Invalidation Anxiety

Wednesday, July 11 2012 Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

I made up "Invalidation Anxiety" two weeks ago, as I wrote Too Anxious To Speak Up? And was fascinated how many people were sparked by my words and left a lively debate in the comment section. We seem to have all been in situations when people have ridiculed or downgraded us.

Some readers were adamant that it is a must for our mental health that we should never allow anyone to be mean, take advantage, or criticize us without standing up for ourselves. I totally agree. But my definition of "allow" might be different!

Other commentors thought it was a matter of communication tactics suggesting if feelings are expressed calmly they are listened to. Sometimes.

Another commentor mentioned that not being able to speak up makes her anxious. And this can absolutely happen but for the same reason: Invalidation.

These commentors feel uncomfortable with feeling invalidated. And I am right there with them. Being invalidated, especially if you have been many times in your life, makes us feel like "victims." As victim we feel vulnerable, undervalued by society since we often get the raw end of the stick. This can create tons of anxiety. (Invalidation Anxiety!)

What we must keep in mind, however, that people are mean to us not because they don't value us, it is because they do not value themselves. This sentence is often hard to get our heads around. I would never condone that it is OK to treat someone poorly. But I want to emphasize we have to know how to value ourselves without having the other person involved, in case we need to. Sometimes the other person is not emotionally available to acknowledging us And if we keep trying to get it, we will feel more and more the victim. I am not interested in being a victim.

I am suggesting being unavailable to the meanness–essentially not allowing it– without needing anything from the other person. It is commanding respect in the ultimate way.

Validation starts within us

People's disrespect of us, is only triggered from our own insecurities. If we fully, completely respected ourselves and someone tries to disrespect us, it would be like water off a duck's back. We may not even notice it but even if we do, it doesn't effect us. We may even have compassion for the other person, knowing it speaks of their misery or their own self disrespect. Always keep in mind, if people are judging you, they are judging themselves ten times more. As another commentor said on Anger is Anxiety Evil Twin: "Sometimes they are fighting a war within themselves." Yes, they are!

Then, we respond angrily and defensively because of the war within ourselves. I don't want to be involved in their war. Why get into their misery? Arguing with someone who doesn't give a hoot about me is a waste of time. I'd rather keep myself out of it and focus on dispelling my own war. That's enough work anyway!

I do other things to sustain my sense of myself, be with people who love me, go into my Higher Self and find my own true value, and do things I know feed myself worth. This builds my confidence and ultimately takes my anxiety down.

Now, what do you think? Comment below!

By Jodi Lobozzo Aman

I blog here: Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace
and here: Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog,
share here: Twitter@JodiAman, Google+
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Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

View all posts by Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R.

Invalidation Anxiety

Kelly Hashway
says:
July, 11 2012 at 6:17 am

This is very true. It's so much better not to engage with someone who is criticizing you. If you just walk away, they can't keep doing it and you don't get defensive. Great post, Jodi.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 11 2012 at 9:01 pm

You said it perfectly Kelly!

Nikky44
says:
July, 11 2012 at 12:02 pm

It's a great post! I was discussing this specific subject yesterday. I was asking that if I decide to just cut contact with the person who has been mean to me, if that would mean that I didn't forgive.In my opinion and that specific case I was talking about, it's not about forgiveness. It's only a way to protect myself from other's negativity.
I think we can always try to clarify a situation with others who are disrespectful because it can be just a misunderstanding, but if they don't get it, the best solution is to leave it.
I used to worry a lot and all the time about what people think and how to defend myself if they are misjudging me, but now things are not that important except with specific people I really care about and love. If it happens with someone who is very important to me, I just can't let go easily

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 11 2012 at 9:02 pm

Perhaps you will someday! One thing at a time. Never say "can't".

Jodi Lobozzo Aman’s Blogs: Heal Now and Forever and Anxiety-Schmanxiety
says:
July, 12 2012 at 8:24 am

[...] Newest post on Anxiety-Schmanxiety: Invalidation Anxiety [...]

Daniel Lopez
says:
July, 13 2012 at 12:34 pm

I really enjoyed the blog and agree wholeheartedly with it all. I can especially identify with the "war" inside each one of us' heads and it bring better to tend to our own thoughts and sentiments without getting sucked or suckered into others' predicaments. I do believe it is good to physically walk away but oftentimes mentally take a step or two back while maintaining physical presence and hopefully composure might work best in the immediate and future moments. That's a lil bit from my "war".

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 13 2012 at 2:17 pm

That is well said, Daniel. Taking a step back is what we all need to do. See things symbolically. Thanks for visiting. So glad to have you!

What Women Fear | Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog
says:
September, 25 2013 at 6:23 am

[...] Fear of being judged, [...]

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