There will come a time in life when your needs are not met. A spouse / partner brushes off affections or diminishes your concerns. A family member misses your birthday or other special event. A friend forgets to invite you to a gathering. An employer sidesteps your complaint or idea. A stranger looks past you and onto another.
We are human. We exist. We are flesh and bone. Real. Tangible. And yet when someone neglects or dismisses us, we feel invisible. Not every time, but when we need the attention to fill a void? It hurts. Bad.
Sometimes we require higher levels of understanding to get us through a rough patch. We often need extra support to help us deal with problems. But most of the time, we simply like to be acknowledged. We seek to be sought after. We hope to be understood. We want to be included, needed, remembered, and missed.
We want to be seen.
I have been dissed. I have been excluded. I have been forgotten. I have been ignored. We all have. And when that happens, there are a few ways to counteract the blistering effect of rejection:
1) DO NOT ALLOW IT TO GROW – Most of the time we can brush it off, but if you sense a simmering anger over what happened, address it head-on and immediately. If possible, discuss it with the person who hurt you. Be honest but also aware of the damage it might do. Choose words carefully. Remember you are trying to mend the relationship rather than ruin it. If you are unable to discuss it openly, seek to better understand the reason for your reaction and work to move past it.
2) DO NOT INTERNALIZE IT – Realize it is not always about you. Work to find out the Why before worrying about the Why Me. Maybe the other person is dealing with their own troubles. We all battle personal demons at various times and too often we get caught in the steely claws and direct our frustration at someone else. Perhaps they need you more than you need them right now. Being forgotten is not always a sign that you mean less to someone nor is it a measure of your worth.
3) DO NOT JUDGE – The goal is to foster healthy interactions that better you and your life. Criticizing another for a slight slip-up serves no one. If you find yourself putting someone else down in your mind because they did not fit some perfect expectation you have, stop it now. More importantly, be wary of ignoring the person on purpose or making them feel left out as some twisted means of revenge. Chances are they will not even know your intent and it will only leave you bitter. This is not a competition to prove who is the better person.
4) DO NOT MAKE EXCUSES – If the other person hurts you on a consistent basis and with intention, it may be time to leave. People say things and do things to hurt the ones they love, but it should not be a regular occurrence. Blaming yourself or excusing their behavior because of [insert reason here] may be a sign that the relationship is toxic. Whether it be spouse, family, co-worker, or friend, if they purposely make you feel like less, love yourself enough to create distance and let go.
5) DO NOT FORGET TO FORGIVE – We all make mistakes. Whatever happened to make you feel ignored may have been a simple misunderstanding or unintended oversight. Not everything directed at us is tinged with malice or meant to be personal. If the other person has never shown you any reason to distrust or question them, find forgiveness. Allow yourself to feel the emotion but also allow room for some error.
From my experience, I will admit these are not always easy things to do. In the midst of our hurt, it becomes easier to make up stories in our head and focus our anger on others. Placing all of the blame on those who truly care, however, will not erase the pain but only create more – in strained relationships, internal stress, and useless mind games.
In the end, it does not really matter who sees you as long as you make the effort to truly see yourself.