Hurtful Silence

ignore me

Have you ever noticed an annoying trait in someone, only to realize later that you do the same thing? It is said, that what we dislike in others is often times something that we do ourselves.

Lately, I’ve been noticing that when I attempt to have conversations with certain people, they say nothing in response. No ‘uh huh’, ‘ah’ or even a grunt. They don’t even give me a head nod or look my way, to inform me that they’re listening. All I get is silence. “Hello! I’m talking to you!”, I silently scream as I’m staring them down waiting for a response. Most days, I feel like I’m holding a sign similar to the one in the picture above.

I can understand being ignored if I’m saying something of no value or if I’m being argumentative. But when it’s a innocent statement or something that’s meaningful to me and I get absolutely no response, it hurts.

I’ve about had my fill of it, and last week I decided I would speak as little as possible. I realize that sounds childish, but what’s the point in hurting myself by giving people the opportunity to ignore me?

“Words may sting, but silence breaks the heart.” ~ Phyllis McGinley

As I was standing in the bathroom getting ready yesterday, I was thinking about this whole situation. Then, the statement about seeing ourselves in others, came to mind. Do I ignore people? Is this why it’s happening to me?

After some self examination, I found my answer. Even though I don’t exactly ignore people, I do ‘forget to listen’ sometimes. It’s not something I do on purpose. I want to hear what others are saying. Truly I do. I appreciate them and their conversations.

It’s just that I’m easily distracted, by everything. People, noises, lights, you name it. Have you ever watched the scene in the movie “Up”, where the dog gets distracted by a squirrel while talking? That’s me. All those distractions make it very difficult for me to stay focused on the person who is speaking to me.

I try to play it off as though I’m still listening, but sometimes it’s very obvious that my attention has strayed. “My co-worker, the one with 3 kids – he got fired today.” I respond, “Wow, that’s great!”

This really isn’t something I’m just learning about myself. My lack of concentration was brought to my attention a couple years ago by a friend of mine. She said, “If you ever want to have a conversation with someone who’s not listening, then talk to …. (me).” She was right. I couldn’t deny it.

Ever since she made that comment, I’ve been trying to work on myself. Although I’m getting better at paying attention, it’s not been easy. Obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing this.

However, it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally realized why it is that I’m experiencing this same issue with others. People are only doing to me, what I’ve done to them. Granted for me, the reasons are solely based on distractions. It is very unlikely that I would ignore someone out of spite. That’s just not my character.

The point is, whether it be on purpose or because of distractions, it’s hurtful to be ignored. I now know how I make others feel. That realization doesn’t make the situation any less painful, but it does make it easier to deal with. If I’m tired of being ignored and hurt by others, I can only imagine how tired the people around me are.

With that said, my new mission is to focus on giving people the undivided attention that they deserve, without allowing myself to be distracted. Maybe if I change, then the others around me will change also.

Have you ever seen yourself in others?

Daily Post Challenge – The Sound of Silence

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44 Responses to Hurtful Silence

  1. What an excellent goal and I wish you well in it. As for any reflection, I’m going to have to give that some thought!

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  2. suzjones says:

    Ahhhh self reflection and growth. It hurts does it not?

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  3. I’ve noticed that I raise my voice for no good reason, and now my hubby does it too – and it suuuucks. ‘Why are you shouting about that???’ Durr, I taught you to. Yep, I’m a jerk.

    I also tune him out because he talks a LOT. Seriously. He will talk to the cats, the dog, the cheese he is eating (not an exaggeration), the computer, the fridge (it talks back)…and me. About nothing I have any interest in whatsoever. It’s like he can only think out loud… But he’s got selective hearing too so I don’t feel bad.

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    • mewhoami says:

      Oh, that’s a painful lesson to learn to. But you’re right. We teach people things and don’t even realize we’re doing it. Then we angry with them for doing what we showed them to do. I’ve been there!

      I understand that. It’s hard to listen to people when you never know if they’re even talking to you. He could be talking to any living thing in the house. Perhaps I’m a bit guilty of that. I have a habit of talking to myself too, when facing something challenging. It helps me to process detailed information. Maybe that’s part of the reason I’m ignored too. At least you get away with it, since your husband does it too.

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  4. Jenna Dee says:

    It’s great that you have realised that you haven’t been paying enough attention to people who speak to you and that you are working on correcting this.
    Learn to concentrate on what the person is saying and try not to think about what you will respond. Be more natural about it, truly listen. A genuine smile or squeeze of the hand is often more valued than a whole lot of words.
    I sometimes notice the same thing happens in the blogging world when people comment on a post and it doesn’t contribute to the topic of the post but says whatever they want to talk about (usually relating back to themselves). Love to you from Jenna 🙂

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    • Jenna Dee says:

      I am guilty of my own last comment. You asked ‘have you ever seen yourself in others?” and I answered with unasked for advice. My sincere apologies. Love Jenna

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      • mewhoami says:

        I appreciate the advice. That’s a large part why I post many of the topics that I do. How can one learn, if we don’t travel outside our bubble and hear the opinions of others? In other words, feel free to advise, share your opinion and even your own experiences. I don’t mind at all.

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    • mewhoami says:

      That is wonderful advice. I do try to pay attention. What I really need help with is my easily distracted mind. Rarely do I focus on what I’m going to say next in a conversation, as I learned a while back that that makes conversations almost pointless. More concentration is what I need. I liked this “be more natural about it’. Sometimes I think it’s obvious that I’m putting all my energy into staying focused on the person at hand. But, at least I’m paying attention. 🙂

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  5. I have seen myself….and like you….want to make changes. One thing my husband said a counselor told him years ago. When people continue to do something, that they continually say “I’m sorry” for -they aren’t sorry, they are just being mean. I hear myself say “I’m sorry” and stop to think how often I’ve said it. And is it for the same behaviors?

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    • mewhoami says:

      I completely agree with that. It’s funny that you mention that too, because I’ve caught myself in the past year questioning whether or not my apology is sincere before saying it. With that said, if I continually apologize for the same thing, I stop saying “I’m sorry.” Both saying it and hearing it, gets old. So instead, I just work to change it. That’s really a great addition. Thank you.

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  6. I love your candid post! I think that in this hectic world, we can all be guilty of this from time to time. Do we REALLY listen to others? I need to make it a point to really focus on my husband, kids, associates, friends, in order to really hear what they are saying. There are so very many distractions in this world. Thank you for giving me food for thought!

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    • mewhoami says:

      I agree. Distractions are everywhere and they affect us all. Exactly – do we really listen? Or do we only hear? There’s definitely a difference. It’s interesting how communication is one of the most important parts of any relationship, yet the most difficult to maintain, for both the talker and the listener. Our family needs our focus. Now we just have to get rid of those distractions.

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  7. Very good and reflective post. I think it is sometimes easier to see in others what is difficult to see in ourselves. It is obvious that you have sailed over this hurdle. 🙂

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  8. April says:

    Thanks for something new to ponder. Do I see myself in others? I hope not, inside me is a person one pea short of a casserole. 😏 I also get distracted by squirrels, but that’s the ADD. I’m learning how to concentrate in order to be a better friend.

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    • mewhoami says:

      I’m sure you wanted more to think about it. 🙂 This had me laughing pretty hard. I’m not sure why I get so distracted. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to being around a lot of people, noises, etc. Being a better friend does require us to pay more attention to them. It’s good that you’re learning to do this also.

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  9. Glynis Jolly says:

    Yes, I see myself in my mom. They are those traits that I was hoping to avoid somehow, but I’m truly my mom’s daughter. I’ve been opinionated, a little too sensitive, and in many cases, felt that I could fix any bad situation better than anyone else. Luckily, I saw myself for who I really am in my early thirties and started to work on curbing these issues. I’m still opinionated and too sensitive, but now I’m quite sure that my way of fixing a situation isn’t usually the best and have learned to listen to suggestions closely.

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    • mewhoami says:

      I think many of us take after our moms. I know I do. It’s good that you were able to see the negative traits in yourself at an early age so you could start working on them. It takes time to overcome them, especially those that have been ingrained into us.

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  12. Cindi says:

    I saw aspects of myself in my Mom (more as I’m getting older, and especially after she passed away five years ago), and I see aspects of myself in my adult daughters. Some I like and am glad to have “inherited” and/or passed down … some not so much. It’s an eye-opening moment.

    I wish you success with your self-changes, as I focus on my own self-changes. It isn’t easy, is it?

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    • mewhoami says:

      I agree about seeing more of them as we age. I’m the same way with my mother’s traits. Those traits definitely get passed down from parents. Some are great and others are the very ones that we disliked, but then find ourselves doing them. Some traits I like, simply because when I do it, it has my mom written all over it. It’s a great reminder of her presence in my life. I’m sure after she’s passed on that those traits will become of even more value to me.

      No, it’s not easy. But it is needful.

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  14. parmis rad says:

    You spot it, you got it … Well I suppose it is true sometimes, but other times a bad behavior in and of itself can trigger a negative emotion in us without necessarily reminding us of ourselves. Thanks for this thought provoking piece.

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  15. I have a love/hate relationship with the idea that the things that bother you most about other people are likely things you yourself do…it is always true! Self reflection is so challenging, too, but I guess it helps us to grow and improve in the long run. Great post!

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    • mewhoami says:

      It is true and the truth can hurt sometimes. Especially when we see something ugly within us that we didn’t realize was lurking there. I’ll accept the challenge as long as I can grow from it.

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  16. sothislife says:

    “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.”
    ― Zeno of Citium, as quoted by Diogenes Laërtius
    This was a statement said often in my house….but I liked to add don’t just listen, hear.
    Self assessment is hard because we really don’t want to see our faults, so pat yourself on the back for your bravery.

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