Invalidating Comments: A Form of Emotional Abuse
In efforts to divert a close one’s troubles, we often write off their feelings through invalidating comments which are debilitating to the human psyche.
Understanding invalidating comments
Certain language and words are injurious and insulting to our miseries, making us feel that our emotions are invalid. These invalidating comments may include phrases such as, “at least it’s not…” or, “you’re being too sensitive,” “it could be worse,” or asking them to be grateful for other things instead- we are writing off their troubles by making them seem invalid. When we are feeling low, the last thing we need to hear is invalidating comments from those who we expect support and closure.
This practice of passing invalidating comments is a form of emotional abuse as it involves telling someone that their internal experiences and feelings are not important. Suffering and hardships are behind our feelings, and of course, the ranges of such sufferings vary greatly from person to person. But just because someone else has it worse does not detract from the struggles that we are facing, and our feelings are genuine despite how others consider or view our situation. It is very common for many of us to not know when invalidating comments are being passed, or in the worse case, think that it is normal. Moreover, these emotionally dismissive people may not recognize their behaviour, which makes these comments all the more insidious.
The person who invalidates is often not aware of the emotional abuse they are causing; they are in the misconception that they are genuinely helping us and do not intend to insult our injuries and feelings. That is why invalidating comments can be hard to call out or confront- the perpetrator often does unintentionally. Remember, this is different from individuals intentionally invalidating our experiences.
The best way to respond to invalidating comments is to communicate to the other person that they’re emotionally invalidating you. Validating someone or their feelings doesn’t mean you lie or agree with them, instead, it means to accept someone’s experience as genuine. Surround yourself with people who support and understand this, and who are kind, encouraging, and validating.
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