'll think, "Am I over reacting? Do I stress about things for no reason?"
His comments will make you feel very confused about the situation and most likely you'll feel like your only option available is to withdraw inside yourself.
It kills part of your soul inside when it happens all the time.
If you can at this moment realize that your feelings have been invalidated then you can change the entire situation.
You don't have to say anything back. You just don't have to let it in. And you'll discover that when you stop letting others invalidate you, the approval of someone like that suddenly becomes unimportant. You could also choose to say something like, "My feelings about this are important and I need to listen to them. What I'm feeling is a valid concern."
You can also use the Weekes Method. This means that when you don't receive validation from those you're seeking it from, you don't fight those feelings or try to keep yourself together in the face of it. You just float past those distressing feelings that rise when you're not validated. If the words don't meet your needs, you can decide to not become entangled with the comments. Just let them float on by.
A lot of parents invalidate their children's feelings without even realizing. For example, when you were a kid you might have told your parents you had a bad day at school. If they laughed and said, "Wait until you get a real job then you'll know what a bad day is," this has invalidated you because they've completely dismissed your feelings.
This doesn't mean that you now need to blame your parents or your mate or whoever for invalidating your feelings and causing all your life's problems. No, the solution is the opposite. You need to realize you needed validation at that time and for whatever reason you didn't get it. It will explain to you your inner turmoil and from there a perception shift will happen. Once you realize you've been desperately seeking validation, you'll no longer need to seek it. You'll be able to give yourself the validation you need.
It's the most amazing perception change when you can suddenly see why you've been acting and reacting the way you have and then understand that you have the power to change it all.
If you want to see whether your emotional needs are being met, Eqi.org provides a short 11 question survey you can take.
Gaining the awareness that you've been seeking validation from others means you no longer need validation from others.
This doesn't mean that you still won't want love and appreciation from others. What it means is that your life won't be controlled by this unmet need.
If a person endures chronic invalidation, they may overcompensate in other areas. For example, someone might hurt others or try to control them as a way to feel secure or feel worthy.
You may find that with your knowledge of invalidation, you may suddenly have a new understanding of why others act and react the way they do. Certain conflict might be avoided or reduced simply by providing the validation that the other person needs.
Along with having basic emotional needs, you also need to be aware of your basic mental rights.
Dr. Jonice Webb describes this as the following:
"Your 11 Assertive Rights
She then goes on to say that if you grew up being constantly invalidated then you may believe the following instead:
If you believe the list above then you're dealing with invalidation. The good news is that by becoming aware of this then you can start to dismantle all the beliefs that have kept you from living to your full potential.
Invalidation isn't necessarily someone being purposefully cruel. It happens in daily life far more than you may realize. In fact, you may invalidate others yourself.
These are all invalidating behaviors. You could very easily be invalidating someone when you think you're being supportive. You know how painful it is when it happens to you so let's start being aware of when we might be doing it to someone else.
The other benefit of learning to validate others is that you'll develop far better relationships with other people. You'll also become aware of what you need from other people and will be able to let them know or in certain cases, you'll know you'll need to avoid certain people when you're needing validation.
By developing your own self-validation though means that you'll no longer search for it in others. You'll cease looking for approval in others. It's the most freeing thing you can do for yourself.
I'll leave you with one more quote from eqi.org:
Eqi.org has a lot of great information on this topic plus a book you can download.
Trans4Mind discusses this topic in their A Journey To Self Discovery online course (no fee required). The first lesson is all about invalidation and how it causes fragmentation of your identity. It's an excellent course and well worth reading through.
Self-sabotage Behavior - 7 ways our own expectations can cause self sabotage.