Thursday, June 4, 2009

Countering The Invalidator

If you feel constant jabs of discomfort when you are with someone, take a look at what he or she is doing. An invalidator will put you in a position where you wrong whether you do agree or not.

Once an invalidator has you introverted and thinking, your beginning to come into his control.
Among an Invalidator be mindful:
- Do not introvert only, notice their feelings/thoughts and motive.
- Do not take it personally, seek to understand why they may say or think things.
- Step back and take a look, look at the big picture and be objective.
- Do not defend youself, instead confront their thoughts and feelings.

If it is truely an invalidator, in the end it is not about you it's about them, to be sure we need to really "know thyself". Ensure that the spot light is not on you but is on them. Below are some techniques to help you deal with an invalidators attacks.

~ Confrontingly Show Knowing ~

Look at them in such a way that you know what they are doing.Make them quietly aware that you know all their mind games.One could use certain face expressions, shaking of head, a knowing smile etc.

Eg...I am a vegetarian. I knew my auntie knew that i was vegetarian but she said to me.
"Are you hungry? there is some chicken over there go eat some "I gave her a long confused expression without saying a word (confronting look) till she was forced to say something.
she said "OH, so you don't eat ANY meat?"I asked "but um..isn't that you know i'm vegetarian already?"She replied "oh so you don't even eat meat sometimes?". I said "that's correct".

Was reading a beneficial non-fiction book and my friend came a long and said."OH! so your reading THAT stuff again" (in a slight demeaning tone of disapproval).
I replied "my friend, you say it like i shouldn't?" (rhetorically asked)

He embarassingly smile and went on his way.

I failed to recall a key past conversation with a friend once. She said "You never listen!" (maybe consciencely or unconsciencely trying to make me feel bad).
I replied "Well you know, it's not about listening or not but about being able to always retain what i hear, i'm no tape recorder you know". (calmly and jokingly).

What she should be saying, "It makes me frustrated when you forget these types of things i tell you". Even though it may be a complaint you may not be able to help at least it is not a generalisation or a judgement that attacks your self-esteem. In essence they shouldn't expect so much anyway, it only lead them more negativity.

~ Play a game ~

You could play the game yourself
HER "You never listen!"
ME "i'm sorry, what? please repeat"
HER "you don't listen"
ME "sorry couldn't catch that"
ME "sorry just can't hear ya"
HER [make a frustrated look]
ME [smiles]
"now that was an example of not listening"
"If i continue like this forever then what you say about me would actually be true, unfortunately that is not the case".

This little game is to make it obvious that the bad feelings are their own and that pushing their feelings on to you just won't work, they need to be responsible for them. They may feel bad about something so they may try to make you feel bad about it, it could be unconscience but it is a natural reaction of the ego...blaming others.

Playing this game also allows them to see that what they originally said is a generalisation and judgement that is inaccurate. If you truely "never listen" then it would be played out like this game always.

Warning: This is probably a bad example to handle the situation and it only flares the other up even more and they WILL get angry! so i don't recommend it.

~ Question Motives/Feelings ~

"hold on...i told you about 'this' so of course i cannot do 'that', how come you still say these things or bring it up?"

"How come you think/feel that way?"

"Tell me about it, whats on your mind?"

"Are you trying to imply/say is 'say what you think' ?, only just trying to understand your feelings that is all brother/friend"

"I can't help but i feel your implying "say what you think', please tell me your thoughts"

Lay it all out in the open, shake them out of their facedes and hidden meanings. Use your questions, reasons and feelings to uncover them. Remember true invalidator are slipperly and love to hide!

~ Repeat Please ~

"Could you repeat that, please?"

This is a simply and effective way of putting them on the spot. If they brave enough to repeat that then maybe their self-esteem is not so low after all. Give them much respect for being brave. Maybe go "Very good! i commend you for being honest and straightforwardness". But chances are what they said they wouldn't repeat or at least repeat it in that intially intended offensive way. They'd be too chicken. Chicken more so in a sense that they know they're wrong and afraid you'll find them out rather being afraid of hurting your feelings.

~ Express Your Feelings ~

"I feel embarrassed, angry, being put on the spot" "i don't like the way you said that"
Pretty straight forward no one can argue with the way you feel. It's quite a powerful way to seek rapport and empathy or understanding.

~ Privately Confront ~

Take them aside privately and discuss with them, uses the above techniques if needed. This should be straight forward. Since it is private they will be less likely to hide in facades, others or jokes.

~ Mirror the Projection ~

Push it back at them, ask them the same question back.

eg.He may asks you "Why didn't you help her out?"You reply "yeah! so why didn't you help her out?"

She says "How come you didn't go? (tone of disappointment) You should have went with them, they must be been disppointed in you."(try make you feel bad)

You reply "Sorry couldn't, how come you didn't? since you didn't go too, sad that we in the same boat."

She rebuts "yeah but i was busy that day."

You rebut "same deal hun, can't be help can it?"

~ Conclusion ~

From the patterns above we see that the focus in handling invalidation techniques is focusing on them, their selves, feelings and motives. If we merely defend ourselves the focus is still on us and an invalidator can thrive on that. Good friends will tend to back away at this point and repect you but an invalidator probably will not, remember they need to feel superior to you so they'd want to win. Put your energy into shifting the perceptive and expose them out of their hiding, put your gleaming light of "awareness" on them.

There was a time i noticed a friend being overly critical at many instances in a conversation, trying to attack my shortcomings and self-esteem at every angle. I tolerated it and patiently let it continue enough times to have some ground to work with. Finally i directly pointed it out "I feel abit uncomfortable, you've been very critical of me at many instances in these past conversations, what is bothering you?".

After a time of defending themselves they realised their mistake and we discussed each others feelings, i was able to learn of my own mistakes in handling them and we both were able to take a step back and humble ourselves. This is example of shifting the perpective and without even the need to defend myself.

If it is untrue they will realise it on their own accord. Of course...whether they admit it or not that is a different story!

To Be Continued....NEXT PHASE "Origins of The Invalidator"

No comments: