9 minute read
If you’ve clicked on this title, you already know how it feels to be slowly erased by a pathological narcissist. Like you are entirely transparent & voiceless to the point you ask yourself whether you are here at all. You know the damage that narcissistic invalidation causes to your sense of worth & identity by nullifying all that makes you who you are.
Gorgeous one, the time has come to take your power back.
This piece is the second instalment in a two-part series on narcissistic invalidation. If you’ve not read part one yet, check it out now to understand why the pathological narcissist needs to invalidate you, and how to spot this form of abuse in action: Invalidation and narcissism: Why they slowly erase you.
Having explored the mechanics of narcissistic invalidation, we now turn to the more important matter at hand: you.
Here, we look at the toxic impact of narcissistic invalidation and how to overcome it through self-validation. This will give you the power to immunise yourself from the small meanness of the narcissist and instil a deep & abiding sense within you of your endless worth.
Let’s get to it!
Just a quick recap on this front, with the full expose in Part 1…
Invalidation is the act of purposefully denying, rejecting, minimising, negatively judging, and/or ignoring your expressed experiences, thoughts, actions, or emotions.
Truth be told, we can all be guilty of unintentionally invalidating another at times. When it comes to the pathological narcissist, this isn’t the case.
Narcissistic invalidation is a deliberate & far more pervasive behavioural pattern. So much so, that this is their primary modus operandi once you have slipped from idealisation into the devaluation & discard phases of the cycle of narcissistic abuse.
In short, to the disordered mind of the narcissist, by invalidating you this validates their false selves.
See, the construct of the false-self is fragile. The narc knows at some level that it is indeed a veneer, and spends a lifetime committed to hiding from what lies beneath. And they will do ANYTHING to maintain their charade.
Your job in this world, as far as they are concerned, is to feed this need.
When you are doing this, you are ‘right’.
Conversely, anything you do that challenges the reality of the false-self, the mask, whether intended or not, is a threat and must be eliminated.
When you are doing this, you are ‘wrong’…deeply, irrevocably, and unforgivably wrong.
These underpinning drives compel the narcissist to compulsively negate you. And it is indeed a compulsion explaining why facts and logic are beside the point (read The narcissist’s word salad: Stop biting now for an example of this in action).
For as long as they attribute you to being ‘wrong’, they can continue to be ‘right’.
In this way, invalidating you, validates them. And this gorgeous one, is a form of supply.
OK, enough about them already!
When we internalise narcissistic invalidation
The effect of exposure to constant narcissistic invalidation is the nullification of your very self.
Your identity is the sum of your qualities, beliefs, values, experiences, hopes, thoughts, and emotions. It is what defines you, and makes you gloriously, irreplacebly, you.
Narcissistic invalidation is the assault & negation of all that makes you, you, on a continuous basis.
This is the cause of the insidious erosion to identity so often cited in the narcissistic abuse recovery community.
The power of your erasure is compounded further by the isolation that is synonymous with narcissistic abuse.
In the absence of any external validation of who you are & what you are enduring, the rot sets in.
And the narc knows this. It is in fact, the jackpot of brainwashing efforts.
See, the culmination of this set of circumstances is that you internalise what they want you to believe. At this point, you take on the job as well and begin self-invalidating.
You know how you feel when they deny this or that happened, or this or that was said…despite the unequivocal evidence being present…yet still you doubt your own self? Still you think maybe you made it up? Maybe they’re right and it just didn’t happen?
Yep. Of course you do.
Well, that’s self-invalidation.
The upshot of the continuous denial of your reality and your inner landscape, programs you to mistrust and question everything. Including ultimately your own self.
And if you can’t trust your experiences, emotions, and thoughts – who are you?
The cost of self-invalidation
Let’s go back to those questions I know you are all too familiar with. Do I matter at all? Am I completely worthless? Can anyone see me or hear me? Am I invisible?
These questions are the product of the constant internal and external disavowal of your identity and reality.
The deep distress caused is evident in anxiety, depression, PTSD & C-PTSD, self-harm and suicidal ideation that haunts victims of narcissistic abuse.
Yet these clinical labels don’t quite capture the experience of annihilation from narcissistic invalidation.
There is singular quality to the injury sustained which isn’t comparable to other bereavements.
The chasm between who you become as moulded by the narcissist’s invalidation to serve as their supply, and your true self, is at the heart of your devastation.
The sense of grief that comes from being alienated from your true self is possibly the greatest experience of loss there can be. Equally, the erasure of all that makes you your self by one who professes love, is perhaps the cruellest of defilements.
This is the guts of the harm done. Serious stuff wouldn’t you agree? I trust you will agree the severity of the situation is undeniable.
Let this be the catalyst for your decision to overturn the effects of narcissistic abuse & stop them erasing you.
The happy news is that you can start this happening today. Right now.
How to stop the erasure
In Part 1, the importance of validation is underscored as being key to meeting basic human needs of belonging and connection. In being validated, we are seen, heard, understood. We feel valued.
Within the context of narcissistic abuse and the problem of isolation, it is integral for you to dig deep and flip the programming on its head to be replaced with self-validation.
You CAN do this. The very act of you reading this right now is evidence of your true self fighting to come to the surface once more. You are, in fact, already on your way.
You’ve got this.
Seeing narcissistic invalidation for what it is
Awareness of the reasons & motivations as to why the narcissist is addicted to invalidating others is critical. In understanding the delusional place they operate from you begin to detach and disengage from the manipulations.
This starts with paying attention to when, how and why narcissistic invalidation is being used on you. You notice the complete lack of logic and rationality of their thought processes and are able to acknowledge the absurdity of their games.
The ‘I’m onto you’ milestone in your recovery journey naturally enables the comprehension that their attacks on you, have absolutely nothing to do you. It is 100% about them.
For greater depth on why they do it don’t forget to read Part 1.
For more practical tools on detaching read Emotionally unhook yourself & starve the narcissist of supply: Here’s how & Reacting vs. responding: Overcoming legacy of abuse and narcissism.
Shifting from invalidation to self-validation
Reconnecting with your truth
Do not allow anyone to author the reality of your experience. Unequivocally, this right is yours, and yours alone.
Fostering your detachment allows you to transfer your attention from them and their needs, back onto your own.
Ask yourself several times a day ‘how do I feel at this moment and why’. Consideration and responsiveness to your internal states serves to replace the narcissists invalidation with your own self-validation.
The more you notice how you feel and why, the more power you feed back into yourself by reconnecting with your truth.
Let’s be honest, in the midst of narcissistic abuse, this task can be confronting and yuck. Surfacing suppressed truth often is. But as they say, the only way out is through.
When freaked out feelings pop up tell yourself: ‘I deeply and completely accept myself’. Use it like a mantra. Say it to yourself. Say it loud. Sing it. Yell it. Whatever you must do – do it. Own it. Own your self.
Deprogramming their voice
Shifting to self-validation means deprogramming that voice of narcissistic destruction. It means silencing their poison and replacing it with your own sweet voice.
Get yourself some paper, a screen, a canvas, whatever and draw up two columns.
In the left column, write yourself a big, long list of all the narcissist’s favourite words used to invalidate you. Get really stuck into it, purge that poison!
When you’ve done this gorgeous one, turn to the column on the right. This the column of truth. In this one, counter each and every single item from column right. Score that paper/screen/canvas with who you really are. Do it with pride!
For example, on the narc may constantly tell you you are selfish. Think about it – is this true, I mean, is it really true? I would bet my bottom dollar that it is the very opposite of who you really are.
So come, on, write out your truth: ‘I am a caring, compassionate and kind person. This is what makes me special’.
Do this for every single one of the lies. Turn it around. Scribe your truth.
This column of truth are your affirmations. They are the story of who you are.
Now use them. Stand in front of the mirror, sit in the car, eat your breakfast, do some yoga, brush your teeth, do the dishes…whatever you are doing, use the story of who you are, and repeat your affirmations to yourself, over and over again. Be relentless about it.
In doing so, you reprogram your inner dialogue booting out the narc’s voice and remember just how special you are.
And you are. Believe this.
You will get there. I promise. And when you do get to that place of knowing how special you are, when you are just so damned solid in the knowledge of how very much you are worth, you have taken your power back.
And the narcissist? You will have erased them.
Your life, your identity, your freedom and your joy will be yours once more.
For more tools on disentangling from the narc read:
- Blueprint for recovery from narcissistic abuse
- 5 ways to counteract the narcissist’s gaslighting
- How No Contact supports narcissistic abuse recovery
- How journaling combats gaslighting & frees you from narcissistic abuse
- Stop feeling sorry for the narcissist now
As always, please share your thoughts, experiences, and insights on the issues in this article in the comments below. The more we share, the more we teach & help one another in reclaiming freedom.
- Greville-Harris, M., Roelie, H., Anke, K., Dieppe, P., & Lynch, T.R. (2016). The power of invalidating communication: Receiving invalidating feedback predicts threat-related emotional, physiological, and social responses. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 35(6), 471-493.
- Meredith, E. (2013). Emotional invalidation: An investigation into its definition, measurement, and effects (Doctoral Dissertation). University of South Florida, College of Arts and Sciences. (3589666)
- Rowan, J. (1999). Ascent and descent in Maslow’s theory. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 39(3), 125-133.
- Witkowsky, G. (2017). The effect of emotionally validating and invalidating responses on emotional self-efficacy (Doctoral Dissertation). Walden University, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations. (10279871)
Your articles are very truthful and helpful. Thank you so much. I am starting to feel much more detached and in control now.
Dear Anima Occulta, this is wonderful to hear. I wish you all the very best on your journey of recovery. Also, thank you for your very kind words. Sending you light & love, Maggie x
Dear Maggie, this paragraph: “The sense of grief that comes from being alienated from your true self is possibly the greatest experience of loss there can be. Equally, the erasure of all that makes you your self by one who professes love, is perhaps the cruellest of defilements.” This paragraph is awesome. Thank you.
Dear free2beme, thank you. That means a great deal. It was busy in the depths of me for a long, long time. It speaks my truth, & suspect will speak the truth of others who have grieved similarly. I’m glad it spoke to you (although of course simultaneously wish it didn’t). Light & love to you free one, Maggie x
I have been reading your articles for the last few days and I have been so encouraged and have learned much- thank you!
I have been running into a difficulty, though. In my situation, all of the tips on “remembering” from before the abuse are impossible to apply. I recently learned (just a couple months ago) that I was raised by 2 narcissistic parents. My father is the classic overt narcissist and my mother is the covert narcissist. My brother and I both turned out to be very empathetic and compassionate people, but we have a lot to work through. We both have many symptoms of C-PTSD (for myself, hyper vigilance is difficult to cope with), but we are making progress with awareness.
Applying these kinds of tips, though, aren’t working because I have no frame of reference for “before” the abuse. I have nothing to “remember” back to and it is difficult to trust myself to know what my “truth” is. Does that make sense? I just wanted to see if you had any tips for those of us raised in the abuse who have never known what healthy is.
Thank you so much for the support and encouragement you provide- you are truly a blessing!
Dear J. I have just read both this message & your other one in response to ‘What the hell are boundaries’.
I hear you. I feel you. My lived experience is like yours and I understand the point you are making, and the challenges faced. I get that there is no ‘before’ state to reflect on.
BUT you, dear J, are not a state. You are not a period of time. And you most certainly are not what your parents have done to you.
You are more than this. You are you.
There has always been, and will always be a part of you that you own fully. It cannot be owned by others. It can be hijacked, but it cannot disappear in entirety. You are far more than the product of what you have endured.
The ‘remembering’ that I speak of is more about connecting with this than anything else. It is the process of removing the layers of brainwashing/programming and either uncovering or reclaiming that true state of who you are beyond the abuse.
As a survivor of narcissistic abuse from birth, the programming feels hard wired because it is all that has been experienced, but IT IS NOT. Let me say it again: you are more than a product of what you have endured. Repeat this to yourself over & over again.
The reason this is so important is that you need to work hard at overturning all the years of messaging that has told you, you are nothing but a reflection of your parents abuse. This is the lie they would have you believe. But gorgeous one, you are more than this. Far, far more. You actually already know this. Instinctively, you know your truth is not theirs, as you would not be on the journey you are on now if you did not.
In terms of how to connect with who you are, your truth, it begins with tuning into how you feel. Your emotions are your guides to uncovering who you are.
When you feel hurt, ask yourself why. When you feel anger, ask yourself why. When you feel hopeful, ask yourself why. When you feel joy, ask yourself why. With all emotions, ask yourself: how do I feel, and why. Start doing this as a practice you follow doggedly. Journal it. Yell it out. Sing it out. Whatever you need to do to connect to how you feel and process it, do it. Multiple times a day. Make this your new religion.
The more you practice the more you will be able to separate between what is YOUR truth, versus the voices of your parents that you have internalised. And the greater this level of awareness is, the greater your sense of who you are becomes.
In addition to your emotions being entirely yours, your truth, so too are your values. Read this article for more on this: – this is the follow up to ‘What the hell are boundaries’ article you’ve just read.
Dear J, remembering who you are, and claiming your truth is not impossible for you. Truly it isn’t. It may be the very hardest work you ever do and it is absolutely fraught with challenges but there is nothing worth fighting for more than your own gorgeous self. The way to get there is by recognising what is your true voice, versus theirs and silencing the latter.
Seeking support through appropriately qualified therapists who have experience in narcissistic abuse to learn ways to also manage the symptoms of C-PTSD may also be something worth checking out.
Dear J – you’ve got this. You are already doing it. I believe in you. It’s time to start believing in you also. It will not feel like it right now, but you are embarking on such an exciting journey of transformation. The years, years and years of existing with pain is about to change forever. So very much light & love coming to you, dear J. Maggie x
Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply, Maggie! It has been quite the journey so far just to figure out small things about myself over the last several months. How I’m feeling, what I think, what I like/don’t like, etc. I was taught to only think, feel, believe, like, etc. what they did. I would be told I wasn’t allowed to feel sad or scared and they would threaten to “give (me) something to cry about.” I’m still having a hard time even identifying my emotions.
Yesterday, for example, something triggered my C-PTSD and I had a panic attack. I recognized it, but I couldn’t figure out what caused it. I will keep at the work, though, and I really can tell that I am improving! Differentiating my own internal voice from the echos of their voices is getting easier, too. I was taught not to be an individual, so I have to say out loud, “I am allowed to think and feel what I do and my thoughts and feelings are valid.” It is helping, but at first I felt like I must be the most selfish and horrible person alive to say such a shocking thing!
Thank you for your support and for clarifying the concept for me! Some days I feel like everything is clearer than it’s ever been, but other days I feel like I’ve wandered back into the fog.
Wonderful advice! Thank you!
Thank you so much for writing this post. You have basically just handed me the key to my own heart and mind and self. All i have to do is turn it everyday until i won’t open anymore.
Thank you so much doesn’t come close to how i feel about what im reading here. I still haven’t finished reading it. Thabk you soooooo much ❤