What To Do When People Invalidate You

December 7, 2017

Hello my friends!  I hope your week is treating you well so far and that many of you are participating in the 2017 Holiday Self Care Challenge.  I’ve got so many fun giveaways planned in addition to the daily self care activities this month, so be sure to follow along on Instagram and Facebook (or […]

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Hello my friends!  I hope your week is treating you well so far and that many of you are participating in the 2017 Holiday Self Care Challenge.  I’ve got so many fun giveaways planned in addition to the daily self care activities this month, so be sure to follow along on Instagram and Facebook (or sign up for my emails in the sidebar so you never miss a dang thing!).  
The holidays are a joyful time for so many, but they can also be stressful (hence, the Holiday Self Care challenge!).  This is the time of year when we are likely spending extra time with family and friends, and though that is assuredly a blessing to many, spending time with people who “don’t get you,” amongst difficult family dynamics, or with people who invalidate you can cause a festive occasion to go from amazing to infuriating in no time.  
There are multiple ways someone can invalidate your feelings, but they all have one thing in common:  they all make you feel pretty miserable.  From disrespecting boundaries you have set to simply telling you why you don’t or shouldn’t feel a certain way, being invalidated is just plain frustrating.  The good news?  You don’t have to stay in that frustration and anger.  Once you realize what’s going on, you can effectively deal with the situation…both internally and externally.  And you know what that means:  you can enter any holiday party (or any situation ever) with confidence, knowing exactly how to handle it when people disrespect you.
When invalidation occurs… The moment you are invalidated by someone, it’s like a zillion inner alarm bells go off inside you.  You likely have an intense emotional reaction, become defensive, or just plain angry.  Let me be the first to validate your reaction.  It never feels good to have your feelings disregarded.  It would be easier if everyone agreed with us all the time.  Obvs.  But here’s the thing…as long as we’re alive, we’re probably going to have to deal with having our feelings hurt.  So first thing’s first:  the moment someone invalidates you (and you hear those alarms sounding), take a deep breath or count to 10.  Pause.   Think about what you want to say, or perhaps think about saying nothing at all.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is politely excuse yourself, particularly if the person in question has a pattern of invalidating speech or behavior.  You don’t have to go ape on them, but you don’t have to stand there and continue the conversation either, especially if the current setting is not the time or place to further discuss what they’ve said. 
Further investigate what you are feeling (and why).  It’s so easy to let a person set you off and then let your emotions run away with you.  Trust me, I have been guilty of it many times.  However, this usually gets you nowhere and can add to your feelings of frustration.  Instead, try to figure out exactly what triggered you in a given situation, and what emotions it brought up in you.  I highly recommend using a thought tracker for this.  A thought tracker (or thought record) allows you to process through what happened and how it made you feel.  It forces you to a greater level of emotional intelligence (always a good thing!) so that you will not only understand what happened this time, but have a plan to act (not react) more effectively next time.  
List all the thoughts you are having on your thought tracker, and focus on your “hot thought,” which is the thought that set you off the most or caused the greatest amount of emotion in you.  List all the evidence for this thought being true, and any evidence against this thought being true.  Afterward, write an alternative or balanced thought that takes all the evidence into account.  By this time, you’ll probably have had a “eureeka!” moment and will be well on your way to decreasing the amount of negative emotions you’re feeling.
Decide how you want to move forward.  Once you have done the difficult yet awesome work of figuring out the why behind what you are feeling, you’ll be ready to decide what next steps to take.  Do you want to readdress that conversation with the person who hurt you?  Would you rather focus on an effective game plan for next time?  Think about what course of action will bring you the most peace.  What can quiet those inner alarms?  Whatever you decide is ok, my friends.  Do you and don’t apologize for it.  This is a crucial part of self care that often gets overlooked.  You have permission to decide what is best for you going forward; don’t be afraid to impose a natural consequence or boundary and let it do the hard work for you.  
Forgive and forget.  Last but not least, we must learn to forgive people when they invalidate us.  I know this feels like a monumental task to those of you who have been repeatedly hurt by someone who seems to thrive off of control, manipulation, and invalidation.  But hear this:  you can’t live in peace if you are constantly going over these conversations in your mind.  You can’t thrive yourself if you are stuck in a rut of negative emotions, whatever (or whoever) the cause.  Instead, we must do the hard work of forgiveness.  Perhaps you can write a letter to the person in question, whether you send it or not.  Maybe you can talk things over with a trusted friend or therapist.  Pray.  Journal.  Meditate.  Do what you need to do to move on.  Do what you need to do to stop this from stealing your joy, now and in the future.  Life is too short to withhold forgiveness.
I hope you have found something helpful and encouraging here today, my Besties. Have you learned anything new about what to do when people invalidate you? I know you are brave enough and strong enough to effectively handle your emotions and manage your moods.  Please feel free to let us know how you handle it when people invalidate you in the comments.  We’re all in this together.

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  1. carlin says:

    i would rather withhold forgiveness and let people earn it THE HARD WAY by REGAINING MY TRUST as opposed to just FREELY giving it to anyone who has hurt me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! those who have manipulated and controlled me my whle life can just go AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Cathleen Bearse says:

      I totally hear you!! You need to go with your gut and do what is right for you in your unique situation 🙂

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