We often invalidate our own feelings, as well as those of others. Of course, we likely do not mean to, but it is just such a conditioned response, that we do not even think about it. Here is an example:
Say you have a friend who is constantly afraid that their partner is going to leave them. Maybe objectively you can see that this friend’s partner is very loyal and there are no signs that they will leave. However, maybe this friend has been abandoned by significant people in their life and they have been wired, in a sense, to expect abandonment. If you tell your friend that they are “crazy for thinking this way,” or you say, “no don’t feel that way, that’s not true,” now your friend feels fear of abandonment AND they feel wrong for having that feeling.
The more we invalidate others, the more wrong they feel, which can lead to feelings of depression and isolation because they do not have a safe place to express these feelings without being wronged. But you can give your friends a safe space to express all their feelings…
A better response to this friend could be to firstly validate their feelings: “of course you feel that way, that makes perfect sense considering what you’ve been through in your life.” This response honors the part of them that feels abandoned. For that part, what they are feeling is very real and needs to be felt and dealt with. And by dealt with, I mean, loved, seen, and heard.
This is a practice not only to do with others but also with yourself. Can you give yourself the space to show up without being wrong? Can you support the parts of you that ache and need love? I believe that the more we validate our feelings, the less we repress and the freer we can be. By virtue of not being repressed, these parts of us can express themselves in all the ways they need to.
When we let ourselves be more expressive, we also may uncover wells of deep sensitivity, empathy, emotion, creativity, and other faculties that have been repressed along with our feelings. And that is a beautiful journey, my friends, to find out who you are when you are allowed to be all of you.
I’ll leave you with an affirmation to work with as you become a more full, free and expressive you: “it is safe to be myself and it is safe to feel all of my feelings.”
With Love, Stacia