Emotional invalidation is particularly a problem when you’re dealing with an emotionally sensitive person, like someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I have a long list of emotionally invalidating phrases from which this list is derived. Emotional validation is the opposite of invalidation. You can learn how to use emotional validation to connect with a person with BPD by reading my book When Hope is Not Enough.
1. Ordering the person to feel differently
- Cheer up.
- Don’t cry.
- Don’t worry.
- Don’t be sad.
- Stop whining.
2. Ordering the person to “look” differently
- Don’t look so sad.
- Don’t look so smug.
- Don’t look so down.
- Don’t look like that.
- Don’t make that face.
3. Denying the person’s perception, defending
- But of course I respect you.
- But I do listen to you.
- That is ridiculous (nonsense, totally absurd, etc.)
- I was only kidding.
- I honestly don’t judge you as much as you think.
4. Trying to make the person feel guilty While invalidating
- I tried to help you.
- At least I…
- At least you…
- You are making everyone else miserable.
- You just won’t accept anyone’s help.
5. Trying to Isolate
- You are the only one who feels that way.
- It doesn’t bother anyone else, why should it bother you?
- No one else feels that way.
- Nobody has a problem with it except you.
6. Minimizing the feelings
- You must be kidding.
- It can’t be that bad.
- Your life can’t be that bad.
- You are just … (being difficult; being dramatic, in a bad mood, tired, etc)
- It’s nothing to get upset over.
7. Using reason
- There is no reason to get upset.
- You are not being rational.
- But it doesn’t make any sense to feel that way.
- Let’s look at the facts.
- But if you really think about it…
- I don’t always do that.
- It’s not that bad. (that far, that heavy, that hot, that serious, etc.)
- I didn’t say that!
- That’s not what I meant.
9. Judging & labeling
- You are a cry baby.
- You have a problem.
- You are too sensitive.
- You are over-reacting. You are too thin-skinned.
- You are way too emotional.
10. Turning Things Around
- You are making a big deal out of nothing.
- You are blowing this way out of proportion.
- You are making a mountain out of a molehill.
11. Trying to get the person to question himself/herself
- What is your problem?
- What’s wrong with you?
- What’s the matter with you?
- Why can’t you just get over it?
- Can’t you take a joke?
12. Telling the person how he/she “Should” Feel or Act
- You should be excited.
- You should be thrilled.
- You should feel guilty.
- You should feel thankful.
- You should feel ashamed of yourself.
13. Defending The Other Person
- Maybe they were just having a bad day.
- I am sure she didn’t mean it like that.
- You just took it wrong.
- I am sure she means well.
14. Negating, Denial & Confusion
- Now you know that isn’t true.
- You don’t mean that.
- You don’t really mean that.
- You are just… (in a bad mood today, tired, cranky)
15. Sarcasm and Mocking
- Oh, you poor thing. Did I hurt your little feelings?
- What did you think? The world was created to serve you?
- What happened to you? Did you get out of the wrong side of bed again?
16. Laying Guilt Trips
- Don’t you ever think of anyone but yourself?
- What about my feelings?!
- Have you ever stopped to consider my feelings?
17. Philosophizing Or Cliches
- Time heals all wounds.
- Every cloud has a silver lining.
- Life is full of pain and pleasure.
- When you are older you will understand.
- You are just going through a phase.
- It is what it is.
18. Talking about the person when she can hear it
- She is impossible to talk to.
- You can’t say anything to her.
- She’s such a…
19. Showing Intolerance
- This is getting really old.
- This is getting really pathetic.
- I am sick of hearing about it.
20. Making it about you
- When I feel that way, I…
- You think you have it bad? I once…
- Do you ever think about me?
- What about my feelings/needs?
- That’s nothing. I had it much worse when…