Invalidating the self


“You’re over-reacting.” “That’s totally irrational.” “There’s no reason to be upset.” If you have anxiety, chances are you’ve been hearing these kinds of statements for as long as you’ve struggled with the disorder.

It’s called emotional invalidation, and for most of us, it starts in childhood, with parents and other adults.

Whatever form the invalidating takes, a child growing up in an invalidating environment learns that his emotions are somehow incorrect, perhaps not even worth considering.

As he grows up, this self-belief may lead him to distrust his own feelings. An emotionally invalidating environment in childhood is believed to be one of the life experiences that put people at risk for developing BPD.

An emotionally invalidating environment is any situation involving other people in which they respond to your expressions of emotion inappropriately or inconsistently.Invalidation can cause you to be ashamed of your emotions, or to believe that what you’re feeling is wrong.(For children this is particularly confusing.) It can also send the signal that your emotions don’t matter, or that no one cares about what you’re feeling.This is true for me – growing up, I was a sensitive kid and I cried easily.But instead of feeling supported in those moments, I was told that I was too sensitive, that I needed to stop crying, that I shouldn’t be upset.Whether you have a habit of invalidating yourself or others, or if you feel invalidated by the people in your life, keep these things in mind: You may not be able to erase invalidation from your past, but you don’t have to continue to be a victim of it.

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