Are You Being Appreciated?

ValidationReceiving validation from others plays a key role in developing and maintaining a healthy self image. Growing up, when we receive validation from our family, teachers and friends, we gain confidence in ourselves. We feel more capable, we feel recognized and we feel supported.  If we are invalidated by others, our confidence is eroded.  It is a subtle (yet powerful) form of emotional abuse.

Being invalidated steals your exclamation points!

Unfortunately, the act of invalidation is very common. Invalidation occurs when someone takes you down by labeling you as insignificant, unreasonable, illogical, or somehow wrong.  They tell you that you, your feelings and/or your ideas don’t matter.  They squash your dreams and steal away your voice.

Even the most well-meaning of people sometimes do this.

Have you ever spoken with a friend about something that is upsetting you only to have them brush it off or tell you to “let it go”, “just get over it”, “maybe it’s for the best”, or “shake it off”? You can feel yourself shutting down and withering inside because what they are really saying (even though they may not realize it) is that you shouldn’t feel the way you do.

It’s subtle, perhaps, but it hurts deeply.

Other times, it‘s less subtle. You voice a concern and someone squashes your voice by claiming you’re being unreasonable. You set a boundary and someone tramples right over it.  You share something important and they tell you that it’s silly or stupid.  You strive to follow your dreams and they tell you it’s impossible.  And so on…

Who are you surrounding yourself with in your life? People who cheer you on and support you and your dreams, or people who invalidate you and erode your confidence?  Perhaps a little of both?

Here’s one of the tools that I like to use when someone is crossing my boundaries and invalidating me: “The Stop Sign Hand”. Here’s how it works…

When someone is saying something to me that is inappropriate, unsupportive or off-color, I raise my hand up like a stop sign – palm out and at eye level. The purpose is to stop verbal communication, so I don’t speak when I use it.  It creates a boundary and stops them in their tracks.  Once they’ve stopped, I set a clear boundary within the conversation.

Here are some examples of clear boundaries:

Make a clear verbal statement like, “This conversation is over“ or “I will speak to you when you can be more respectful” or “I will not allow you to speak to me in this manner”. You may choose to simply leave the room. Whatever you choose, it’s important to reclaim your power and advocate for yourself by establishing clear boundaries.



Reclaim Your Exclamation Points!

  1. Take a personal inventory by asking: Who in my life are my biggest champions and supporters? Who are the ones who invalidate me and erode my confidence? Who in my life fits into both categories?
  2. Think back to a recent situation where you felt invalidated. How did you feel? What were the body clues that told you something didn’t feel right (i.e. a tightening in the belly, feeling small and unimportant, heart sinking, etc.). How did you respond to them, if at all?
  3. Start paying attention to your interactions so you notice when you are being invalidated and make a commitment to start taking action and create clear boundaries. Use the Stop Sign Hand, end the conversation, make a clear statement to advocate for your self, and set boundaries or walk away.



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1 Comment
  • Virginia
    Posted at 01:52h, 22 January Reply

    The stop sign with your hand is a wonderful technique. I could see it being used in other situations too.
    You are so right, Remy, that sometimes people don’t recognize when they are diminishing your thoughts and feelings. It does hurt.
    This is a great sentence: Being invalidated steals your exclamation points!

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