A punch in the nose is obvious, and it heals. However, an attack on the self-esteem – at the right moment and in the right way – can last a lifetime. – Jay Carter , Psy.D.
We’ve all had the experience of being invalidated by certain people in our lives. Whether it’s from someone close to home, at work, or in a social group. There is always that one person we feel mistreated by.
Even worse, they lower our self-esteem in a subtle way which to the outside world goes unrecognised. If we try to explain how we feel, these people can easily turn the conversation around, making us out to be sensitive, judgemental and in the wrong.
Nasty people – also known as invalidators – have a way of lowering our self-esteem. In this article, I would like to share with you 10 methods of nasty people and how to avoid them.
As we explore these methods, you will come to have a more understanding an awareness about the people in your everyday life.
One of the methods of an invalidator is to keep you in a state of uncertainty. You never know when they might explode and do something to upset you.
For example, you may become understanding of one and other, share a laugh, and build trust. Things can stay this way for a period of time, but then out of nowhere, the invalidator makes you feel uncertain again.
In this persons presence, you never know how to feel around them, and you create rational excuses for their behaviour, almost as a way of convincing yourself that you like them.
Projection can be explained quite simply: the person takes their feelings and puts the responsibility for them on you. For example, a person who doesn’t like you may say, ”I don’t think you like me.”.
They can easily set a frame around you, making you explain yourself to them. And instead of thinking about the invalidators intentions, you start questioning your own feelings.
Manipulation is about control. The invalidator needs to feel in power of you, and often makes you feel like you owe them something. This sort of behaviour can be found in managers, and those in higher power.
For example, if you were asked to work overtime but have other commitments, your boss will try to convince you that your work is more important than your commitments.
If you remind your boss about any overtime you put in for them previously, they will make out that they were doing you a favour, or that you owed it to them.
An invalidator who often judges you likes to act as if everyone agrees with them. For example, ”You are irresponsible” would be a passing judgment which assumes that this is who you are as a person, and everyone would agree.
The invalidator judges because they want to unconsciously attack your self-esteem instead of addressing the real problem. Addressing the real problem would mean taking responsibility for their feelings which invalidators do not.
Be careful of generalisations. An invalidator will use generalisations as a way of exaggerating small truths. For example, if you forgot to clean the house, an invalidator might say, ”You never help me” (Translation: you forgot to clean). ”You’re useless”. (You forgot to clean).
Again, this is an attack on your self-esteem instead of the real problem. The problem is the house isn’t clean. The problem is not that you don’t help, or are useless.
”I don’t mean to upset you, but..” (They probably want to upset you). ”I don’t mean to interrupt…” (Yeah, right!). The voice of an invalidator who uses a sneak attack will always have a soft voice.
Their face will also show concern. They may even try to be nice, but underneath are daggers.
A double message is usually verbalised in a deep tone – a voice of disgust. For example, an invalidator may ask, ”How are you?”. If you respond with, ”Leave me alone!”, the invalidator will innocently relate to everyone that you are in a bad mood because all they did was ask how you were.
Invalidators can be very sneaky with double messages. They appear innocent to observers, but you can always sense something in the way they are talking to you.
Another valuable tool for the invalidator is cutting communication. If you are asked a question about yourself, they cut you off before you finish answering.
Or you can be asked a leading question like, ”Do you still argue with your partner?” You can’t answer this question without appearing wrong. The invalidator may even walk out in the middle of a conversation, leaving you with a pile of thoughts jammed in your mind.
Many invalidators like to build you up so that you grow dependant on them. They make out that they are always there for you, and that you can always share your innermost feelings.
Whenever you feel self- conscious or anxious, the invalidator will draw your attention to the negative qualities about yourself. This way, they can pull you down, so that they feel more superior, making you feel like you need them.
The double bind is one of the most sneakiest attacks because you’re wrong if you do, and wrong if you don’t. For example, if you took a class to improve your confidence, your partner may get jealous and insecure of the new confidence you have. So you’re then given the ultimatum of, ”It’s either me or the class”.
Of course, nobody wants to give up their relationship for the sake of a class. An invalidator will put out threats due to the positive changes you are making in your life.
Having explored the 10 methods of nasty people and how to avoid them, you now have a better understanding of the invalidators in your daily life, and what their intentions are.
In these circumstances, knowledge is power. Because we cannot always avoid certain people in our lives, we can, however, avoid feeling trapped by them.
We do this by simply being more sharper and aware of the behaviours of the people around us. And with this new level of awareness, we will become confident and more assertive the next time we interact with them.
Nasty People, Jay Carter, Psyd.D, 2003.
Love this article? Share it with your friends on Facebook