Ship30for30 Day 10 - What's invalidation

Wed, Feb 24, 2021 2-minute read

What’s invalidation
Imagine a conversation, where you’re talking with a person, spouse, significant other, peer, friend, about a comment a co-worker made that upset you, then they respond with “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

How did it make you feel?

Like you’re being told you’re wrong?

I’d bet most of us have been on the receiving end of a well-intentioned statement, like above, in a conversation. Often, it’s not an intentional rejection or judgment of an emotional state; People think they are helping and giving space when they are invalidating instead.

Invalidation are things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way”, “don’t be sad”, “it’s not a big deal”, eye-rolling, not responding, the silent treatment.

Invalidation can be anything that rejects, ignores, or judges another’s emotions or contribution to a conversation. Validating an emotional state or contribution to a conversation does not mean agreement; validation is accepting the idea or emotion as understandable.

Invalidation is often a tool to create distance, and often to avoid a difficult conversation. We can even invalidate ourselves through self-talk. I’m hugely guilty of invalidation through self-talk.

If you catch yourself using invalidating in a conversation, take a moment to check-in with the other person, apologize and rephrase, or engage the difficult conversation with conflict management skills and empathy.