Invalidation occurs when feelings are rejected, dismissed, or denied. The Individual being invalidated then feels that their experiences are inaccurate or irrelevant. This can create emotional distance from the experience, the emotion, or the individual invalidating. When an individual invalidates themselves, they create space from their experience, from harmful feelings, or from the part of themselves that wants to be seen.
Creating that space can be an important tool for survival. Individuals in abusive homes might invalidate or minimize their experiences as “not too bad”. Those who struggle with depression or anxiety might invalidate their emotions to create distance from something painful. Some individuals might invalidate a part of self because it is not accepted in society or by their culture. Individuals may invalidate their experiences to get through the painful experience and motivate themselves to get to tomorrow.
Invalidation may feed the individual’s fear or belief that they are not strong enough to cope with the painful experience. When one has so often invalidated themselves, often in order to survive, it can be difficult to move to the practice validation.
Validation requires us to face the parts of self that we hide from. It can mean facing the painful experiences that they have been trying to avoid. Facing pain can be extremely intimidating and can feel unsafe.
Healing is not a matter of flicking a switch and positive thinking and different tools magically emerge. The old coping strategies – such invalidation – that have been used for years cannot simply be thought away or willed into changing.
Struggling is not a sign of failure.
Learn how to self-validate with the help of one of our counsellors. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and start your journey today.