Invalidation and narcissism go hand in hand. Ever get the feeling you’re invisible? Like you are entirely worthless and just don’t matter? If yes, you know all too well the obliteration that inevitably comes from narcissistic invalidation.
It is the default modus operandi for pathological narcissists, underpinning all forms of abuse, whether physical, psychological, mental, or sexual. The effects are horrendously damaging and disempowering.
Invalidation is used to slowly erase you. After all, when you’ve been emptied of your identity, full compliance to the narcissist’s demands is almost guaranteed. There’s little left to fight with.
BUT…the very fact you are reading this now means you are not down and out. You are still fighting for you.
And in this battle to reclaim your life from narcissism, raising your awareness of when they are abusing you, sets in motion your release from the nightmare.
In this piece the narcissist’s need to invalidate is exposed, as is, how you can spot it in action.
Why validation matters
As human beings, we have basic needs, to be loved and to belong. These social needs are just as essential as other survival needs like food, shelter, and safety.
Connection to others and being accepted is at the core of belonging. And being validated by others is an integral part of having these needs met.
So, what is validation?
It is being present and supportive of another’s experience, by acknowledging their thoughts and feelings without attempting to change them.
In being validated we feel accepted by others and also accept ourselves. We feel heard, seen, and understood. In short, we feel valued.
Appreciating emotional states of others however hinges on the capacity for empathy.
Invalidation is the product of an absence of empathy, hence being a natural space for the pathological narcissist to operate from.
It is the act of purposefully denying, rejecting, minimising, negatively judging, and/or ignoring your expressed experience, thoughts, actions, or emotions.
Invalidation can be overt as is typical in aggressive bullying tactics. It can also be covert, subtle & insidious. Gaslighting is a prime example of just how sneaky invalidation can be.
If a resounding ‘yes’ arose for you in feeling invisible and worthless because of the narc’s abuse, you know, from experience, how bereft the absence of validation leaves you, and how very central it is to your survival.
Sadly, the vulnerability this causes only amplifies the power of invalidation…which is precisely what the narcissist wants in order to feed their needs.
Let’s delve into this some more…
Conceptualising narcissistic invalidation as supply
Once you understand the disordered thinking driving the narcissist’s invalidation, you can begin depersonalising this very personal attack.
By seeing through their mask, in time you develop understanding that their dismantling of you has very little to do with you as a person. Rather, it has everything to do with them as a person.
So here we go…
To protect themselves from facing the reality of their true selves, the narcissist creates a mask, their ‘false-selves’, which is all about being beyond reproach. Maintaining their fragile make-believe world depends on reinforcing constructed beliefs that they are ‘perfect’.
Disproving the reality of who they are without the mask, drives their existence.
This results in the fixation to constantly source supply. For the narcissist, this is their validation.
Unlike emotionally healthy people however, the pathological narcissist’s version of validation is not contingent on acceptance and understanding. Letting things & people be without the need to change them is not something the narc can do.
Rather, validation (and by this I mean validating them, your needs are completely irrelevant to them) is all about controlling and manipulating you into giving them the hit of supply they constantly crave.
Because supply is needed for their survival, they will score it at any cost. The hunt for validation is an obsession for the narcissist.
This is how it plays out…