Emotional invalidation is linked to the concept of invalidating environment. An invalidating environment has the tendency to respond inappropriately and insanely, acting insensitively with the feelings, sensations, emotions, opinions and behaviors of the other.
A very common example is when a child tells his family that he is sad and emotionally shaken and his family responds with something like “Oh, no! You’re not feeling that way, you’re fine!”
Characteristics of an invalidating environment
- Exaggerated reactions to others’ opinions
- Lines like “You don’t want that”, “Stop being so frisky”
- Ignore the other’s wishes and opinions
- extreme punishments
- Invalidation of feelings
Insensitive people and the relationship with emotional invalidation
Within DBT / TCD (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) there is a lot of talk about emotional invalidation, including comments about insensitive people who live with hypersensitive people or not. Insensitive people tend to emotionally invalidate others more often.
These people have greater difficulty understanding other people’s feelings , either because they have been emotionally repressed, or even because they have a type of perversion within themselves (evilness or indifference). DBT comments that people who don’t have feelings can affect a person who is sensitive to this invalidation too much.
That is, imagine that a person has experienced emotional invalidation their entire life, which has made them more emotionally sensitive and volatile than most. Now, think that this person has a very insensitive partner, if he/she tends to invalidate his/her partner, even if unintentionally, it can more easily trigger an extreme emotional reaction in her/him, since she/he is more sensitive.
Why We Shouldn’t Invalidate Feelings
Invalidating feelings will cause harm to invalidated individuals. People who suffer from this invalidation affect those around them, including those who invalidated it. So, the process of invalidating feelings creates a cycle, usually a long one, that will considerably affect the individual’s life.
In case you have invalidated or suffered invalidation, you know well how the consequences affect your own daily life and those around you. If you invalidate your friend, family member, partner, know that they will end up affecting you in the process. With that, try not to invalidate feelings, look for effective and affective communication.
My parents invalidated my feelings, is it their fault?
If you feel that your parents or guardians have invalidated your feelings, try looking at the situation from the following perspectives:
- Not everyone learned how to act properly
- Parent/guardian personality can be very demanding and perfectionistic
- Parental stress also considerably affects their behavior.
- Parents/guardians may have major mental disorders such as bipolar or borderline , or simply have lived a difficult life when it comes to managing their own feelings.
Consequences of emotional invalidation
- uncontrolled emotions
- Difficulty understanding one’s emotions
- communication difficulty
- Loss of trust in people
- Loss of confidence in yourself
1. Uncontrolled emotions
Imagine the following situation: a child calmly and calmly asks his parents to buy him something, the parents reply something like “You don’t want that, stop being silly”. The child’s brain thinks it needs to increase the intensity of the communication because the parents didn’t understand what he said.
The child will speak up, express his desire more forcefully until his parents react in a way that shows him that “the message has been properly conveyed.” Now, think with me: a person who lived his entire childhood like this, everything he wanted or did someone came to invalidate his feelings.
This person will tend to have much more uncontrolled emotions – tending to intense emotional dysregulation, after all, he learned that he will only be heard if he has a much greater reaction than “normal”.
2. Difficulty understanding one’s emotions
In addition to having more uncontrolled emotions, he also has a lot of difficulty understanding about these sensations and feelings. So, people who went through emotional invalidation will suffer consequences such as the difficulty of understanding these emotions, of perceiving and identifying them.
3. Communication difficulty
Remember the story of the little child who was invalidated in childhood? Then that same child will be an adult who will use the same invalidation techniques that are nothing more than an inappropriate form of communication.
The person who has been very emotionally invalidated is more likely to invalidate their dependents as well – since they haven’t learned what a validating environment really is.
3. Loss of trust in people
One of the most common consequences of emotional invalidation is the loss of trust in people , since the individual has been invalidated and with that, distrust was born for the purpose of protection. After all, if you saw a jaguar in a building, would you naturally try to enter that building again?
4. Loss of confidence in yourself
In addition to the loss of trust in people, the person who was invalidated heard a lot from others that being them was not enough, their desires were not “right”, their feelings were not “proper” and that they should not be the way they wanted to be. it was.
This causes serious disturbances in the individual’s self-esteem and self-confidence, making it difficult to believe that one is naturally enough.
how to validate feelings
The opposite of sentiment invalidation would be sentiment validation, which works as follows:
- Communicate and listen carefully
- Look for improvement after mistakes
- Take it easy
- understand the differences
Communicating and Listening Carefully
Remember that emotional invalidation occurs when the other understands that he was unable to pass on the information, so the most important step to not invalidate feelings is exactly that: communicate calmly and listen carefully to the other.
When we are changing habits, we have difficulties and we will make mistakes from time to time. Faced with invalidating feelings is no different. So, embark on the journey of validating feelings and when you make a mistake, try again, don’t give up.
Calm and understanding of differences
Knowing that we are all going to make mistakes, take it easy. There are many things to pay attention to, so realize that with patience you will reach your goal. Also, when you get stressed and confused, remember that we are all different, emotional validation starts when we understand that, after all, nobody needs to be like us.