I used to think that emotional abuse and neglect were cut and dried things that were obvious, and that emotional validation was…well, validating the person, right? Only, I discovered how vague my understanding was and how I, in many cases, was guilty of invalidating others because it can be so inconspicuous. I’ve extracted pertinent passages from this website that has the most comprehensive material I’ve come across on emotional abuse and bpd (borderline personality disorder).
Invalidation is to reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge, or diminish someone’s feelings. It is an attempt to control how they feel and for how long they feel it.
Constant invalidation may be one of the most significant reasons a person with high innate emotional intelligence suffers from unmet emotional needs later in life. A sensitive child who is repeatedly invalidated becomes confused and begins to distrust his own emotions. He fails to develop confidence in and healthy use of his emotional brain– one of nature’s most basic survival tools. To adapt to this unhealthy and dysfunctional environment, the working relationship between his thoughts and feelings becomes twisted. His emotional responses, emotional management, and emotional development will likely be seriously, and perhaps permanently, impaired.
[…] Psychiatrist R.D. Laing said that when we invalidate people or deny their perceptions and personal experiences, we make mental invalids of them. He found that when one’s feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even they are perfectly mentally healthy.
[…] Invalidation goes beyond mere rejection by implying not only that our feelings are disapproved of, but that we are fundamentally abnormal. This implies that there is something wrong with us because we aren’t like everyone else; we are strange; we are different; we are weird.
None of this feels good, and all of it damages us. The more different from the mass norm a person is, for example, more intelligent or more sensitive, the more he is likely to be invalidated. When we are invalidated by having our feelings repudiated, we are attacked at the deepest level possible, since our feelings are the innermost expression of our individual identities.
Psychological invalidation is one of the most lethal forms of emotional abuse. It kills confidence, creativity and individuality.
Telling a person she shouldn’t feel the way she does feel is akin to telling water it shouldn’t be wet, grass it shouldn’t be green, or rocks they shouldn’t be hard. Each person’s feelings are real. Whether we like or understand someone’s feelings, they are still real.
Good guidelines when dealing with emotions are: