It’s not just because you’re a highly sensitive empath. Being ignored hurts.
Modern life gives people many reasons to be preoccupied + inattentive.
Stress, time pressures, worries, as well as distractions like phones + screens…
All these things mean that, sometimes, even the nicest of people are not present for us.
It’s good to give people the benefit of the doubt,
especially in busy places with many human interactions all day.
For example, supermarket check-outs or at the Post Office counter.
Being ignored: accidental or exclusion?
Despite the above factors…
Have you ever felt a burning sensation due to someone refusing to acknowledge your presence socially?
Your body’s response to being ignored
In these cases, your system will be flooded with emotions,
and you’ll feel a mix of confusion, hurt, anger and embarrassment.
You may try to stay calm, but your body is already emotionally disregulated.
If you have experienced childhood emotional neglect or CPTSD,
you are much more likely to be triggered when someone blanks you.
You need to find ways to soothe old abandonment wounds
and to have an internal source of self esteem.
Why Being Ignored Hurts
The pain you feel when you’re purposefully ignored is partly linked to human evolution.
Thousands of years ago social rejection (from our tribe) would have meant certain death.
Equally, when infants are ignored by their caregivers, they soon become extremely distressed.
A baby knows they are in extreme danger without an emotionally attentive adult. (As proven by various disturbing ‘Still Face’ research experiments.)
So, your body is hard-wired to go into survival alert if someone looks through you or refuses to say hello.
If someone ignores you as a deliberate act of contempt, for example turning their back or leaving you out of a conversation, this will lower your immune system.
Being deliberately ignored on a regular basis will make you prone to infections + viruses.
Being Ignored: Are you too sensitive?
If someone consistently ignores you,
you are not being too sensitive
If you feel upset, your response is biological.
Clearly, it’s vitally important to be around people who are emotionally engaged for the most part.
Emotional connection is one reason we HSPs must:
• overcome shyness
• make an effort to make eye contact
• say a friendly word +
• raise a smile at people
…especially if we interact with them daily.
This could be neighbours, co-workers, service personnel, retail staff or people we pass on the street.
Why Are You Being Ignored?
Some people do not want to acknowledge others. This could be for a variety of reasons:
• social anxiety
• mental health problems
• insecurity / low self esteem
• lack of social skills
Ignoring could also be a person’s attempt to make themselves feel superior or in control.
Being Ignored in an Intimate Relationship
Being ignored within an existing relationship is known as being ‘stonewalled’.
Stonewalling is when a person shuts down because they are feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
Stonewalling can be because the silent person feels attacked, vulnerable and unsafe.
This can be mistakenly interpreted as hostile behaviour. In fact, it’s an attempt to protect themselves.
Alternately, you may be with someone who has an avoidant attachment style. This means that as you communicate your feelings and needs more intimately, they’ll create emotional distance.
Finally, being regularly ignored in an intimate relationship can be a form of abuse and control.
What To Do If You’re being Ignored
If being ignored hurts, here’s some things you can do as a highly sensitive empath:
Try to self-soothe yourself emotionally.
Focus on deep outward breaths.
Imagine yourself in your safe place.
Don’t engage while feeling distressed.
Recognise that not everyone is empathic.
Don’t get stuck analyising why the other person ignored you.
Don’t feel guilt or shame (i.e. assuming that it was because of something you did).
Instead, try to rationalise + reaffirm your own value.
Recognise your own good qualities: kindness, empathy, loyalty, friendliness… etc
Think of all the times when you have been respected + valued.
Reach out to or spend time with people who appreciate you.
If you are being stonewalled in an intimate relationship, try to build trust and emotional safety by showing appreciation for the other person. Communicate calmly and take a break when conflict escalates. Learn to communicate non-violently.
If you are with an emotionally avoidant person, learn more about ‘relationship attachment styles‘, including your own. Take an Attachment Quiz.
If you think you might be in an abusive relationship, research what signs to look for and seek help if they apply.
Finally, remember that rejection can be the universe’s protection.
…Do you really want to get to know someone who treats people in a hurtful way?
Article copyright Amy Garner 2022. Copyright Disclaimer + Notice.