Invalidation

Asking for Validation


Question:
Why is it that everyone always tells me what to do. If I complain about something, no one hears what I’m really saying. They just want tell me how to “solve the problem” whether the solution is realistic or not. I don’t feel like talking to anyone anymore.


Answer:
So many people do not know how to respond to the feelings of another person. They just try to solve the problem or give advice which comes off sounding like they’re patronizing you. Not having any training or role models for appropriate responses to others, I’ve even had people just say, "you couldn't really feel that way." It seems like they don’t know just how hurtful invalidation can be.

My mother grew up in a way that she was responsible for solving everyone’s problems to the extreme. When I’m talking to her, she sometimes instantly moves into that “problem solving” mode. I end up feeling invalidated.

Over time, with the help of Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, “The Four Agreements,” I have learned that I don’t need to take things that others say to me personally. Like with my mom, she’s really just doing what she was trained to do all her life. Her response isn’t really about me. This doesn’t mean I’m making excuses for her. I still suffer because I open myself to her and feel pain at what I assume to be negative feelings for me.

Assuming gets me nowhere, though. When I can access my Wise Mind, I realize that there is no way my mom can know what I really want from her. I don’t know what’s happened in her day and if I just let it slide, the rift between us widens.


As difficult as it can be, I need to tell her what I want. I have to say, “Mom, I appreciate your effort in trying to help me, but all I really want is some validation for my feelings.” Sometimes she’ll be mad because she thinks I’m not appreciating her solution and we end up at an impasse. But other times, she laughs at herself and says she’s sorry.

All I need her to say is something like "That sounds really hard. I'm sorry you're going through that right now." Sounds incredibly simple but I know that if she just said that, I'd be a happy camper all day. Validating others is so easy and requires so little effort. But no one seems to be aware of it. I guess we have to try to educate the people in our lives about validation so we can be happier.


-Lisa

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