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already Talked About That"
Written in 2007 - S. Hein
The other day I started chatting
with someone. I was feeling very depressed. They said
"How are you," but I didn't want to tell them.
I said I just wanted to see if they were ok. I explained
that I was afraid they would later say that I just use
them, and don't care about them or ask how they feel. I
am somewhat guilty of that, I suppose, so I am sensitive
to it now. And this person, who I will call Nadia,
recently accused me of using people - in other words just
writing to people when I need them and not asking them
how they feel and not spending as much time with them as
I used to. And she also told me she herself felt used by
me, if I remember correctly.
So when I told Nadia that I was afraid she would later
say that I just talk about myself and my problems, she
said "I thought we had already talked about
I have been thinking about her response a lot. I have
been wondering whether to call it invalidation. If it is
invalidation it is very subtle. And that is probably the
most confusing kind of invalidation. It is the kind which
leaves you wondering "What just happened? Did I do
something wrong? Did I say something wrong? Am I wrong?
Am I wrong to feel the way I feel? Am I wrong to feel
afraid of what I feel afraid of?" Does the other
person think I shouldn't feel the way I do? And if they
think I shouldn't feel the way I feel or that I have no
reason to feel that way since they think "we already
talked about it" then what do I do?"
But all this happened so fast. And
now it is two days later and I am still thinking about
it. And I am also thinking that some people will accuse
me of thinking too much. But I don't think I think too
much. I think they think too little! But more seriously,
I don't think I think too much because the suicidal
teenagers I talk to also think a lot. And they are often
told by their parents or even people their age they might
call friends, that they think too much. But I don't
believe they think too much. I think they are invalidated
But getting back to Nadia....I also ask myself, "How
was Nadia feeling when she said what she did?"
I still am trying to figure that out. I am afraid that if
I just ask her directly how she was feeling when she said
that she will say "I donīt know." So that
would not be of much help to me.
Thus I am left to speculate. Or to try to figure out what
I need and whether my needs are being met in the
relationship. Nadia is a person I care about but I lately
I have begun to realize that it is possible to care about
someone and even love them, but have conflicts over
needs. One person might need one thing and the other not
be able to give that specific thing, even if they care
about the other person.
I am not sure what Nadia needs. I hope that one day Nadia
will be able to tell me or someone else. Or even just to
figure it out for herself.
One of the things I wrote a long time ago is that our
feelings help us identify our unmet emotional needs. If I
don't feel understood, it means I have an unmet need to
feel understood. If I feel neglected or ignored it means
I have a need for more attention, etc.
In my case I can think of two of my unmet emotional
needs: the need to feel appreciated and the need to feel
This gets back to Nadia.
When Nadia said "I thought we already talked about
that" I didn't feel understood. I am still not sure
if it is fair to say I felt invalidated, but I definitely
didn't feel understood.. and feeling understood is one of
my big unmet emotional needs. I also need to feel
appreciated and I don't feel very appreciated by Nadia. I
feel cared about by her, but not understood or
I care about Nadia. I want to help her and I'm not sure
how. I also want her to help me but lately we havenīt
been helping each other much. Sometimes I feel resented
by her in fact. Sometimes I feel judged. Sometimes I feel
attacked- And these feelings are holding me back from
doing what I want to do with my life. I want to do more
with my life than I have already. I feel a little
pressured because I will be 50 this year. That sounds old
to me. Very old. It sounds like a number which is close
I think of the song that says something like "There
is never enough time to do the things you want to do once
you find them." I want to do a lot of things before
I die. Or before I kill myself. I don't want to just die
of old age or in a hospital so though it might sound
dramatic to say "before I kill myself" I don't
mean I am planning on it anytime soon, though I have been
feeling suicidal a lot this past week or two.
Right now I am living in Argentina now and I want to stay
here longer. There are a lot of things I like about it
here, but a lot of things I don't like. There are a lot
of things I want to change. And to change things I need
support. I need emotional support for example. I need
people who believe in me and my ideas and who encourage
me to keep doing what I do and to help me do it better.
People are important to me. Relationships are important
to me. And I believe they are important to all of us who
are what I call emotionally intelligent.
My motivation level depends to a
very large degree on the emotional support I get. When I
feel supported, I feel motivated and energized. When I
feel attacked, criticized, untrusted, not believed in,
judged, labeled, etc. I feel depressed. I often feel
suicidal in fact. But one person's understanding, one
person's caring, one person taking the time to listen to
me and not debate with me about my feelings or
perceptions, can lift my spirits, change my entire mood.
I would like to be more
"emotionally stable", but I am not. I might as
well say I would like to be taller, though that is of
course a bit of an exaggeration. But only a bit, because
one can't just wish for emotional stability. It's not
that easy. I know a lot of theory. I have read a lot of
books on motivation etc, but when I feel lonely not much
of that helps. What helps is to be with someone, and even
better to hug them.
Anyhow, I still don't know if what
Nadia said qualifies as invalidation, but I am going to
put this story on my invalidation page, and maybe my understanding page. And maybe on my listening page, because it is an example of what I would
say is not being a good listener.
I feel sad to even say that, because if Nadia reads this
then she will probably feel hurt, maybe she will feel
defensive. Maybe she will feel resentful or hurtful
towards me. I hope that in any case she can identify her
feelings. For me, for example, I recently realized how
important it is for me to realize when I am feeling
hurtful, because if I think about it that way I realize I
don't want to people - especially those I care about,
need or want to be a part of my life..
March 28, 2007
Core Components of
Intelligence | Empathy
Emotional Abuse | Understanding
Literacy | Feeling Words
Respect | Parenting | Caring
Listening | Invalidation | Hugs
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