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Author Topic: COMMUNICATION: Validation - stop invalidating others  (Read 19258 times)
united for now
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« on: September 21, 2008, 01:04:47 PM »

When we say that you are being "invalidating" to your partner, we aren't saying that you are being intentionally mean or cruel to them. Most of the time we are just trying to explain ourselves or correct a misunderstanding and it comes across as invalidating to the pwBPD.

Some examples of invalidating responses:
"I didn't mean it that way!"
"... but that's not..."
"This is what happened"
"NO, you've go it wrong!"
"I AM doing it right"
"you're not doing that right. Let me do it for you"
"I was only trying to..."
"Why can't you just let it go?"
"why do you always have to do this?"
or it may just be the way we sigh, raise our eyebrow, or even worse - roll our eyes  rolleyes


Something as inconsequential as adjusting the temperature can be seen as invalidating someone's feelings. If the pwBPD is cold and turns up the heat in the house, then you come home and turn it down, your actions are essentially saying "they shouldn't be feeling cold"... when in reality they "are" cold.

Invalidation often comes up when there has been a misunderstanding between two people. Both people believe they are right and the other person is wrong. Both people work to get the other person to change their minds and come to an agreement with them. How often have you been in a conversation where the more you tried to explain something, the less the other person seemed to hear you and the angrier they got? When we try to justify ourselves, or explain or defend ourselves, we are telling the other person "they are wrong" and invalidating their beliefs.

You may very well be right, but when dealing with a person who is extremely sensitive, quick to react, always looking for criticism, and easily dysregulated, your words come across as invalidating to them.

Feelings and emotions can never be wrong. They are based on our beliefs and our interpretations of things, so telling someone that you don't agree with what they are saying means their feelings are wrong. How can a feeling be wrong?

Quote
Telling a person she shouldn't feel the way she does feel is akin to telling water it shouldn't be wet, grass it shouldn't be green, or rocks they shouldn't be hard. Each person's feelings are real. Whether we like or understand someone's feelings, they are still real. Rejecting feelings is rejecting reality; it is to fight nature and may be called a crime against nature, "psychological murder", or "soul murder." Considering that trying to fight feelings, rather than accept them, is trying to fight all of nature, you can see why it is so frustrating, draining and futile.


We need to accept that a pwBPD doesn’t think the same way we do, and that while many of the arguments seem to come from nowhere, or make little sense, they are often triggered by us when we inadvertently use an invalidating response. A pwBPD and a non speak different languages.  When the person with bpd is triggered, they express themselves from a position of pure emotions and primitive defenses. There is no logic to what they are feeling, which is why they have trouble articulating and expressing themselves. Often, even they don’t know why or where the feelings are coming from.  

We, on the other hand, try to approach the situation from a logical staNPDoint.  We believe that if we can just find the right words or phrases, that our argument/words will suddenly make sense to the BP and the fight will end.  We might as well be speaking Polish to them though, since they are in an emotional state and we are defending with logic.  See the problem here? Our own defenses make things worse, since we use terms and defenses that invalidate how the BP "feels".  

The more we try to explain and defend ourselves, the worse things actually become.  We throw fuel on the fire by invalidating their opinions, beliefs, statements, ideas, suggestions, or emotions.

They are emotional - we are logical. Two different attempts to communicate.

There are also times when the pwBPD may not be accurately expressing themselves, causing us to respond to what we heard, not what they actually feel. So when asked "how are you?" they mumble "OK" instead of their true feelings of sadness or fear. Then later on when they explode and accuse us of not caring how they feel we are left confused - but we asked and you said you were OK!"  ?
It's not possible to prevent "all" instances of invalidation.

To help stop things from getting worse we need to begin by recognizing what we are doing wrong. Before we can validate, we must stop invalidating.


Words and phrases that are invalidating to others (not just those with bpd):

*ordering them to feel differently- "Don't be mad. Get over it."

*ordering them to look differently- "don't look so sad."

*denying their perception or defending - "that's not what I meant"

*making them feel guilty- "I tried to help you"

*trying to isolate them- "you are the only one who feels that way"

*minimizing their feeling- "you must be kidding"

*using reason- "you are not being rational"

*debating- "I don't always do that"

*judging and labeling them- "you're too sensitive"

*turning things around- "you're making a big deal out of nothing"

*trying to get them to question themselves- "why can't you just get over it?"

*telling them how they should feel- "you should be happy"

*defending the other person- "she didn't mean it that way"

*negating, denial, and confusion- "now you know that isn't true"

*sarcasm and mocking- "you poor baby"

*laying guilt trips- "don't you ever think of anyone else?"

*philosophizing and cliches- "time heals all wounds"

*talking about them when they can hear it- "you can't say anything to her"

*showing intolerance- "I am sick of hearing about it"

*trying to control how long someone feels about something- "you should be over that by now"

*explanation- "maybe it's because _______ "



Actually, go through each of those invalidating statements/responses and think about how it feels/how it felt when someone (not necessarily the disordered person in your life)  used those statements on you!



Even if you aren't part of the problem - you can be part of the solution  smiley




To see the whole web site for deeper understanding:
http://eqi.org/invalid.htm#Examples%20of%20invalidating%20expressions.


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united for now
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2008, 01:13:19 PM »

Flip side.

I know many of you will say that these tactics are used against us.
Yes, they are...

While difficult to accept at times, the pwBPD is mentally ill. That's not a "get out of jail free" card, nor does it mean that they shouldn't be held accountable. It's just that their defenses are such that they are constantly on the look out for even a hint of invalidation. Over time, feelings of betrayal and resentment can build on both sides.

So yes - as unfair as it is - the burden falls on us as the healthy healthier ones to make the necessary changes - if we want to make things better that is... or if we need to get along because the bpd person in our life isn't going away (for instance, when the person is an ex with whom we share children).

Nothing changes without changes...


Tools: Validation - what to validate
http://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=81610.0

Tools: how to communicate with our BPDSO: the power of 3, consistency and validation
http://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=81610.0
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2008, 01:36:40 PM »

 With me i usually try to defend my self, in return i am invaladating him not listening or what ever, usually the best thing is just to not say anything let them talk when they are upset, and just keep saying i understand, i am there right with you,, half the time i find myself thinking the same thing my husband is and agreeing but somewhere along the line i invaladated him because we are arguing about argreeing on the same thing,,, ? ? ? ?  and sometimes my husband just needs to explode get it out and me talking isn't helping, i was told i would be his theropist and that i am... and let me tell you sitting there listening to a raging person isn't easy wears you down but soon the episode is over and on you go ... like i said with my husband over half are arguments are agreeing on the same thing but somewhere i invaladated him and we are arguing before i know it...
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2008, 01:44:15 PM »

I am sooo guilty of this...except for the sarcasm and mocking. It's so hard not to defend when they are accusing you of certain things that arent true or say you "never" do this or that for them...for example, my H yesterday claimed I'm affectionate anymore  ? OMG I'm constantly hugging him, kissing him, etc. I bit my lip and just listened to his complaint but I wanted so bad to give him hundreds of examples of when I'm affectionate. Instead I said, "I understand how you may feel I'm not as affectionate anymore, I'll try to keep it in mind"  barfy  Practice makes perfect...hopefully I get the hang of it.
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2008, 02:37:10 PM »

Yes, sometimes they are just looking for a fight, and no amount of validating will suffice :smiley  That is when you take a time out for self protections sake. Don't sit there and be an emotional punching bag. When you see them getting more and more agaited, and when your words begin to be flung back at you - disengage. Don't stay - don't listen further - don't believe their accusations or FOG - get away and allow them the time to calm themselves down.

Knowing when to continue trying to validate, and when to run comes easier the more you practice it.


Tools: how to take a time out
http://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=84942.0
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2008, 03:15:55 PM »

Okay - I will admit I invalidate him - because if I am "pushed", I tend to push back. I can TOTALLY relate to stoic's comments: How much can a person take of doing nice and loving things for their spouse, only to have it all denied the next day?

Like stoic, it goes against my instincts to "bite my lip" and keep quiet and not argue and defend myself. If a real therapist struggles, what hope is there for me?

Now, having vented, I realize that UFN is providing a great feast of learning for us nons; and UFN is correctly explaining that this period of healing (validating our BPD SO) will need to last long enough to bring them back into a place where they feel safe with us again.

Once we get to that point - if we get to that point - I know things will have to be different because I am not going back into the FOG.

I also have a couple of basic boundaries in place: I will not be verbally abused (yelled at or silent rage); and I will take time for myself without feeling guilty. Funny, we seemed to agree about that, once I asked for it, because it took the "unknown" - the fear of abandonment out of the equation.

Why have I managed to cripple my own efforts these past couple of weeks? Just when I was gaining an understanding of the dynamics and a real compassion for his pain, I have done exactly the opposite of what I intended to do to move forward in the marriage.

I can only think it is because I am too impatient. I want the results NOW. I feel that I have lost months, maybe a year or more, going nowhere in our marriage.

They say a little knowledge is dangerous. It must be true, because I have gotten a LOT better at invalidating my spouse now that I know what will really push his buttons.

I feel bad, I feel remorse. I will have to find a way to apologize, though I doubt he will want to hear from me.





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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2008, 04:16:49 PM »

I think that sometimes we invalidate someone because we are frustrated and angry at them, and we just don't want to deal with their issues anymore. We also aren't being very empathetic and trying to  see things from their perspective.

We assume that if we can deal with it, that they should be able to also.
Unfortunately that is rarely the case.
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« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2008, 05:08:39 PM »

How often do you use the word "but" when speaking to someone else?

Do you realize that when you say it, that you are actually disagreeing and invalidating the other person?

I see what you're saying, but, I think we should do it this way...
Yeah, but...
OK, but...
You seem ok, but...

Yes, but no...

I agree, but I don't agree...

You're right, but you're wrong...

When you say the word "but" to a BPD, you have just taken all the good out of your original statements and turned them negative.
It was a great Thanksgiving dinner. The rolls were warm, the turkey was juicy, the table looked great, the wine was superb, but - the room was chilly. Now what is the hostess going to remember? That you liked the effort she went through, or that the room was cold? She's gonna focus on the negative and forget the positive. (True of any hostess, not only one with bpd.)  A spoonful of honey won't make the medicine go down well with someone with BPD.

Validating a person means working to see things from their perspective, and and agreeing with their right to feel or believe whatever they feel or believe or agreeing that any normal person would feel that way too. To then inject "but" into it, destroys and good will you hope to gain by validating them.

To break the habit of using this term, try to see the word as a big, fat, hairy, ugly butt. This imagine will help you remember that we are working towards eliminating that word from our vocabulary. You need to be aware of using it, before you can stop.

So...  How often do you use the term BUT?
Does the BP get upset?
Do you get your point across?
Do you think that you can change?

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« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2008, 05:46:41 PM »

Good points, United! I've noticed "but" doesn't work well with me either--it does take away from the positives that have just been said. I try to avoid it, because it does the same for my partner.

Peacebaby
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« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2008, 05:54:12 PM »

I have to admit that I like big buts, and I cannot lie.  grin

So, if youre a big ole but man, what do you suggest using?
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« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2008, 08:29:52 PM »

However, yet, and still, are "buts" in disguise  8)
Which means you can't use them either.

So what is a poor "but" man to do?

Validate the person sincerely, and let it really sink in. Allow time to be your friend, since they will feel more open to hearing your views after they have been heard. Let them express and expound on their point some more, before you begin in with your opposing views.

You: You have a valid point.
Them: (defensive still) Of course I do. Blah, blah, blah.
You: yes, I can see how you would think that way.
Them: (somewhat defensive) Yes, and if you would agree with me, then we ...
You: Uh huh. I do understand. I wonder though, if maybe you've thought of ...

By allowing them to feel listened to and understood, they lower their defenses and are more open to listening to you. If you express your views in a nonthreatening way, using the "wonder tool", it also allows them to evaluate what you are proposing, without feeling pressured or controlled.

So, break your booty habit.
Think before you speak.
Eliminate the "but" from your life to reduce the arguments and increase the opportunity for compromise and agreements.


Tools: Validation - what to validate
http://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=81610.0

Tools: how to communicate with our BPDSO: the power of 3, consistency and validation
http://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=81610.0
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« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2008, 08:51:31 PM »

 YOu know how much i want to use the word but? only because this is my husband favorite word evey time he apologize then i hear the word but.. i usually hear it when he is angry at me, now i thought what if i used this word i can tell you he would       explode i know i did it once to show him what it is like didn't work... so i don't use the word but i never did anyway... but you are right it really hurts when you hear it because you think okay he realized he is wrong but then that but comes into the picture so you get no apology at all...
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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2008, 09:54:49 AM »

My H gets furious when I use the word "but", so thx for this post. Like PD that's one of the words I use a lot. I guess it's my way of validating what he's feeling and then explaining my side. But you're right...in their mind we're taking away what we just validated. I'm going to really have to practice on this one. What you're saying is validate, validate, validate...then once defenses are down we bring up what's bothering us?
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« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2008, 10:37:27 AM »

EXACTLY

Validate - validate- and validate while also using intense listening allows them to feel heard, and lowers their defenses so that they CAN listen to you later on. Trying to explain yourself too soon is a waste of time.

Just be safe about things, and don't allow yourself to be abused while you listen.
Here is a new site I discovered that has some pretty good ideas
http://eqi.org/invalid.htm
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« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2008, 11:37:04 AM »

WOW, United.  Wow.

My bpdw has told me outright, she hates when I use the word "but."  And I do it a lot.  I know I do.  And then, after trying to not use the word "but" I started to try to find sneaky ways around it.  I would agree with her for a moment then say "maybe, however..."  which is exactly the same.  It's a but in disguise.

You can put a pretty dress on a big, ugly, hairy butt, but it's still an ass.  Can I say that?   angel

This is great advice.  If we're saying "but" it means we're probably not listening to how our SO actually feels... we're just waiting until they're done so we can say our own piece and disagree with them.  That's not ever going to get a good response from a BPD.  We need to ACTUALLY stop and listen to them and validate their feelings before they will ever be able to hear anything we have to say.  It sucks, but it's the truth.

Now, that website you came across is pure gold, United.  I've only read through a few paragraphs on it, but I find myself TOTALLY agreeing with it all.  My BPDw, in talking about her childhood, has tons of stories about how her parents invalidated her.  They were awful parents, honestly, and would snap at her with all of the comments given in the article as examples.  Now she thinks that kind of invalidation is normal, and she does it to me all the time.  The whole friggin' family, with like 100 brothers and cousins and aunts and uncles ALL THINK IT'S NORMAL.  Ugh.  It's not, it perpetuates a terrible cycle of emotional abuse.  Wonder how many of her relatives are BPD because of it.

Anyway.  It hits the nail on the head right there.  I also find it interesting that "invalidate" is so close to the word "invalid"...  the old-fashioned word for a disabled person.  Yup, enough invalidation, and that child is now an invalid.  Fitting.
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« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2008, 01:11:34 PM »

I like to use the word "and" instead..

" I really love living in Minnesota but I love my home town of Seattle"

VS " I really love living in Minnesota AND I love my home town of Seattle"

" I really think that I made the right decision but I wish I didnt have to do this"

VS" I really think I made the right decision AND I wish I didnt have to do this"

Steph Who had a meaningful trip out west but   and is home now.
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« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2008, 02:41:39 PM »

I have learned over time when to stay and listen so he can just vent or when no matter what i say or do i usually can see it coming i have to leave due to you are right at times they just no matter what need to explode and you did nothing and no matter what no amount of valadation will work, and there are times i am just in no mood either to sit and be his T so i leave just to avoid a melt down, rage attack because if i am not strong enough or just in a bad mood or what ever we are human i have to leave or i will do something to trigger his rage,,,   this use to be weekly then monthly now it is about once every three to four months . that i have to leave the situation let him vent he will then get on the phone to his mom who doesn'[t listen to him anymore either and she is BPD i beleive... so usually before i head home i have to call him and see if he has calmed down usually no and i then let him vent on the  phone to me but i don't listen if he leaves a long mesagge i hang up on the answer machion. or if i have to listen to him vent i will put the phone down and let me tell you he can go on for a easy hour but then it is over and on with life we go. and during this time he is raging he doesn't even know i put the phone down and i don't have to listen to all that stuff  ... because it can really wear me down,,,
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« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2008, 05:56:44 AM »

I have always detested those hornery little members of the conjunctions family!

From a very young age my parents constantly used the words "but", "just" and "because"... I was very interested in the english language as a child and researched these words as I wanted to find out why they inspired such painful emotions in me when my parents used them to talk to me. I finally came upon the idea of invalidation... eureka, I finally understood why it hurt so much, and ever since I have tried hard to remove them from my vocabulary.

Then 2 1/2 years ago I met my uBPD SO... and what are her favourite words? You guessed it...

"I'm sorry I hurt you but you don't understand how stressed I am!"

"I know I keep taking everything out on you, I just feel really down at the moment."

and the worst ones?

"I'm sorry but..."

"I'm sorry I just..."

I have lost count of the times I have said to my SO, you apologise, and then completely negate the value of your apology by justifying your behaviour...

Now when she goes to use the words but or just I immediately jump in with "Uh oh, what was that word you used?" EVERYTIME, I never let it go now, can't bear it when she says them... the amazing thing to me is how hard she finds it to actually say a sentence without using them lmao

I manage to not use them about 90% of the time I think and, although it's not an excuse, I have noticed that it is at points of extreme frustration that I relapse into using them... and it NEVER helps, only escalates  :smiley
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« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2009, 11:25:36 AM »



This is a very good workshop and I have been able to identify how I interacted with my ex on every single point in some way or another while the "flip side" is true as well in that my ex used to interact with me in the same way but from the "other side" of logical perception.

It's also very good for re-learning how to communicate with everyone and not just the BPD sufferer and especially in re-learning how to communicate with myself.  Something that helps me is that, if I can re-train my inner dialog then it will begin to manifest outwardly and eventually become first nature.

That's the goal for me.

When at first I would try so hard to understand where my ex would be coming from, then becoming exasperated as I didn't know what was really going on, these things were my fall back just to "get it to end."

Obviously, the outcome was predictable and it only escalated and whatever the issue was, it never truly ended...only got buried to resurface again and again.

Thank you very much for this workshop for a new direction...for a new life.

BTW: The link in the first post that points to the full article seems to be broken.  Any way of re-posting it?

All is appreciated.

Peace, UFH
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« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2009, 11:28:40 AM »

UFH, if you are talking about this link: http://eqi.org/invalid.htm#Examples%20of%20invalidating%20expressions it worked for me just now.
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