Everyone needs to have a sense of belonging – known, understood and accepted. This is part of the human experience and not having it brings with it feelings of isolation, abandonment and rejection.
Affirmation builds feelings of connectedness because it is a critical expression of love and acceptance in relationships. So critical that parenting experts say it's one of the most important things parents can do to encourage healthy mental development in their children.
Validation does not necessarily mean that we agree with someone else's subjective reality. Validation is simply allowing the other person's emotional state to exist. Unfortunately, many people don't experience validation in our interactions with others, which can leave the recipient feeling ignored, rejected, and cause lasting emotional damage.
What is Emotional Disability?
Emotional debasement occurs when a person's feelings are belittled, ridiculed, ignored, or rejected. It is when someone is told that their experiences of the world are wrong, stupid, or not worth considering, and it sends the message that a person's emotional experience is inaccurate, insignificant, and/or unacceptable. They are essentially being told that their feelings are unimportant.
but feelingsmakeimportant and must be heeded because emotions serve an important purpose. They are your inner messengers about your experiences and should not be ignored. For example, if you feel angry, scared, or sad, it indicates something is wrong, allowing you to assess the situation to make decisions about an appropriate response.
Because of this, invalidation causes confusion—your mind and body are sending you signals while someone else is giving you those messagesabout youare not exact. But your feelings are neither right nor wrong. They simply reflect your thoughts, experiences and perceptions, which is why two people can have the same experience but feel different.
Another person cannot tell you what you think is wrong. As Licensed Professional Counselor Carolyn Cole (2021) writes: “During times when you are hurt or feeling insecure, it can be very healing to receive comfort and understanding from those you care about. Validating your experiences and feelings is a crucial factor in healthy relationships as it contributes to trust and the safety of being vulnerable.”
The Wounds of Emotional Disability
Disability can significantly damage or disrupt a person's mental health and well-being and be traumatic for anyone who experiences it.
The effects of disability can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or culture, but children are the most vulnerable to the negative effects of disability because their awareness and understanding of the world is still developing, as are their brains and nervous systems. The disabled child is likely to develop a pervasive sense of insecurity and later difficulty in healthy emotional expression.
A 2003 study published by Krause, Mendelson, and Lynch (2003) correlated childhood emotional devaluation, including psychological abuse or experience minimization, with “chronic emotional inhibition in adulthood,” which in turn predicts significant psychological distress, particularly in adults Stage. form of depression and anxiety-related symptoms.
Disabling often leads to emotional detachment, conflict, and the breakdown of relationships, as well as feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, confusion, and inferiority in the affected person. Disabling can limit a person's ability to manage their own emotions and behavior.
This erodes one's self-esteem and leads to feelings of anger, shame, guilt, and worthlessness that can negatively impact a person's day-to-day functioning. It can lead to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety as mentioned above, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, and borderline personality disorder (BPD). Because of the profound damage to self-esteem, disability can also increase suicidal thoughts and self-destructive behavior.
It is clear that disability has a significant negative impact on a person's mental health and can threaten their existence. This creates a sense of disconnection from your self-esteem and detachment from the reality that you are inherently valuable - that you inherently belong in the world around you.
How invalidate people
Sometimes emotional debasement is inadvertently applied by someone who means well but shows little care. They may have low emotional intelligence or just not pay attention to their feelings. Well-meaning conquerors often feel that the goal is to help someone feel better or different—for a thrillSheas more accurate or valid.
For example, when someone tries to defuse your anger because they are uncomfortable with your feelings. This can invalidate why your feelings are being dismissed when someone wants to change your feelings instead of accepting or understanding them.
In other cases, emotional debasement is a form of manipulation and an attempt to get you to question your feelings and experiences. A persistent pattern of devaluation is a form of emotional abuse - a persistent denial of yourself or your experience. It implies that you are wrong, exaggerating, or lying. Abusers do this to turn things around and blame the victim and deny or downplay their abusive words or actions.
Common forms of devaluation include blaming, judging, denying, and downplaying your feelings or experiences. The invalidation isn't just about disagreeing, she says, "I don't care about your feelings. Your feelings don't matter. Your feelings are wrong.” The disabled person usually leaves a conversation confused and full of doubts.
If you're the recipient of invalidation messages, know this: YOU ARE NOT CRAZY! Your feelings are valid and genuine.
acknowledgment of invalidity
The invalidation feels like a character critique that touches people deeply and increases feelings of anxiety and depression, especially in highly sensitive people. It can feel like blaming, swearing, and problem solving before understanding the other person's experiences.
Disabling can also look like gaslighting, a form of manipulation and emotional abuse where the disabled begins to question what is true - their emotional experience or the disablement.
Emotional devaluation might sound something like this:
- I'm sure it wasn't that bad.
- You just took it so personally.
- Just let it be.
- you are a strong person
- Can be worse.
- God gives you no more than you can bear.
- Everything happens for a reason.
- I know exactly how you feel
- You shouldn't be angry (or sad, scared, anxious, etc.).
- You give too much importance to everything.
- This didn't happen.
- Stop making things up.
- You're exaggerating.
- You probably got it wrong.
- Stop being so touchy.
- You're just looking for attention.
- you are so dramatic
- Can't you just get over it?
- You're fine - what's there to fret about?
How do you deal with emotional devaluation?
Stop and think before you answer.
Being the recipient of an emotional debasement can trigger the fight-flight-or-freeze response, which can make you react aggressively or defensively. However, this can lead to further conflicts and divisions. When the invalidation is intentional, the perpetrator often tries to put you on the defensive and engage you in an unproductive discussion that further distracts you from the real issues at hand.
Before you respond to the invalidation notice, you must determine how you want to respond. You can do this by asking 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 their feelings?
- Does this person have a habit of dismissing your feelings?
- How have they reacted in the past when you pointed this out?
Sometimes it is not worth trying to explain your feelings to a stranger or even an acquaintance.
A person who accidentally invalidates their emotions is unlikely to realize what they are doing. Most people aren't mean or malicious - they're just caught up in their own world and their own problems. You can usually solve this problem by being direct and assertive"I feel like you're invalidating my feelings. I don't need you to fix or judge. You just have to listen to me now.
These "I" statements are a tool for you to express yourself calmly. The most common model for this is: “I feel _____________ when you _____________. I'd like to ___________.” Be prepared to end the conversation if they don't hear or don't want to listen to you. Let them know that you will discuss the matter with them when you feel comfortable doing so. Be neutral and assertive, and set clear boundaries with them.
For the person who makes an active choice to be malicious, continue to devalue their feelings, and resist change, it is best not to show their vulnerability and instead put distance between them. It may be wise to take stock of the relationship and consider whether or not it is worth it, possibly even ending the relationship in severe cases as their actions are damaging to your mental and emotional health. This type of cruel and focused behavior is abusive and should not be accepted.
While disability can hurt, it can be an opportunity to challenge you to change and growth, even if that growth merely enhances coping skills and boundaries.
Healing from Emotional Disability
Healing requires purposeful, consistent, and conscientious growth of character, self-confidence, and self-love. As invalidation robs you of confidence in your natural responses to the world, you must detach yourself from the opinions and complaints of othersrebuild confidence in yourself.
Start with self-validation. Self-validation means that you recognize your experience as legitimate and do not automatically accept the other person's decision about your own. While it is normal to want to be understood, you cannot rely on others to validate who you are, what you believe, and how you feel. In doing so, you give up parts of who you're meant to be a match with and let others determine your worth.
As psychotherapist Sharon Martin (2021) puts it: “Many people get stuck because they think they need their loved ones to validate their feelings. In order to have a fulfilling relationship with someone, you need itunderstandYou. But youNOneeds other people to tell him his feelings are acceptable. The important thing is thatOfKnow that your feelings are valid regardless of what others think. You are the only one who can validate your feelings and consider them acceptable and legitimate; nobody can do it for you and external validation means nothing until you can validate your own feelings.”
Surround yourself with people who support your self-affirmation and self-esteem - people who are kind, honest, accepting, encouraging, and affirming. This may or may not include people in your current social circle.
Being in a compassionate relationship is just as importantwith yourself. Remind yourself of your inherent worth, that you are enough and so onyou are important, regardless of what others think or say about you. If you really know and believe in it, it can be very powerful.
Its inherent value was explained at Matthew 10:29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a denarius? And none of them will fall to the ground without their father. But even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Therefore fear not; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Having healthy boundaries is essential to recovering from disability. Therapist Carolyn Cole (2021) describes boundary setting as follows: “Say 'yes' to yourself and 'no' to the other person - as opposed to 'yes' to the other person and 'no' to yourself (which doesn't really feel good)." One easy way to set a limit is to limit the amount of time you talk to the person. You can say, "I have to go now" during a debilitating conversation - see See how that feels and expand from there.
Ultimately, dealing with disability is all about developing your self-esteem, confidence, and assertiveness, skills that you can learn and develop with practice and perhaps professional guidance. Always remember:Your feelings are valid and important, even if other people may not appreciate them.
vonPaige Santmyer, MA APC NCC CCATP
Paige provides a safe and comfortable environment for clients to explore the challenges they face. She also believes in addressing the whole personality of the individual and assessing needs in all walks of life, rather than just focusing on mental health needs. Paige works with adults and teens around depression, anxiety, mood disorders, relationship issues, trauma, PTSD and life transitions.
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