codependency

Emotional Invalidation: A Form of Emotional Abuse

Emotional Invalidation #abuse #emotional #gaslighting #control #narcissist #invalidation

 

Have others minimized, shamed, or invalidated your feelings?

Having your feelings diminished, ignored, or rejected is a painful experience for all of us – but even more so if you’re a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) or survivor of abuse or other trauma.

It’s important to have a sense of belonging and to be a part of a group -- a family or community.  And part of belonging to any group is to be known, understood, and accepted. But, while it’s normal to want to be understood, we can’t depend on others to validate who we are, what we believe in, and how we feel. When we do, we compromise pieces of who we are in order to fit in and let others determine our self-worth.

 

Your feelings are valid

Your feelings matter. Emotions serve an important purpose and shouldn’t be ignored. For example, feeling angry, afraid, or sad tells you that something’s wrong. You don’t want to miss these crucial pieces of information because they can help you to take care of yourself and make decisions to keep yourself safe.

Feelings aren’t right or wrong. They are a reflection of your thoughts, experiences, and perceptions, which is why two people can have the same experience, but feel differently.

It’s also important to note that validation – saying that someone’s feelings are acceptable or worthwhile – isn’t the same as agreeing with their feelings. We can certainly feel differently, but make the effort to try to understand and empathize with our loved one’s feelings.

 

How others invalidate your feelings

Sometimes emotional invalidation is done accidentally by someone who is well-meaning but has a low emotional intelligence or simply isn’t paying attention to your feelings. A common form of invalidation is when someone tries to cheer you up when you’re sad because they feel uncomfortable with your feelings. This can be invalidating because your feelings are being dismissed when someone wants to change your feelings rather than accept them or understand them.


 

Other times, emotional invalidation is a form of manipulation and an attempt to make you question your feelings and experiences. A pattern of invalidation is a form of emotional abuse or gaslighting. it’s a denial of you or your experience. It implies that you’re wrong, overreacting, or lying. Abusers do this to turn things around and blame the victim and deny or minimize their abusive words or actions.

The most common forms of invalidation include blaming, judging, denying, and minimizing your feelings or experiences. Invalidation isn’t just disagreeing, it says: I don’t care about your feelings. Your feelings don’t matter. Your feelings are wrong.

Invalidation might sound something like this:

  • I’m sure it wasn’t that bad.
  • You’re overly sensitive.
  • You probably took it too personally.
  • You’ll get over it.
  • Just let it go.
  • You’re a strong person.
  • It could be worse.
  • God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.
  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • I know exactly how you feel.
  • You shouldn’t be angry (or any other feeling).
  • You make a big deal out of everything.
  • That didn’t happen.
  • Stop making things up.
  • I’m not going to talk about this with you.
  • You probably misunderstood.

Invalidation can also be non-verbal: rolling your eyes, ignoring, playing on your phone or another distraction, leaving the room.

 

What to do when your feelings are invalidated

When your feelings are minimized or denied, it’s natural to want to defend yourself or to strike back and emotionally wound the perpetrator. This is understandable but rarely helpful. In fact, the perpetrator is often looking to put you on the defensive and draw you into a non-productive argument that further distracts you from the real issues.

Before deciding how to respond to invalidation, ask yourself a few questions to clarify your goals and options:

  • Are you close to this person?
  • Does their opinion matter?
  • Has this person been interested in understanding your feelings in the past?
  • Is it a good use of your time and energy to help them understand your feelings?
  • Does this person have a habit of invalidating your feelings?
  • How have they responded in the past when you’ve pointed it out?

Sometimes, it’s not worth trying to get a stranger or even an acquaintance to understand your feelings. Generally, the closer the relationship you have with someone, the more important it is for them to understand your feelings. However, you have to be realistic about other people’s capabilities to do so. If this person repeatedly invalidates your feelings and isn’t interested or motivated to change, you need to take steps to distance yourself and take care of your own feelings. You may want to calmly and without blame state that you feel invalidated. This acknowledges that you’ve been hurt and gives the other person the opportunity to make it right.

The key, again, is not to get drawn into a debate about who is right or wrong, but to set a boundary that states how you want to be treated and to leave the situation if your needs aren’t respected.

If you have a friend or family member who occasionally invalidates your feelings and is open and receptive to learning how to be more empathetic, you can show them this short video from Brené Brown about empathy and you can practice communicating your feelings using I statements. You can find more details about how to share your feelings in this article.

 

How to validate your own feelings

It’s important to form relationships with people who love and respect you, who care about your feelings and want to understand who you are and how you feel.

It’s also important for you to care about, understand, and validate your own feelings. As you know, we can run into emotional problems and become victims when we rely too heavily on external validation.

 

I wrote the following affirmation to help you validate your own feelings.

I respect and honor myself when I pay attention to and accept my feelings.  

I will try to slow down and make time to notice my feelings.

I know that my feelings matter and I will value the truth and wisdom they contain.

Others may try to invalidate my experiences and feelings, but I will hold onto my truth.

I can hold onto my truth and also remain open to other people's perspectives as long as there is mutual respect. I'm learning to distinguish between people who invalidate and disrespect me and those who are curious and interested but have different experiences and feelings than my own. 

I can choose not to spend time with people who continue to invalidate my experiences and feelings. I will choose to surround myself with people who support my healing and growth, who push me to be a better person, and who leave me feeling better about myself -- not worse.

I can validate my feelings by reminding myself that all feelings are acceptable and have a purpose; my feelings matter and they aren’t wrong.

I will validate my feelings by making them a priority. I will give them time and space to exist.

I will be curious about them and seek to understand them better, rather than judging them or pushing them away.

I know my feelings matter so I will practice accepting them.

I will give myself compassion in the face of difficult emotions. I will listen to my feelings and use them as a guide to help me take better care of myself.

I will hold onto my truth and validate my own feelings.

 

Many people get stuck because they think they need their loved ones to validate their feelings. To have a satisfying relationship with someone, you need them to understand you. However, you don’t need other people to tell you your feelings are acceptable. The important thing is that you know your feelings are valid regardless of what others think. You are the only one who can validate your feelings and deem them acceptable and legitimate; no one can do it for you and external validation doesn’t mean anything until you can validate your own feelings.

 

invalidation vs empathy #emotionalabuse #invalidation #empathy #feelings #narcissisticabuse #codependency

 

©2018 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.
This article was originally published on PsychCentral.com.
Photos courtesy of Unsplash.com.


Sharon Martin is a psychotherapist, writer, speaker, and media contributor on emotional health and relationships. She specializes in helping people uncover their inherent worth and learn to accept themselves -- imperfections and all! Sharon writes a popular blog called Happily Imperfect for PsychCentral.com and is the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism: Evidence-Based Skills to Help You Let Go of Self-Criticism, Build Self-Esteem, and Find Balance and several ebooks including Navigating the Codependency Maze.

33 thoughts on “Emotional Invalidation: A Form of Emotional Abuse

  1. Hello. I loved this article about invalidation and what to do with invalidators. I always felt it was deeply wrong and hurtful to invalidate others bc my mother is a chronic invalidator, unintentional at it. I’m now 30 and she’s 70. I survived her emotional neglect because my father was much more validating, however I know my mother is very unlikely to learn to be a validator. I think she was invalidated herself too, and she has very little sense of self validation herself. The bad thing is that due to her invalidation I cannot be friends with her-I don’t have any emotional need met with her and don’t feel safe with her. The other thing that sucks is I suffer deeply still whenever she invalidates me I remember almost every single time she did in the past and if I let it I can let it eat me alive in sadness. I feel I get better at it with the help of letting go and through self validation and acceptance that she won’t change but I don’t have to doubt my own feelings or dismiss them as unreal or wrong bc she says so. Thirdly I am married happily thank God and I am validated by my husband always he’s the most supportive and wonderful and I feel a deep level of understanding; where I struggle is developing female friendships—I get anxiety about a room full of women and panic, and I cannot build not have interest in making female friendships out of trust issues and fear to other women bc of my invalidating mom.

    1. Hi Kate,
      I think everone has someone like that in their lives. I just experienced that with a friend and neighbor. My circle of friends have chosen to ignore me possibly because I dropped out of a womens club. When I shared my feelings, not only did she invalidate them, her husband told me that my feelings were bull Sh __.
      I felt like a fool for having tried. No good came of the conversation, as a matter of fact I felt as though by my sharing my feelings, I’ll be distanced even more.

  2. I have a father that invalidates my feels every chance he gets. He tell me to get over how he treats me or other people treat me. That I just need to get over the traumas that I have suffered in my 21 yrs of life. it’s hard to do so because I haven’t heard. And it hard to heal when you constantly have family members like my dad and sister invalidating my feelings and experiences on a daily bases. My dad wants me hurry up and heal. He tells me that I’m displaying a losers mentality because Im trying to deal with my emotions in a healthy. Not in a way were I become destructive and just brush everything aside. I’ve been taught to do that my entire life by my dad. He’s very disrespectful when it comes to me shares my opinion and emotions. I’m mocked and made fun of and get called sensitive. I tell him that he hurts me and he still mocks me or laughs at me. Whenever we talk on the phone I don’t even get to my sentence out before he interrupts me. when I call him out in it he tells me that I interrupted him first to try to make it seem like I’m lying or making something up. It’s excusing. He makes me feel bad for feeling what I feel and for doing the things I want. he tells me I don’t deserve anything because I didnt want it even though I did. I ‘m trying to heal and he’s not making the process easy.

    1. Please, please stop calling or texting him. Under no certain terms should you be alone talking to him one on one. Make sure if he has to see you, it’s in a very public place, be very vague with your answers, find an excuse to leave shortly after. Also, seek out a therapist, find a hobby for coping through your trauma. As I’m writing this to you, I’m realizing what I need to do in my situation. Thank you for sharing your story!

    2. I know it’s hard but I’d cut him out of my life. This is abuse and damaging. Unless he can treat you with respect and kindness id distance myself. I know it’s hard, I did it with my dad too, but nowhere is it a requirement to tolerate abuse with family or anybody. You are both children of god and god wouldn’t treat you that way. So who is he to? You don’t deserve this and I’m sorry for your pain.

    3. There should be a group for Adult Children of Toxic Parents, as well as Adult Children of Alcoholics. We (humans) can be plenty toxic without the help of alcohol. A basic tenet of AA is acceptance – acceptance: that this is what happened to me, is still happening to me and these are the effects of this toxic relationship. There’s peace and strength that comes with acknowledging harm but not seeing oneself as a victim. Then comes the prescription to “detach with love” which is not easy to do. Detaching with love, even when done clumsily and imperfectly is completely necessary.

    4. I know what you are going thru. My parents are both invalidators. My feelings and emotions have been a victim of their invalidation all my life. They keep requiring me to publicly appreciate their sacrifices for me, since they brought me and my brother to this country from Cuba, they say if they had not brought us here our lives would be misery and I shouldn’t feel anything about the time I left behind or how sad I felt. They refuse to validate the fact that the day I left my friends I was emotionally destroyed eventhough I rebuilt my life here. They keep arguing about it and posting how many great things they have done and that my feelings don’t excuse it. These kind of parents are called narcissists. This is a very deep and intricate way of abuse and it’s written about un books. Look up narcissist parenting and you will see. I’m 39 years old now and I finally understand they have this problem but it affects me to this day because I have not healed due to their invalidation and expectation of greatful was from me my entire life. It has been a rocky road and I’m thankful I learned everything I did to be here telling the story today. Don’t let anyone invalidate you. Just walk the other way and know you are valid.

  3. Hi Laura,
    I recently had a friend I’ve known for several years completely turn on me because I did not give her my complete attention, and validate her point of view in a way that she deemed appropriately validating. She came completely unglued! I was not allowed to have a different experience or opinion. Did I mention she chose her moment to confront me (twice) in the middle of a Christmas party I was hosting to unleash that I had deeply offended her. Up to now we had enjoyed a very close and affirming relationship. I have been supportive of her. So why she did not communicate to me about being offended (apparently 2 day before the party) privately and immediately so we could understand and heal our conflict? I cannot fathom. So, I think it’s essential to choose your moment well. Take stock of your ‘beef’- has your loved one historically been supportive? Validating? Empathetic and caring? Then give that person the benefit of the doubt. Ask questions. Don’t make assumptions. Your loved ones deserve a fair opportunity to ‘hear’ your concern, and to be ‘heard’ when there is a supportive time and space for having a serious conversation. Your future relationship may depend on it. This now, former friend, seized her opportunity to confront me based on assumptions she made…but she did not check in with me about her concerns. She did and does not take responsibility for everything that followed: her lack of communicating that she’d been offended, her confrontational, hostile and punishing behavior during a 6 hour Christmas party. Her continued irrational behavior at gatherings where she either summarily ignores me or is “perfectly appropriate” when others are watching. The whole experience has left me feeling traumatized. I doubt we can come back from this and be friends. I don’t trust her anymore. I sometimes think people who are mentally fragile take advise and create justifications but not self responsibility for very bad/unwell behavior. It’s so sad because everyone looses. I even called her months later, to see how “she” is doing and she said she was still deeply offended. So sad. And also scary. I thought I knew her. It’s like she’s experiencing a completely different reality.

  4. I’m glad I stumbled upon this article. I enjoyed reading it. I have recently left a relationship where I was invalidated all the time and I paid the price because of it. In the beginning it was just small things that I said that were always followed by a disagreement. I don’t care if people disagree with me, we all have different thoughts and opinions. But the consistency built up to where it was for everything I said. Eventually each time I attempted to express my feelings she would get defensive and not acknowledge my feelings at all. The first time I expressed to her that sometimes her sarcasm at my expense was hurtful and she responded by getting extremely agitated and leaping off the couch and saying, “well I don’t think this relationship is going to last.” I wasn’t trying to end the relationship I was only trying to express my feelings. Another time I mentioned how I did not appreciate the way I was being spoken to and she replied, “Well someone has to take charge! I took care of the lunch and I did a bunch of work too!” I was not trying to say that she was not helpful, I was only trying to express that I didn’t appreciate the way I was being spoken to. Another time she said, “you have weird genetics, skin like a mexican and hair like an african.” When I mentioned that I didn’t appreciate it she said, “well maybe you should go to a bar and get hit on by other women and feel better about yourself.” There was never a time in my relationship where I felt validated. Over time I stopped bringing things up that bothered me and kept them to myself. I knew something was wrong and I finally realized that the relationship was not healthy for me to be in anymore and I left. If you ever notice that it is a repeat pattern where your partner invalidates you just leave. There are other people in this world who are willing to step back and at least hear you out.

  5. My wife invalidates me all of the time. If she does or says something that upsets me, she accuses me of being in a bad mood. If I share an idea, she says someone has probably already thought of it or picks it apart. If I share something that I discovered, she already knows it or says ‘everyone knows that.If I try to discipline our children, she interferes and makes me the bad guy. This list goes on and on. The problem is, I am the only one she does this to. Everyone else thinks she is sweet and wonderful while she is sucking all of the life from my soul. When I call her out on it, she says I am too sensitive. When I dare share my feelings with her, she often says I shouldn’t feel the way I do. What can I do to help her see how she is killing my soul? Currently, I have pulled away from her emotionally and we are simply co-existing.

    1. David, it sounds like she is a classic narcissist, in that everyone else thinks she’s great, yet she abuses her significant other. I was married to two of these. From what I understand from my reading about it, they won’t go to counseling because they think there’s nothing wrong with them, and even if they did, they’d likely pull the wool over the counselors’ eyes, too. Again from what I read, the only thing you can do is leave the relationship, and it’s best to go No Contact, or you run the risk of being drawn back in. With your having young children, this won’t be easy. I put it off too long myself. There’s no other, easier way out that I know of. Also, before you get into another marriage with a similar person (and they can be very skilled at drawing you into their web of narcissistic supply), don’t do like I did and “settle,” thinking you can’t or won’t do better, hoping differences will work themselves out. They won’t; they’ll continue and become worse, as the other person will retain the upper hand. They have to, as it’s the only way they know to survive. Good luck! But don’t continue to suffer; there is no easy way out. BTW, I am NOT any sort of qualified counselor; I’m just speaking from my own sad experience. And, since I did it twice, you can see I didn’t even learn my own lesson.

      1. Based on this man’s short post, you’re assuming his wife is a narcissist and are urging him to leave her? What if she’s not a narcissist? Maybe there are other problems in the marriage. We really don’t know many of the facts here. If anything, I would advise him to seek marriage counseling.

    2. I’m really sorry you’re experiencing this David. She does sound like a narcissist.
      Maybe try get counselling but if it doesn’t work, get out of there while you still can because it will suck your soul out to put up with it.

  6. My husband invalidates my feelings all the time. He dismisses me as making “a big deal out of nothing” and of not feeling what I’m feeling. I suppose I do the same to him after having been dismissed for 25 years. I don’t feel any emotional connection to him at all. He shares facts about his life with me all the time. He tells what what he said, what he did, what others said, what others did. He never tells me how he feels. He does tell me “I love you” once in a while, but I don’t feel loved or accepted by him. I just want someone to understand me and accept me for who I am. Is that too much to ask?

  7. Thank you for this article. I liked the part with all the affirmations. I never comment on anything but decided I’d share because I am trying to cope with feeling trapped in a marriage like this for 5 years. We have a young child and I feel like separating from an otherwise ok husband just because he’s emotionally empty is not worth it. I have shut down over the years and stopped talking about the way I feel because all I ever got was a stone wall, being completely ignored (literally just changing the subject or remaining dead silent as if I hadn’t said a thing) and sometimes gaslighted or gotten some kind of passive aggressive contempt (eye rolling and sighing).

    Last night we laid in bed a d I just started talking about how I feel using “I” statements. I spoke about how I would like to get back to my former, more motivated self. I spoke for about 5 minutes and gotta zero replies. He waited 5 minutes and then started talking about his job (pretty much the only thing he can talk about..very shallow subjects requiring little introspection or self-awareness). I told myself in my head that it has nothing to do with me and that he’s just an empty vessel and his dismissal of me is a reflection of his own issues.

    He’s not lazy, he is helpful, he likes to work and provide, etc. But as a husband he’s inept due to growing up as the Golden child of narcissistic parents who told him all day everyday how he farts rainbows.

    I want my child to have a father around despite him showing very little interest or affection towards his own child. I often ask myself why I don’t have the courage to leave and all I can come up with is zero motivation which is probably due to the low level depression being in this marriage has brought on. I feel like a fraud, like I’m living a life with a man who would most likely leave me if another lady pursued him seriously. His contempt for me is high and despite the lack of confrontation or fights there is also zero affection or intimacy either (how can I be attracted to a man who cannot even carry on a basic conversation).

    Anyway thanks for listening and I hope that something inspiring will come of this.

    1. I love someone dearly but they constantly tell me that I’m overly sensitive and emotional. It really affects me and how I interact with myself and makes me feel week. He thinks I’m “twisting his words to hurt myself” like some kind of victimizing game. I dont know what to do.

  8. My husband literally invalidates everything I say. I’m beyond knowing what to do anymore as anything I suggest or point out is belittled and dismissed. I can’t report anything to him or enlist his help in anything because his immediate response is to say that’s not true, that’s impossible, that makes no sense, or you’re wrong about that.
    It has gotten so bad that when I report to him that certain things are broken in the house he denies they are broken. We live in a lovely house that is becoming more and more in disrepair because he refuses to fix the things I point out. One day while cleaning the shower I noticed the grout crumbling. He told me I’m wrong about that. As it got worse I asked him about water getting into the wall – he told me I’m ridiculous and I’m crazy. Then when my son came home from college the shower wall caved in. If I tell my husband the light is flashing on the water softener meaning it needs salt, he responds “no it doesn’t.” If I tell him the mixer in the other shower isn’t working and the water is scalding hot he says “no it’s not.” If I tell him what the doctor said or vet said he responds “that makes no sense” or or “that’s not true.” Once I smelled smoke in the house and I ran to get my husband. I told him I distinctly smelled smoke. He kept saying over and over again I was crazy. I begged him to help me look for the fire which turned out to be a brush fire outside our window from a cigarette. I became so upset with him denying the smell of smoke that I said either help me find what’s on fire or I’m calling 911. He went outside and saw the shrub on fire which caused smoke to come through the dryer vent into the house. It was horrible hearing him say I was crazy rather than listen to me about something so dire. Tonight when my youngest son and I were home we had a bat in the house. I texted my husband but he never responded. My son finally killed the bat. When my husband came home I was so upset – I told him I saw it fly out of the chimney and his immediate response was “that’s not true” and “that’s impossible.” He wouldn’t believe one word I said even though my son saw it too and it’s dead carcass was outside. As the evening progressed he kept telling me what I told him made no sense and there’s no way that happened. I told him I will never report anything to him again because all he ever does is discount what I say. I really don’t want to live in this house with him anymore. It’s beyond horrible being treated this way everyday of my life.

  9. I’ve been invalidated countless times and by countless people. I, too, sometimes did it to them, but I try to become more understanding than earlier. Nevertheless, I still feel barely heard even by those who seem my best friends and who seem to at least want to hear me out. That’s why I still prefer to spend most of my time alone and knowing people from distance (reading, texting)… I receive texts/stuff via internet, from hundreds of profiles (as some people maybe use few), but it’s usually unreadable, vague, or merely off-topic shit, what makes me not know whether they receive my replies at all. That makes me so tired and puzzled – that I distance from everyone even more: I spend more time on googling, and take even longer to reach received texts/stuff which I find sent to me via internet…

  10. Wow I honestly have just had the biggest eye opener of my life!. And farout did I not realise how many of us there is actually out there ?
    And another thing , is that I actually can’t even believe that I just read , literally every word of every comment posted on this page ? n now here I am friken posting something ? sorry I’m just usually a person that can’t usually be bothered or cared about, when it comes to pretty much anything really. Especially these days since my husband recently past away. This was the husband I literally dreamed of all my life to find!. Because all my life up until the day that I met him my feelings I don’t think have ever been validated. it was just a shame that after the day my husband and I were told 2 days before our wedding that he had stage 4 genetic kidney cancer that our kids will have to be tested for the gene at that time was recently pregnant and with a son also aged 12-13months old and had a daughter in the end also too btw. But from that day fwd this man of my dreams that so dearly cared about every ounce of feeling and thought that I had over those next 13 months turned into the one that invalidated everything that I felt and that I should not have been feeling anythin but glad n greatfull that it was not me that was the one dying from cancer although every single day I really wished that it was me and that it wasnt him! I’d literally do anything to have stoped him from feeling as scared or bad as he was obviously feeling and I really wished that I could have done something but Although he felt like that I too also wanted him to realise how it was that I felt and that we could be there for each other but never were my thoughts and my feelings ever warented which hurt me so god dam much still to this day 12 months later still struggling on how to deal with whatever’ it is that is happening inside of me but I honestly don’t even know what it is but I’m wondering now since reading everything here that it’s got everything to do with me and that it wasn’t because my husband all of a sudden just didn’t care about me because he did , I know he did ! He was the only one ,that ever did besides my parents although I don’t believe that it was on purpose, especially when it came to my parents! Because although they invalidate everyone’s feelings I do know that it probably only because of their own parents that they obviously don’t even know how, and definitely I would say do it unintentionally,and my mum wel she’s just the nicest person in the world and will literally do absolutely anything for anyone coz she’s such a beautiful person but unfortunately also had her own feelings invalidated throughout her marriage, as my dad was a very Unpredictable man so you never knew what you would be walking into ,, was it happy dad ,or was it angry dad . Or even sometimes it was annoying dad and I mean like really anoying haha so yer but other than that he was than tooo the absolute most hard working gave to his family (us kids) me n my 3 brother’s absolutely everything that we all wanted pretty much within reason along with all the down times we also endured and there was alot of them until one day he had an accident round wen I was about 15 or whatever and all brother’s by than were grown up and had their own kids when my dad fell from a chook feed silo after having the lid blown into his face leaving him to fall I think bout 11-15meters in height down the stairs or something I’m pretty sure which left him severely injured having his jaw broken in I think 11 peices and his skull blown open and his brain being exposed (which I saw) never will I forget that image wow leaving him with brain damage to now living a life as a now changed completely person and for the good I must say hah! So yer I really do feel like so much more better now after having read all your guys stories . And I’m glad I ain’t the only one! IV definitely learnt something here tonight n am so glad I realise now why I have been the way IV been for pretty much all my life!Wow I honestly have just had the biggest eye opener of my life!. And farout did I not realise how many of us there is actually out there ?

  11. I can’t express how much this resonated with me. I can’t believe I’ve never even heard this kind of language spoken by a therapist. I have read and re-read this article a number of times, and it gave me the information I need to have a discussion with my invalidating husband of many years. Although I’ve blindly nibbled around the edges when I‘ve become exasperated and brought to tears, and simply asked him to sit next to me. I know I’m a tough egg to crack because I was raised by invalidating parents but I’ve found myself feeling very alone and worried about about my adult child’s alcoholism. My husband invalidates my feelings and sometimes he even gaslights me which then enrages me because he literally sees it too. I’m usually but not always doing the validating. I see myself in here too and I will be more conscientious of it forever, after reading this. None of this can go on any longer and for that I will a different kind of help. Oh boy.

  12. At coffee with my girlfriends, on friend asked me if I heard about my daughter’s MRI results, my adult daughter has been dealing with sarcoma cancer and this friend was truly interested and concerned about the results. I started to tell this friend that the results were good! I then stated that it feels like a roller coaster at times waiting for tests and results, but I was happy. My other “friend” angry responded to me, “YOU have to let that go! You have to give it to God or the universe whatever you believe in but you have to let that go!!!”? She was ANGRY when she says this!! I am like thinking “What the heck?!!” I was answering The first friend’s question when she asked about the MRI results. I didn’t bring up the subject myself. I didn’t even understand what my now angry friend was referring to! All I saw was an angry outburst aimed at me ??! I had to ask what she meant, and she replied, “All this worrying about your daughter! Is it doing HER any good?? Is it doing YOU any good????!!!! YOU have got to let it go!!!!” I was speechless. I wanted to bolt. I knew if I opened my mouth that I would start crying from the bottom of my very soul. ? I stayed for the remainder of the coffee time, not contributing much to the conversation. As we were leaving, angry friend turns to me and confirms, “YOU had to hear that! ?
    Thank you and your article for giving me the info as to where this type of invalidation comes from.

  13. Thank you, so much, Sharon! I’ve been trying to wrap my head around my mother’s emotionally abusive behavior and heal from that. I wonder if you could speak a little bit more to the reasons why a person might try to invalidate a person’s feelings, other than them being emotionally ignorant or “Other times, emotional invalidation is a form of manipulation and an attempt to make you question your feelings and experiences. ” Are there other reasons, as well? Someone said that she sees my mom as being threatened by my “light”, for example, which is kind of what got me spinning in the direction of needing to distance myself from her. Is that common, for someone to try and control another because they’re threatened by them, in some way? I really appreciate the depth and thoughtfulness of this article and particularly the clarifying questions. I feel that it is helping me to understand my mother’s patterns. Thank you!

  14. I know that this is a little late, and I know that more than a year has passed. I am writing this as a desperate person. I endured an eight year divorce when I was younger. My father is a borderline personality disorder narcissist who manipulates and gaslights every day of the week. I have been away from him for a good time now. I thought my problems were over until I realized that my feelings were subtly invalidated every single time I would have a breakdown and cry. My irrational behavior, as my mom puts it, is not productive and will get me no where. I can’t tell her how I feel without her bringing herself into it. There is validity to her feelings and hardships, so I can’t discredit that. I just feel unheard and disregarded in my lowest moments. I don’t know what to do. My irrational behavior is often blamed on hormones or simply an overreaction on my part. I am left wondering if it is I that is the villain.

  15. I think I have an issue with being invalidated. My ex girlfriend, who I still see and very much love, always tells me that I don’t care, I have no feelings. I simply exhibit “learned reactions” to emotions. Basically she’s saying that I only react to situations that cause emotion in the way I have witnessed others react and therefore I think that’s how someone who does have feelings reacts and I’m imitating someone elses emotion. She claims to “know” I’m uncaring because she can’t “see” or “feel” that I care. When I try to engage conversation regarding any of this, since I’m being told I don’t feel what I know damn well I do feel, I get frustrated. I feel my frustration is justified. All the more so when she talks about all the people who she does “feel” has love for her. Most of these people, mind you, are people who are only using her for one thing or another and have mastered the art of manipulation so well that she never even considers that’s what they’re doing. I can get defensive and want to explain things to try and help her understand I really care. This is perceived as anger, anger that’s manifested simply because I’m lying or acting out a “leaned emotion” and I’m failing to make her believe an untruth. I admit in the past I’ve done things to make her feel like I didn’t care. I left, twice. Just disappeared without saying a word. I did this because I’ve never had feelings so strong for anyone and this terrified me. At 34 years old she just sees my reason as an excuse. One she’d apparently used when she was younger. She also has a daughter who can be, let’s say a whole lot more than difficult. I love all of her kids but the middle child in particular is off the hook bad. All the time and when I walked away how I did even I didn’t realize that my feelings for her far exceeded the stress and doubt in myself that I had about being able to deal with a little girl version off the black kid from role models on steroids. What I don’t understand most of all is why she continues to initiate conversations that lead to spending time together if I’m such an emotionless uncaring person. I can’t ever just ignore her messages or phone calls because I miss her and ALL of her kids on a daily basis. So, I’m quick to return messages and calls because they’re from the only person I care to be around. I just wish she would open up and realize I’m not putting on any kind of a show.

  16. I have just separated from my wife after 35 years of marriage. I initially realise I married her too quickly even though we managed 35 years. We had only been dating for a couple of months when I said she was the type of girl I could marry and presto the very next day her mother was at the front door congratulating me and I was too cowardly to slow it all down. I had a terrible upbringing with a Father (still alive and 93 years old) who would whip me with a belt when I was a child if I did things that were considered naughty. I have two sisters one 2 years older the other 2 years younger. My young sister (now 61 years old) said my mother (who passed away 8 years ago) who she really got on closely with said she hated my fathers bullying of me and it made her cry. I was never good enough for my father and was always told I would never amount to anything in life, also I was called a girls name “Jennifer” by him if I ever showed sensitivity as he felt that was “girly behavior for a man”.
    My elder sister was (and still is according to my young sister) very very disruptive in the house every day uncontrollably angry, shouting at the family members and threatening them and physically abusing us (including hitting my Mother with any at hand implement).
    I now after reading this blog am starting to reconise that I was carrying on with my proposed marriage to my wife as she reminded me to my elder sister (the familiarity), as even my wifes brother always said she was bossy (I did not see this in comparison to my sisters awful behaviour).
    My wife has always been looked after by me (I believe I was codependent due to the upbringing issues) and I ran around after her all the time. She however took but never gave back in that all I wanted was some emotional support over time which she never gave me.
    I have seen a therapist who also independently saw my wife so, he has had us both explain ourselves one to one with him. He just recently confided in me and said I should move on as my wife and I are totally incompatible and he went on to say in essence I was too nice and had a big heart and she could not recognise my support as he felt she had issues herself.
    Your blog and information on emotional invalidation was like being hit by an earthquake to me as it resonates completely and now makes sense as to why she could never emotionally support me when I was in desperate need.
    Sorry this is a long e mail but I hoped it may offer support to others as I am now determined at age 63 to find happiness by eventually and hopefully finding a partner who can reconise my “highly sensitive nature” and embrace the gentleness of this trait. My therapist described me as a gentleman and said the emphasis should be place and the gentle as he believes this is my trait.
    I am frightened being alone at the moment albeit I feel relieved to not have to keep on worrying about my wife as to whether she is comfortable etc ect so I pray I can find happiness in the future as I dont believe I have ever been happy in my life.

    1. Wishing you the best, William. You’ve been through a lot and it sounds like you’re on your way to caring for yourself in some new and important ways. That takes courage!

  17. My parents have been extremely invalidating my whole 25 years of existence – not intentionally though. I feel very extreme amounts of emotional invalidation. I have struggled with my feelings and emotions for the almost 6-7 years. It has created some very deep wounds, I don’t have any intention to fix things between us anymore. It has left me with a crippling pain in my heart. I have lost track of the number of times I have cried alone in my room, feeling absolutely hopeless. I don’t feel loved, accepted, wanted by my parents or anyone else. It has put me in a “forever uncomfortable” kinda state. I have developed some very self damaging behavior and thoughts which I still have not been able to come out of. I have tried everything I could over the past few years to break the chain, but not little success. There are days I feel absolutely hopeless. I often feel something very major is missing in my life. I have been seeing a therapist for a few months now, it has helped very little. I don’t see much hope looking forward. My life is a standstill. Nothing is going on except that I feel sad all the time. Reading this made me feel a bit better, I felt like posting too.

  18. Hi, I really need some advice. I’m living with a boyfriend who is probably very sensitive. He kept saying that he feels blamed out of everything and makes that as an excuse to invalidate my feelings. For example, when I shared my feelings to him that I’m sad because I missed out many things I used to do before , or when I tried to say that I am unhappy, he will always come up with the sentence “how do you think it makes me feel? ” . So, I feel like there is never a time or a turn for me to feel something, whether anger or sadness, or feeling blue. I’ve become scared of telling him I’m sad or hurt because it will end up with him saying that it makes him feel blamed about it. Am I in the wrong here about feeling invalidated? I really don’t know what to do. I told him that it was never my intention to blame him but this sentence always comes from his mouth everytime we had arguments and I shared how I feel. I learned to use the word “I” instead of “you” in this approach but he still feels like I’m attacking him and becomes so defensive about it, thus makes me feel like my feelings are invalidated. He would be angry and yell even hit things or throw something when I kept telling him about how I felt. We had a fight on the night before my birthday, approaching midnight where I told him about how I was feeling, it escalated into a big fight and he stormed out without resolving as he got mad and said he always felt blamed. I didn’t yell, I was crying and even my voice was cracking trying to say that I am hurt but he didn’t soften his actions. I was crying alone that night on the floor I’m the bathroom, not knowing how to handle this but he still seems like he resents me, without acknowledging my feelings. When then I told him how painful and hurtful I am feeling and especially it’s on my birthday, technically it’s midnight, he said I was being dramatic, and my birthday is tomorrow. But guess what, I mean who would get over a big fight where they cried in pain over 5 hours constantly, over a night. As I saw it coming, I woke up on my birthday feeling so terrible and again crying in the morning and being clueless of what to do. Am really being dramatic and should have got over my feelings being invalidated?

    1. I think most people would feel invalidated in the situation you described and being in a relationship where you can’t express anger or sadness sounds very painful. Therapy (either for yourself or together) may be helpful.

  19. I’m currently in a relationship where I allowed the invalidation of my feelings get the best of me . I really handled it the wrong way. It wasn’t until it happened that I started trying to understand why or how I couldve allowed myself to deal with it the way I did. But before I realized this is an issue in other people . I just felt upset I was sad and sometimes I’d drink and that would make me feel upset at times mad at him and sometimes I’d say mean things things I didnt mean . And it just kinda spiraled downward from there. And now i feel even more invalidated by him. Not to mention I truly am not a mean person. Looking back I cant believe I was that way . And it makes me even sadder cause I have to be accountable for my actions . I’d love to work it out but I’m not sure if at this point it can be repaired . I guess some people don’t want to hear how you feel,I thought that was called communicating! And I’m so glad I found this article because it really made me realize that my feelings should’ve mattered the frist place . And weather it works out or not i have to care and know my feelings matter for myself. And i learned how not to deal with this situation in the future!! Thank you!!

    1. Brittany,
      You’re right that you have to be accountable for your choices/actions just as your partner needs to be for his. And learning to value your own feelings will serve you well as a person and in your relationships. I think this is also a great opportunity to practice self-compassion. The fact that you wanted to numb out with alcohol makes perfect sense; your feelings were invalidated, so you tried to dull them. Of course, it didn’t work well, but it’s still understandable that you would do that to try to cope.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *