Not Validating the Invalid

Written by Karyn Hall

May 11, 2021

When you enter into a conversation, what is your intention? When interacting with certain people, such as the representative for your cell phone bill, your priority is getting your bill fixed (a task) not maintaining a relationship. At other times the relationship is more important than getting an answer or solving a problem.

GIVE is the DBT skill for maintaining and prioritizing relationships. Today is all about the V in GIVE. The V stands for Validation. Today’s blog is about misconceptions about validation or how we get it all wrong.

The most misunderstood idea about validation that I’ve come across is that you should be validated, that other people are wrong to invalidate you. OOPS.

Invalidation is when someone tells you that your experience (thoughts, feelings, actions) are wrong and they can’t understand. It can hurt. 

The truth is that you will be invalidated and you will invalidate others. You can’t know the truth for other people and so you’ll make mistakes. Sometimes you won’t even know you’ve invalidated someone. You’ll be invalidated by others who don’t understand. And sometimes you’ll be invalidated because you are wrong. Being given feedback when you are incorrect is one of the ways we learn, so being invalidated is a part of our growth. It’s important to learn how to deal with being invalidated, because it’s part of life.

If you tell me that you think you are a loser because your cookies didn’t turn out right, I don’t want to validate that because that is not reasonable. If you tell your family that you are going to quit your job because you hate it, when you need the money to pay your bills, they may very well not validate that action. 

You also don’t want to validate someone’s statement or thought that a mutual acquaintance is a selfish witch if you haven’t experienced her that way. That would be validating the invalid, from your perspective.

Validation is also not about just agreeing with people, being a doormat, or even about being all warm and fuzzy. Sometimes you validate difficult ideas, such as that life can be painful. Yes, it can.

Validation is about truth and about recognizing the truth of others when you can. That kind of validation builds trust and relationships.  

Live a skill-full life

 

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