Invalidating behavior

To my surprise, disqualification is something one does to oneself, not to someone else.One disqualifies oneself when one is afraid to say what one really feels or means for fear that others will reject it.

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So critical in fact, that parenting experts report that it’s one of the most important things a parent can do to foster healthy psychological development in their children (Read: The Power of Validation by Karyn D. Denying someone’s feelings and emotional experience can make them feel like they’re going insane!

Validation is a critical communication tool and expression of love and acceptance in relationships. What’s scary, it can be one of the most subtle and inadvertent abuses.

If you’re the recipient of invalidating messages, know this: YOU’RE NOT CRAZY!

Possible explanations (other than psychopathy) are a low capacity for empathy and compassion, not understanding or valuing the importance of validation, and/or not knowing how to express it effectively. The well-intentioned invalidators often defend that the goal is to help someone feel better or differently — to an emotion they judge as a more accurate, more valid one.

This is called chronic emotional invalidation, which is often one of the markers of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Marsha Linehan, Ph D, the founder of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington, includes emotional invalidation in her model of risk factors for Borderline Personality Disorder.Because children, particularly children with a high emotional quotient, can be hypersensitive and react emotionally to seemingly neutral situations in a way adults might not understand, the adult may respond with logic, invalidating the feelings of the child.Over time, a child who is told their feelings are “wrong” will become confused and learn to not trust their emotions.Invalidators let it be known directly or indirectly that their target’s views and feelings do not count for anything to anybody at any time or in any way.In some families, the invalidation becomes extreme, leading to physical abuse and even murder.The fact of the matter is, some children are not allowed to express themselves emotionally, even when they’re not putting their parents in the line of fire of people who just want to wait in line at Starbucks in peace.


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