What NOT to Do
- Don’t accept the premise of an invalidating statement or comment.
- Don’t take the bait and be drawn into a fight or a circular conversation about an invalidating comment. Stay focused on the issues that really matter.
- Don’t argue or debate or repeatedly go over the issues with someone who is invalidating you. You may end up arguing for a very long time and get nowhere, and, the harder you try the more opportunities they have to further invalidate you. State the truth once. Then save discussion for a time when they are ready to listen with respect.
- Don’t stay in the same room with a person who speaks to you with anything less than the respect you are worth. Don’t wait for them to understand your point of view. Take a break. Remove yourself politely and tell them you’ll be back at a later time when you feel safe.
What TO Do
- If you find yourself feeling shame over the statements another person is making about you then it is possible that the problem is them – not with you. Healthy people don’t go around shaming others.
- Confront invalidation once, calmly with truth and without emotion.
- End the conversation as soon as an invalidating statement is given.
- Allow the other person their feelings and thoughts – without taking responsibility for making them see the truth.
- Focus on seeing yourself in a validating way. Remind yourself of your qualities and strengths. Strive for excellence – not perfection.
- Surround yourself with healthy people who will tell you with kindness what they see of your strengths and weaknesses. Find a few supportive friends who will lift you up when you are down and of whom you can safely ask – “Am I really that bad?”
- Write down the qualities you like about yourself – remind yourself that you have gifts and talents – that you are unique in this world and there will never be another you.
The Narcissist Coward
Many of us come out of invalidating (sometimes severely) home environments, but we do not become compassionless sadists. Narcissists are cowards who are fundamentally terrified of themselves and anyone who might see through their mask. Their driving motivation in life is to shield themselves from threatening emotions that trigger their deep-seated sense of inferiority, or narcissist injury.
Often narcissists strike and run, initiating surprise attacks and retreating before being confronted with the consequences of their rage. Narcissists also may behave passive-aggressively, cloaking their rage in self-pitying performances meant to induce guilt and blame.
Whatever hurtful tactics they use, narcissists virtually never take responsibility for their behavior. Instead, they are masterful at denying and projecting their abuse onto others, most often those they have abused, further exacerbating the harm they do.
I also think narcissists are intent on creating the Image of love and desirability for themselves. As long as they can prove they are sexy or attractive or desirable, they can project fault and blame for the failed relationship on their prior partner(s). Your X probably views those photos more than anyone else. Anytime he feels some doubt about being rejected because you arent reminding him how much you love and need and pine for his sorry arse, he logs-in to his posted photos and reassures his stud-ly-ness as in, See how HOT I am? Two women vie for my attention!
Keep the faith. Be good to yourself. Thank the lord you got out of that relationship. And remember Karma.
Women who grow up with intermittent reinforcement from parents are more vulnerable to getting involved with men who inconsistent because they are substance abusers or schizoid personalities. The alternation of intense involvement and cold distance strikes a familiar chord and sets off the fantasy that you can love this person so much that he will give up his addiction or not withdraw or leave when the involvement gets strong. Unfortunately, that is usually not the case.
What we have to wake up to is that some of us are in relationships that are based on intermittent reinforcement. In this kind of relationship, the things we need, like love, are only granted inconsistently, unpredictably and occasionally. But the fact that they are granted occasionally, keeps us hooked. We are owned by the relationship. We build up so much despair and starvation that when we get a single scrap, the relief we experience by getting a scrap feels like nirvana and we begin to chase that feeling and do anything we can do to get it. If you are in this kind of a relationship, you are either the scientist tormenting the rat with the potential of pellets or you are the rat in the cage caught in a cycle of torment. No matter what, if you are in an intermittent reinforcement relationship, you are in an abusive relationship. Abuse is usually not the conscious intent, but it is abuse nonetheless.
Intermittent reinforcement can happen with any need or want we may have. It is especially prevalent in relationships relative to emotional needs. Needs like connection, belonging, appreciation, affection and commitment to name a few.
Some people fear intimacy and struggle with insecure attachments, like avoidant attachment for example. When this is the case, they subconsciously try to get away from the fear that comes up in the relationship by gaining control in the relationship. They do this by intermittently reinforcing their partner. They have no idea that they are in fact doing this. They partner ends up at their mercy, desperate for the occasional closeness they grant. An example of this is a man who spends a wonderful night with you and you talk and connect on a deep level one day and the next, he doesn’t return your phone calls and acts like you are strangers and pulls away. Then, randomly is able to connect again, especially when he senses you pulling away. The classic hot and cold relationship usually falls into this category.
Intermittent Reinforcement is a term that originated from B.F. Skinner’s theories on Operant Conditioning and Behaviorism. Intermittent reinforcement is given only part of the time a subject gives the desired response. It is often used instead of continuous reinforcement once the desired response is conditioned by continuous reinforcement and the reinforcer wants to reduce or eliminate the number of reinforcements necessary to encourage the intended response. How does this relate to today’s world?(rewrite)
Many people refer to their Blackberry as a Crackberry, and with good reason. It is obvious that many people are addicted to their Smartphone or electronic devices that keep them in touch with their friends, work, and family. Many people often check their phone the first thing in the morning and don’t put it down until they go to bed.
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Flowers after days of the silent treatment. Crocodile tears after weeks of brutal insults. An unexpected extravagant gift after a rage attack. A sudden moment of tenderness after hours of critical remarks. What do these all have in common? In the context of an abusive relationship, they are all demonstrations of intermittent reinforcement – a dangerous manipulation tactic used to keep you bonded to your abuser.