Feeling of Being Ignored: Know Exactly What it Means
Being ignored never felt good and I presume you’ve experienced so one way or another. I personally feel bad being ignored and it makes me wonder why people ignore others in the first place.
In your case, what would you do when someone ignores you? May they be dear or not, but, how will their behavior affect you?
You’d probably ignore them back when you had the chance, speak up and confront them, or keep it to yourself and feel invisible. Regardless of how we would react, we sometimes just can’t understand why we receive such behavior.
Whenever you feel like someone is ignoring you, you may wonder, “Why am I being ignored?” or “What does it mean when someone ignores me?” but having those in mind creates negative emotions and psychological stress. Therefore, in such instances that you feel ignored, it is best to examine the following: Are you really being ignored, or were they only not paying attention?
Knowing such could help you feel less emotional pain when ignored and avoid accidentally ignoring others at the same time.
Table of Contents
- What is the feeling of being ignored and how could it affect you?
- How could the feeling of being ignored affect your relationships? The social effect of being ignored.
- How do you know if someone ignores you?
- Did they ignore you on purpose?
- Why are they ignoring you on purpose?
- What could you do when you are being ignored or at least feel so?
What is the feeling of being ignored and how could it affect you?
The feeling of being ignored is our body’s personal response when someone failed to acknowledge us, in this case, ignored us. That feeling could come into a range of emotions such as confusion, anger, indifference, helplessness, or worse, sadness.
We could even feel overwhelmed by these emotions and eventually think of ourselves as unworthy and start questioning our self-worth, creating social pain, emotional trauma, and psychological stress.
Yes, it could even affect our psychological well-being. Studies like Kipling Williams, suggest that “being ignored is worse than being bullied”. Now, don’t misunderstand me, the “bullying” we are talking about here is physical bullying that causes physical pain while being ignored on the other hand causes social pain that potentially lasts longer than physical pain.
Social pain is “the painful experience of actual or potential psychological distance from other people or social groups”, it is the feeling of being out of place, rejected, or overlooked. We feel such pain because of our anterior cingulate cortex (a part of our brain responsible to detect and control painful emotions) that is tweaked by our stress levels caused by many possible reasons like being ignored.
Therefore again, we feel negative emotions rush through us.
As social creatures, these feelings hurt as much as physical pain does, it makes us lose confidence, we might feel alone in the world, lose focus on positivity, and have self-doubt. Having these in mind often results in worse psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.
In some cases, we might not know it but we even feel more pain physically when we are being ignored as social pain changes the perspective of the physical pain. What doesn’t seem painful before, like a scrape on your elbow or a scratch on your knee would feel a little more painful when you experience something socially painful, in this case, being ignored.
What’s even worse is that this kind of pain does not enhance existing physical pain, but it also inflicts such pain on our bodies. You might think that it doesn’t make sense, how could our emotions give us physical pain? Well, they do since we are most likely be vulnerable to chronic pain, or a painful physical conflict that lasts for a long time like frequent headaches or joint pain when we are socially stressed.
Yes, as dramatic as it sounds, we are still likely to experience such physical pain when we are “simply” being ignored when our feelings are not resolved. If you think about it, you would be stuck in a loop.
Someone ignores you, you get stressed, you feel social pain that hurts you both mentally and physically, then you get stressed by your physical damages, then you feel hurt socially again that damages us mentally and physically, and so on.
When people ignore us, our behavior is often quick to change. We may feel offended or sad that we’d eventually distance ourselves from that person. For instance, we might be a little less enthusiastic whenever the person who ignored us is around, participate less, become more offensive, or have any form of negative tension.
This is because we don’t understand why they ignore us and ignoring someone just feels wrong in our perspective. With that, we might want to inflict the same negative emotion on them the same way as our coping mechanism. If not, then we might choose to distance ourselves from them because we felt like we shouldn’t be there.
This behavioral change creates a negative environment not only with the person ignoring us but also with most people around our circle. In a sense, we become less cooperative with the person who ignores us that we’d somehow unknowingly act the same with most people around the other person. It basically creates a crack in our relationship with the other person that could potentially affect our relationship with others as well.
How do you know if someone ignores you?
You know how it hurts to feel ignored, right? However, how do we really determine if someone is ignoring you?
Well, one thing is when they are not paying attention to us. In a face-to-face set-up, we could obviously see if someone does not pay attention to us at all and purposely ignoring us. However, it could be that they zoned out for a minute or had something in their mind that they did not notice you. Therefore, they did not really ignore you.
So how do we know if someone is ignoring us? When they give us the silent treatment. Yes, when they refuse to acknowledge you even if you try to talk to them and shared how hurt you felt. That is when you should realize that they are ignoring you on purpose.
On that note, you should also consider that there are different possible reasons why the other person is giving you the silent treatment.
Did they ignore you on purpose?
Sometimes, when we feel hurt, we often let our emotions take control of us which clouds our reasoning. Therefore, we may believe that we are being ignored without knowing if we are really being ignored. There are a few things to consider before reacting negatively when we feel ignored but not sure if the other person really ignores us.
For instance, as said above, it is pretty easy to spot when we are being ignored in a face-to-face set-up. However, we could never really know the condition of the person if he or she is miles away from us and we are socializing through the internet. With that, there’s a possibility that the other person did not ignore you. It could be that they were busy, were in an accident, or fell asleep.
Another thing to consider is how we appear to others or even to just one person. Do you look welcoming or does your expression say “Stay away from me”?
Chances are, you are being ignored because people do not know how to approach you. Remember that subtle actions could have a whole different meaning from other’s perspectives. Therefore, do not only look after their behavior but yours as well.
Or simply, the other person has not noticed that you are being ignored by them. They could have not heard you at all. You might not know this but we could actually be like who has been ignoring us, in a sense that someone else could feel being ignored by us but we did not intend to.
Why are they ignoring you on purpose?
As much as we want to be understanding in these situations, sometimes it’s just hard to grasp why we are being treated in a certain way and no matter how much we think, it doesn’t seem incidental at all. This gives us one last option, yes, they really intend to ignore you and there are various reasons why they do so.
Here are some possible reasons why others would ignore us on purpose.
They feel burdened
There is a chance that you are being ignored because they feel like they have made something wrong to you and that they could not face you. It is quite heavy to face someone we have done something wrong to them. The more guilt they have, the less likely they’d have the courage to reconnect with you again.
They think you deserve it
Unlike the first one, there is also a chance that they feel like you should be held accountable for something that you’ve done. You might not realize it but it’s either you really did something wrong to them or they just simply blame you for the problems they have. Either way, they result in ignoring you for the sake of their peace of mind and “revenge”.
They think it’s for the best
If we combine does two above, you’d get this. it could be that they would rather ignore you than hurting you or being hurt by you. They probably think that you two should not be in contact anymore and that it is best to stay apart.
What could you do when you are being ignored or at least feel so?
As mentioned, there are so many reasons why people could appear to be ignoring you. In such cases, it is best to clear the air.
When they did not ignore you on purpose
If you are initiating a conversation and the other person is simply not listening, you could ask them if they heard you right. In that way, they could realize that you might have felt being ignored.
Next, would probably apologize if they did not intend to ignore you and that’s the end of it. The air is clear and the matter is solved. However, if the person did intend to do so then they would most likely not mind at all.
When they ignored you on purpose
If they did ignore you on purpose, you should still do the same. Ask them why if they intended to ignore you and why are they doing so. We never know what’s happening in other’s minds and that they could be dealing with their own problems by themselves. It is best to give them a point to consider so they would reply to you.
You could tell them how much it affects you are being ignored and you would totally understand whatever reason they could have for doing so. If they are in need of space, prepare yourself to give them some. If they were offended by you, take this chance to mend the mistake. Make sure your point gets through but don’t push it on them.
That is the most peaceful way to deal with this problem but you might wonder how to get through those who ignored us for these reasons: (1) They feel burdened, (2) They think you deserve it, (3) They think it’s for the best.
They ignore you because they feel burdened
When a person “punishes” himself on your behalf or thinks that he/she is punishing themselves by creating a wall between you because of guilt. Then it is best to assure them that you are not offended or mad at them for whatever they did.
Even if you are, you could tell them that yes you are mad, but you would appreciate it better if they approach you and apologize instead.
They ignore you because they think you deserve it
If you think that the person ignores you because they think you deserve it, then I guess it is best to cut ties with that person all in all. This is because people who think this way are those who are hard. to compromise with.
Even if you try and explain yourself, they’d rather put a blame on you instead of meeting with you in the middle. However, if you really don’t want to lose that person, and you know that you did the right thing, then you should probably make an effort to convince them more that you don’t deserve to be treated this way at all.
They ignore you because they think it’s for the best
There is a reason why that person thinks that ignoring you is the best solution to your situation. It could be that they are suffering too much and can’t be in touch with you anymore. It could also be that they are tired of whatever is going on with the two of you that made them resort to ignoring you.
If you don’t feel the same then you could explain to them your side, ask them what has been bothering them, what you think about the problem, and what compromises you both can do to save your relationship.
In that way, the person could see how you are willing to listen and fix what’s wrong and that ignoring each other is not the way to get through this.
It hurts when we are being ignored and our feelings are totally valid. We might not know it but a lot of people could be experiencing the same in this big world and being ignored could take provide a greater impact on us than we imagine.
We could experience pain physically, experience darkness through depression and anxiety, it could even cloud our judgment and urge us to destroy our relationships with others.
A subtle reaction, perhaps none at all could give us all these emotions. However, we should not let those emotions control us to the point where they take our confidence in our relationship with others.
Remember that “no answer” does not necessarily mean “no affection”. The people around you could be ignoring but did not realize it at all which could likely be the same with us. However, that does not mean that you do not matter to them at all.
Therefore, do the right thing and make an effort to speak with them as speaking up is usually the first step to avoid broken relationships. Remember the tips I gave earlier. Seek confirmation first so you would know if you are being really ignored then if you are, then try to patch things up with the person who ignores you.
Doing so would give you information about the whole situation that prevents you to feel negative feelings as they are very hard to deal with.
With that, always focus on the information you have and do not doubt the person who made you feel like you are being ignored. These tips could work whether for a friend, loved ones, or even strangers so you better remember them to make you feel better and avoid any form of misunderstanding.
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Author: Dr. Kurt Smith
Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and the women who love them. His expertise is in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their relationships better.