Have you ever felt ignored?
Chances are you have – we all have at one time or another. Whether it’s being ignored by someone in particular or people in general looking past you, feeling ignored is isolating and painful. It can cause us to act out in destructive ways. This can be particularly true when you feel ignored or overlooked by someone you love.
So how should you handle the feeling of being ignored? And could it be possible that you’re making someone feel ignored without even realizing it?
Let’s take a look.
The Effects Of Being Ignored
Being bullied is horrible, but being ignored can be worse. In fact, the silent treatment is a tactic often used by people who want to inflict pain without being outwardly confrontational. It’s manipulative and cruel.
People who make a point of ignoring others and using the silent treatment as a weapon may not realize the serious effects their behavior can have. They don’t know how devastating those effects can be. And some people may not even realize that is what they are doing at all.
While their indifferent behavior is selfish, it may very well be accidental.
Being ignored can cause emotional trauma. It can eventually lead to depression, anger, and low self-esteem. Because people are naturally social creatures, we crave acceptance, inclusion, and recognition.
For better or worse, we often use those around us as a mirror. Their reaction to us forms, or at least influences, our own opinion of ourselves. Being ignored by the people around us, especially a loved one, is like looking in a mirror and seeing nothing there. This can leave us questioning our self-worth and value.
But it’s not just psychological stress that we feel when we’re ignored. We can experience physical problems as well. Emotional pain can lead to headaches, digestive issues, disruptions in our sleeping or eating patterns and even diseases. All of them have serious consequences if left unchecked.
What You Can Do To Feel Seen
But what can you do if you feel ignored?
You can’t make someone pay attention to you, right? Well, you can. Unfortunately, the behaviors used by those who are demanding someone’s attention are often negative and destructive. They come from a desperate feeling that any kind of attention is better than no attention at all.
This really isn’t true, however.
If you feel like you’re being ignored, the best thing you can do is to remain calm. Allowing yourself to become so upset over it can drive people further away. The next thing you need to do is consider why you feel this way.
Ask yourself this:
Are you sure you are really being ignored? Could it be that people (or a person in particular) are just busy?
For instance, if you feel that people look right through you when you walk down the street, it may be time to examine your own behavior. People generally match the behavior of others in a public environment.
Could the indifference that you feel from others a response to your own indifferent behavior? Do you smile at others as you pass by? Do you make eye contact or hold a door when the opportunity presents itself?
If the answer is no, then it’s quite likely that those around you are responding to signals you are giving off that say, “Leave me alone.”
If you are being ignored by one person in particular, however, you need to look a little more closely at the possible reasons. Do so with an open mind. In today’s overly busy world, it’s entirely possible that the person ignoring you is actually just really distracted with their own problems and schedules. It may not have anything to do with you personally.
On the flip side, acting out our negative feelings with intentional silence, such as ghosting, has become more and more the norm, so there could be more to it. There is one surefire way to figure that out though – ask.
If you feel that someone may be purposefully ignoring you, then the best way to understand why is to ask them directly. Doing this in an inquisitive and friendly manner will give the other person the encouragement to answer honestly. And addressing the problem in this manner will show that person and others that you don’t accept being dismissed and ignored as an appropriate response.
How You May Be Ignoring People And Not Even Know It
What if you’re the one who is doing the ignoring? Would you even know it?
We all know that life can get a little crazy sometimes and we can become self-absorbed. But when you become so focused on your own world that you stop returning calls, answering emails or paying attention to those who are closest to you, it’s gone too far. Now you’ve become the one doing the ignoring and causing others to feel invisible. Not good.
The best advice is to take time once or twice a week to stop and take stock of your relationships and behavior. Give some thought as to what those around you may be experiencing as well. Nothing about our lives and relationships remains static or perpetually harmonious.
There are always ups and downs and back and forths. So, if you are feeling ignored, give some thought as to why and if your behavior is playing a part in that. Do a self-check.
Could you be the reason someone else is feeling overlooked and invisible?
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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.