When it comes to emotional wellbeing, invalidation is one of the biggest threats to our mental, emotional, and physical health. Emotional invalidation is the process of disregarding or denying the emotional responses of another person. It is an extremely damaging form of emotional abuse, because it leaves the person feeling unheard, unseen, and ultimately, bent under the control of another person with no real tools to defend themselves.
In this article, we'll be looking at three forms of emotional invalidation that should never be tolerated: gaslighting, dismissive language, and patronizing behavior.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation and emotional abuse wherein the abuser convinces the victim that he or she is wrong, crazy, or mentally unstable, even when they know they’re right. Gaslighting starts subtly, slowly convincing you that your feelings, opinions, and memories are not real. The abuser slowly chips away at your self-confidence and slowly makes you feel like you don't have the ability to think or trust yourself. Gradually these gaslighting tactics turn into a larger power imbalance where the abuser is firmly in control.
Gaslighting often comes in subtle forms like changing details in certain conversations and making you question your recollection of events. This can include phrases such as “You don’t remember correctly” or “That never happened”. In the long run, these small, seemingly harmless comments cause significant emotional distress and confusion.
Dismissive language is a form of emotional invalidation wherein someone literally dismisses or ignores a person's feelings. It can sound something like “Why are you so emotional? Stop making a scene. This isn't a big deal.” Dismissive language is extremely damaging because it implies that whatever the person is feeling or saying doesn't matter. This can lead to the person feeling invalidated and unheard. It can also lead to self-doubt and insecurity.
The best way to combat dismissive language is to take a deep breath and remain calm. Remind the other person that their words have an impact, and ask them to be considerate. Let them know that dismissing your feelings is not acceptable or okay.
Patronizing behavior is when someone speaks to you in a condescending manner or treats you like you are inferior. It can include speaking to you in a patronizing tone, belittling you, or simply disregarding what you have to say. It's rooted in superiority and is often used to manipulate and make someone feel less powerful or inferior.
In order to combat patronizing behavior, it’s important to remember that you are in control of how you respond to it. Stay calm, be assertive, and don’t let the other person's words affect you. Remember that patronizing behavior is a sign that the other person feels threatened by you and your opinion, and try to look at it from that perspective.
Emotional invalidation is an incredibly harmful form of abuse that needs to be taken seriously. If you feel like you are being subjected to any form of emotional invalidation, be sure to reach out for help. Know that you deserve respect, and don't allow yourself to be put down in any way. Remember that your emotions and thoughts are valid, and that you should always be listened to and taken seriously.