“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”. Is this right, though? Do words truly never hurt us? Well of course they do and they can cut deep. Sometimes it would be easier to deal with a broken bone or a scraped knee than to try and mend the emotional wounds inflicted by words.
Invalidation is what prompts our feelings of hurt for we begin to feel that the other person’s thoughts/feelings/values are not in line with our own. This invalidation quickly lands us in the seat of the emotional rollercoaster where we grab onto any and everything that we can to shield us from the pain. These things that we grasp for are defense mechanisms – ways in which we can minimize or hide away from the yuck. The most common defense mechanisms are:
Avoidance: steering clear of anything that will cause any potential pain or discomfort
Denial: trying to believe that nothing is wrong and that nothing has happened
Repression: pushing those negative feelings deep down inside in hopes that they’ll never rear their head again
Displacement: taking all of our hurt feelings and lashing out at or dumping them on someone else
Rationalization: convincing yourself that the words behind that invalidation are actually true
We can reduce these yucky feelings and increase our ability to fight off the hurt by having the right tools at hand. In developing a greater understanding of what is really going on with our authentic self when we encounter these harmful words, we can minimize the sadness/anxiety/and/or anger that is often prompted by invalidating words.
Check out my latest blog to read more about the power of words and how they impact us all.