Invalidation

By: Erin Rose Hennessy and Emily Eileen Moreshead

Do you ever feel like as an adult you haven’t really outgrown things? Okay, your favorite comfort food aside, I’m talking about something a bit more serious. Invalidation. It’s the adult equivalent to common childhood bullying but in some aspects it never really goes away. In popular television and movies, there’s the token victim and the token mean girl or guy but in real life invalidation can come from not just someone you know in passing but from your own family and friends!

Invalidation can take many forms – as human being are inheritantly selfish beings, we have to work at thinking about how our actions might affect others. Ableism, dismissing someone’s feelings, never checking in, name calling, ignoring them when they bring up a problem – these all can bring a person to feel invalidated. It’s true that individuals are often so wrapped up in their own issues and lives that they may not notice they are doing these things – but it still hurts.

Dismissive words are often used without true inflection or reasoning. Emily’s biggest pet peeve is calling someone “crazy”. Whether said person suffers from a mental illness or not, the term is disparaging, unrelenting, completely overused, and has no real meaning. Any time she hears it used it is often supposed to mean going against the grain, or appearing not in tune with others, neither of which are negative at all!

One of the biggest human psychological needs is to be heard, understood, valued, and yes, validated. Even if we don’t agree – we still want to feel like our opinion is important. We also want to feel respected. Erin is hard of hearing – and as most of you readers can probably imagine, does not feel respected when people tell her to “listen better” when she asks them to repeat words. Or accuse her of “not listening,” when she didn’t hear them in the first place. Why should someone need to be reminded four times that someone is hard of hearing and that they need eye contact to understand?

A basic understanding of human kindness is what seems to be lacking in society, specifically in the younger generations who aren’t being taught tact.

We need to be better than this – and there are many special people who are, who can rise up and encourage others to do the same. Yes, it’s important to care for yourself and your needs, but remember that you are one of over 6 billion people on the planet. And some of those people love you and want to know you love them back. So, reach out today and make sure someone knows you appreciate them. Validate them!

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