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The Impact: Understanding its Effects on Mental and Physical Well-being
In our journey towards feeling good mentally and emotionally, it’s important to understand how chronic invalidation can have a big impact. Invalidation refers to the process of denying, rejecting, or dismissing someone’s feelings. When people experience chronic invalidation over a long time, it can affect their overall health. This blog aims to explain the damaging effects of chronic invalidation and how it affects our mental and physical well-being.
Invalidation can happen in different situations and relationships. Here are some examples:
- Dismissing or minimizing feelings: When someone expresses their emotions, and another person responds with statements like “You’re overreacting” or “It’s not a big deal,” it invalidates their feelings.
- Denying someone’s experiences: Invalidating someone’s experiences by saying things like “That never happened” or “You’re making it up” dismisses their reality and can make them question their own perceptions.
- Belittling or mocking: Making fun of someone’s feelings or experiences, or belittling their concerns, can be extremely invalidating. It undermines their emotions and makes them feel insignificant.
- Unsolicited problem solving: While advice can be helpful, constantly offering solutions without acknowledging or validating the person’s feelings first can come across as dismissive. It’s important to listen and empathize before jumping to problem-solving.
- Shifting the blame: Invalidating someone by shifting the blame onto them or making them feel responsible for their own negative experiences can be harmful. It dismisses their feelings and avoids addressing the underlying issues.
- Comparison or one-upping: When someone shares their struggles or challenges, responding with “You think that’s bad? Let me tell you what I’ve been through” diminishes their experiences and fails to provide the support and validation they need.
- Ignoring or avoiding discussions: Choosing to ignore or avoid conversations about difficult or sensitive topics can make the person feel unheard and invalidated. It’s essential to create an open and safe space for open dialogue and understanding.
- Gaslighting: Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that aims to make someone doubt their own feelings, memories, or perceptions. It can involve denying events or making the person question their sanity, further invalidating their experiences.
Remember, invalidation can happen without intending to be hurtful. It’s important to create caring and understanding relationships where we listen to and respect each other’s feelings.
The Connection to Long-term Health Problems:
Research has shown a significant connection between chronic invalidation and poor health outcomes. Individuals who constantly feel invalidated may experience heightened stress levels, which, over time, can lead to various health problems. Chronic stress has been associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, weakened immune function, and mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression (Zielinski et al., 2023). Taking steps to recognize and tackle chronic invalidation is crucial for our overall well-being.
More Stress and Social Pressure
People who experience a lot of invalidation often have more stress in their lives. These stressors can be both internal and external, leading to an overwhelming sense of pressure. Moreover, the experience of chronic invalidation can also contribute to social stress. When people consistently feel dismissed or rejected, it can strain their social relationships and leading to feelings of loneliness (Zielinski et al., 2023). It’s important to recognize this and find ways to foster understanding and connection.
The Role of Rumination:
Chronic invalidation can trigger rumination, a process where people repeatedly dwell on negative thoughts and experiences. This rumination loop, or overthinking, can be detrimental to mental well-being as it perpetuates negative thinking patterns and amplifies emotional distress. Breaking free from this cycle often requires a supportive environment that acknowledges and validates our emotions.
Why Support Matters:
If we experience chronic invalidation, it’s important to have support from our partners, friends, and family. A supportive network can play a crucial role in counteracting the negative effects of chronic invalidation. Having a support system that understands and validates our feelings can make a world of difference. It helps us heal, boosts our self-esteem, and rebuilds our sense of safety and trust.
Constant invalidation can have a profound impact on our mental and physical health. It’s essential to recognize this and create a more compassionate and validating society. By acknowledging and validating each other’s emotions, we can build a supportive environment that promotes healing and resilience. Remember, your feelings are valid, and you deserve to be heard and understood. If you or someone you know is struggling with chronic invalidation, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for support. Together, we can create a world where empathy and validation are valued, and everyone’s well-being is prioritized.
Zielinski, M. J., Veilleux, J. C., Fradley, M. F., & Skinner, K. D. (2023). Perceived emotion invalidation predicts daily affect and stressors. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 36(2), 214-228.
Written by: Kelsey Dyck, RCC Candidate
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