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  • annettefick

Understanding the Trauma of Chronic Invalidation

Updated: Mar 20


Introduction

In the intricate tapestry of human emotions, validation is a crucial thread that weaves connections, fosters a sense of belonging, and builds our sense of self. When we are consistently invalidated, it can lead to profound emotional wounds. Chronic invalidation, the persistent dismissal or negation of your feelings, experiences, and identity, has far-reaching consequences that can permeate every aspect of your life. In this blog post, we delve into the traumatic effects of chronic invalidation and explore how it shapes the emotional landscape of those who experience it.


What is Chronic Invalidation

Chronic invalidation is more than occasional disagreements or differing opinions; it is a pervasive pattern of dismissing, belittling, or denying your emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It often occurs in interpersonal relationships, where you may find their feelings minimized, ignored, or unwarranted. Over time, the cumulative impact of chronic invalidation can erode your sense of self-worth and create lasting emotional scars.



“When we listen, we hear someone into existence.” - Laurie Buchanan, PhD

Examples of Invalidation


1. Minimizing Feelings

 ☐ Others telling you your feelings are not a big deal.

 ☐ Being told you are overreacting or being too sensitive.


2. Denying Experiences

 ☐ Dismissing experiences or saying it did not happen.

 ☐ Being told you are imagining things.


3. Patronizing Remarks

 ☐ Receiving condescending comments that undermine your abilities or intelligence.

 ☐ Being spoken to in a dismissive or belittling tone.


4. Stereotyping and Labeling

 ☐ Others making assumptions about you based on stereotypes.

 ☐ Being labelled with derogatory terms that do not reflect your identity.


5. Ignoring Boundaries

 ☐ Having your personal boundaries disregarded or violated.

 ☐ Your opinions or requests are ignored.


6. Selective Validation

 ☐ Only receiving acknowledgment or approval when you conform to external expectations.

 ☐ Your achievements are downplayed or attributed to external factors.


7. Comparisons and Competition

 ☐ Constantly being compared to others in a way that diminishes your worth.

 ☐ Downplaying your success by comparing it to others' accomplishments.


8. Interrupting and Dismissing

 ☐ Being consistently interrupted when expressing yourself.

 ☐ Others dismissing your thoughts or ideas without consideration.


9. Blaming the Victim

 ☐ Being told you caused or deserved negative experiences.

 ☐ Feeling like your struggles are attributed solely to personal failure.


10. Silent Treatment

 ☐ Experiencing prolonged periods of being ignored or ostracized.

 ☐ Feeling isolated due to a lack of communication or acknowledgment.




What are the Affects of Chronic Invalidation?


Research shows that chronic invalidation is not just challenging, but it can change your brain and nervous system in ways similar to the effects of other traumatic experiences. It triggers stress responses within the body, leading to changes in neural pathways associated with emotional regulation and self-perception. Chronic invalidation is not merely an emotional hardship, but it has a far-reaching impact on your mental and emotional well-being. 


1. Undermined Self-Worth

Constant invalidation sends a powerful message that your feelings are inconsequential, leading to a diminished sense of self-worth, where you may start to feel invisible. 


2. Identity Erosion

 As chronic invalidation persists, you may doubt your identity and sense of self. The relentless denial of your thoughts and emotions can create a disconnect between who you are and who you believe they should be, creating confusion and internal conflict.


3. Emotional Dysregulation

 The lack of validation can make it challenging for you to regulate your emotions. If you are constantly unable to express yourself authentically, you may struggle with emotional outbursts, intense mood swings, or even emotional numbness as a means of self-protection and the attempt to get your needs met.


4. Interpersonal Challenges

 Chronic invalidation often plays out in relationships, impacting how you relate to others. You may find it difficult to trust, express vulnerability, or establish healthy relationships because you fear rejection.


5. Psychological Toll

 The psychological toll of chronic invalidation can manifest in anxiety, depression, personality disorders, and other mental health problems. You may develop a heightened sensitivity to rejection and criticism, perpetuating a cycle of emotional distress.


Conclusion

Chronic invalidation is a form of trauma that we often minimize and overlook as significant. It can leave deep emotional scars, affecting the very core of your being. By shedding light on this pervasive issue and fostering understanding, we can work towards creating environments that nurture validation, empathy, and emotional well-being. Breaking free from the shackles of chronic invalidation is a journey towards self-discovery, boundaries, trust, and reclaiming the power of your authentic self.

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