Reasons You And Others Invalidate Your Emotional Experience

Emotions are an inherent part of the human experience, yet many people find it challenging to live and cope with them. Why? Very often, individuals are taught to invalidate their own emotional experiences or encounter others who don’t recognize their emotions. Invalidating emotions may occur consciously or unconsciously, but regardless, it can have far-reaching and dire consequences.

What Is Emotional Invalidation?

Invalidating emotional experiences is the act of dismissing or rejecting another person’s emotional responses or reacting adversely to them. It is much more common than most people recognize, and it can arise from those closest to us like friends and family, and even from ourselves. It happens because people do not take the time to validate or understand the reality of one’s feelings.

Furthermore, there are different ways in which emotional invalidation can occur:

  • Direct: When someone explicitly tells you that what you feel is incorrect, unimportant, or ridiculous.
  • Indirect: When someone responds to your emotions by ignoring, criticizing, or ridiculing you.
  • Unintentional: When someone doesn’t realize that their behaviour or attitude is invalidating your emotions.

Why Do People Invalidate Emotions?

Emotional invalidation can be conscious or unconscious, and it usually stems from a lack of emotional intelligence or the understanding of oneself and others’ emotional experiences. Here are the primary reasons why emotions might be invalidated:

  • Emotional Inhibition: People who are emotionally inhibited or struggling with their own emotions may unconsciously invalidate others’ feelings to avoid their emotional experiences.
  • Emotional Ignorance: Individuals who have not developed emotional intelligence or have not been taught how to validate emotions may react negatively and invalidate another person’s emotions.
  • Control: Some people will invalidate others’ emotions because it is a way of controlling the situation or the person experiencing the emotions.
  • Misunderstanding: Sometimes, invalidating emotions can unintentionally occur because the person doesn’t understand or misinterprets the emotional experience of someone else. For example, a person may invalidate someone’s mental illness experiences because they are not well informed about it.

The Consequences of Invalidating Emotions

Invalidating emotions can have a profound impact on an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. Here are some of the ways it can hurt:

  • Emotional Turmoil: Invalidated individuals can feel emotionally unstable or constantly worried because they can’t rely on their emotions to guide them.
  • Low Self-Esteem: Invalidating emotions can make individuals feel like their feelings aren’t valid, and this can erode their self-worth over time.
  • Mental Health: When emotions get invalided too many times over a long time, it can lead to long-term mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Relationships: Unaddressed invalidation can have dire consequences on relationships, as it leads to conflicts, communication breakdowns and distancing.

How To Avoid Invalidating Emotions

Here are a few ways to prevent yourself from invalidating emotions:

  • Validate Others: Acknowledge a person’s emotional experiences explicitly and avoid contradicting or dismissing them. Listen earnestly and provide feedback that demonstrates respect for what they are feeling.
  • Name Emotions: Help people identify their emotions rather than making assumptions about them.
  • Show Empathy: Be empathetic towards someone’s emotional experiences, even if you haven’t had a similar experience. Empathy requires recognizing someone’s pain or concern and expressing sympathy, kindness, and understanding towards them.
  • Communicate: Communicate clearly and openly about emotions and encourage others to express their emotions as well. Create a safe space where people can communicate and be heard.

Conclusion

Validating emotions is a vital aspect of emotional intelligence and good communication, but it is still an underrated and undervalued skill, leading to emotional invalidation. Invalidating emotions is a harmful practice that can impact an individual’s mental and emotional well-being, lead to conflicts, and damage relationships. Taking steps to validate emotions can be both beneficial to others and a significant component of developing one’s emotional wellness. Remember to listen, show empathy, communicate openly, and validate emotions to create a safe and supportive environment for your loved ones and yourself.

FAQs

FAQs about Reasons You And Others Invalidate Your Emotional Experience

1. What is emotional invalidation?

Emotional invalidation occurs when a person’s feelings are dismissed or invalidated by themselves or others. This can happen when someone tells you that your emotions are wrong, tells you not to feel a certain way, or ignores your feelings.

2. Why do we invalidate our own emotional experiences?

Sometimes when we experience difficult emotions, we may invalidate our own emotional experiences because we feel ashamed or embarrassed about the way we feel. We may also have learned from past experiences that our feelings are not important or that expressing them is not acceptable.

3. How can we stop invalidating our own and others’ emotional experiences?

We can stop invalidating our own and others’ emotional experiences by learning to be more compassionate towards ourselves and others. We can practice listening to and acknowledging our own and others’ feelings without judgment. It’s also helpful to seek out supportive people who validate our emotions and help us to feel heard and understood.


References

1. Ruscio, J. (2002). Ruscio’s critics can’t handle the truth: A validation of the dimensional latent structure of the anxiety sensitivity construct. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 16(4), 425-434. (Ruscio, 2002)

2. Lerner, J. S., & Keltner, D. (2001). Fear, anger, and risk. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1), 146-159. (Lerner & Keltner, 2001)

3. Baumeister, R. F., Stillwell, A. M., & Heatherton, T. F. (1994). Guilt: An interpersonal approach. Psychological Bulletin, 115(2), 243-267. (Baumeister, Stillwell, & Heatherton, 1994)