Invalidation: 9 ways of belittling people

Judgmental ways of communicating


Ordering you to feel differently

  • Get over it
  • Don’t be so sensitive

Ordering you to “look” differently

  • Don’t look so serious
  • Don’t look so proud of yourself

Denying your perception, Defending

  • You’ve got it all wrong
  • But of course I respect you

Trying to make you feel guilty while invalidating you

  • I tried to help you
  • At least I …
  • You are making everyone else miserable

Trying to isolate you

  • You are the only one that feels that way
  • It doesn’t bother anyone else, why should it bother you?

Minimising your feelings

  • You must be kidding
  • It can’t be that bad

Using reason

  • There is no reason to get upset
  • Let’s stick to the facts
  • Maybe it’s because …

Judging and labelling you

  • You have a problem
  • You are too sensitive
  • You are hopeless

Telling you how you “should” feel or act

  • You should be excited
  • You shouldn’t let it bother you


Invalidation is to reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge, or diminish someone’s feelings. When we invalidate a person’s feelings, the implied messages are:
I know what you should feel more than you know about yourself.
You must be weird for not feeling what I feel.
I don’t approve of what you feel.
Don’t be yourself, be what I expect you to be.

Psychological invalidation is one of the most lethal forms of emotional abuse. It kills confidence, creativity and individuality. Each person’s feelings are real. Whether we like or understand a person’s feelings they are still real. Rejecting feelings is rejecting reality. It is like telling water not to be wet. There are many forms of invalidation. Most of them are so insidious that we don’t even know what is happening.

Everything above the line is not my work.

I found the first in an image in a Facebook status after I’d followed this link called Autistics being Invalidated on Twitter. The second was another image I found when searching in Google to try to find the source of the first image. I was unable to find the origin of either image, so I am sorry if I have infringed anybody’s copyright.

I have copied the text of both so they can easily be readable on many devices including small screen phones.


These words speak to me because of the way people can and do speak to me when I am trying to cope with autistic over-stimulation. My feelings are my feelings, I cannot see why I should always have to explain my feelings when non-autistic people do not. You can take this as the second part of a blog I wrote on 14th November 2018 on Tone Policing. A short but more academic approach to the invalidation of feelings is here if you want to read further.


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