What Does Invalidation Look Like?

We have all experienced the dismissive feeling of  invalidation. When we are vulnerable in telling someone how we feel, and their remarks somehow negate or disregard those feelings, we automatically experience a sinking of spirit. This often leads to shutting down and zipping up as we have felt brushed off, denied and rejected.

Although a person’s remarks may come with good intentions, it is important to understand that these types of remarks skip over the feeling and miss the mark:


“Calm down.” (I always get a chuckle out of the meme that says ‘Never in this history of calming down has anyone calmed down by being told to calm down.’ Tee hee)

“You shouldn’t feel that way.”  Ouch!

“I know how you feel,” or “I hear ya.” Maybe my experience is different.

“That’s nothing to get upset about.” Well now I have two things to be upset about. 

“This happened to my (aunt, sister, friend, brother) once.” And in telling you their story, they have just jumped over your experience. 

“It could be worse.”

“That is nothing to get worked up about.” Well, I am worked up about it, that’s the point!

“I’m sorry you feel that way.” GRRRR….

“You should feel lucky.”

“Just don’t think about it.”

“Don’t be so sensitive.” Wow, is there something wrong with me too?

These types of statements are invalidating because they aren’t helpful in the moment. Perhaps your intention is to align with how someone else is feeling, or you are drawn to fix it for them; maybe someone else being in pain reminds you of your own pain and you are trying to avoid it. In any case, when we use these types of statements, we deny someone their subjective reality and their process.

Tomorrow’s post will explore validation and what it looks like.

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@giulia_bertelli

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