An invalidating environment is one that teaches a child that their thoughts and feelings are wrong, shameful or ‘too much’. Invalidating environments do not give children the skills to name, regulate or cope with their emotions effectively.
Marsha Linehan, the psychologist who created Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), explained that an invalidating environment can play a role in developing BPD.
my video on invalidating environments
Here are a few examples of invalidating statements:
- Stop being so such a cry baby.
- You have no reason to be upset.
- Other people don’t get so emotional.
- Why do you always have to create drama?
- You should be over it by now.
- Quit your crying.
Children who are invalidated tend to try to deal with their emotions alone. The problem is, children don't have the knowledge or skills for dealing with their feelings on their own. The result for some people can be serious emotional dysreglation involving up and down moods, outbursts of emotion and behaviours such as self-harm.
Not everyone who experiences an invalidating environment goes on to develop BPD. In her work, Marsha Linehan theorises that some people are born with a more sensitive temperament and this, when combined with an invalidating environment, can lead some people to develop BPD.
Can you relate? If so, it might be painful to think about this. Please know that you are not alone in how you feel, there is nothing wrong with you and that emotional regulation can be learnt so that things feel easier for you over time.