… Or are you dealing with someone who shows disinterest in you?
It can really hurt when you’re excited about a project and you start telling someone about it but they react with complete disinterest — turning away, yawning, reading the newspaper as if completely absorbed in it, interrupting you or cutting you off, turning on the TV (or if it’s already on, they grab the remote and turn up the volume). A very clear, unsubtle message: I don’t care… I’m not interested in what you are saying… You are boring me.
Now, I’m assuming that you didn’t just let loose with a whole barrage of “talking at” him while he was busy. I’m talking about a pattern in a stressful relationship where one partner uses indifference as a tool to hold you at arm’s length — the emotional distance between you widens each time you attempt to have an important conversation, because instead of letting you engage him in dialogue, he pushes you away. You can feel it as clearly as if he reached out and shoved you across the room, but he doesn’t touch you — it’s not physical abuse… it’s all emotional.
Since the Be-Happier tip for this past weekend was to “reconnect” with someone you are in a stressed-out relationship with, I wanted to grab up that topic again and go a bit further with it. It can be really easy to blithely say to someone, “Oh what you need to do is …” Fill in the blank with any kind of pat advice. I strive to avoid that by giving specific examples of things that you can do — actionable steps that will really make a difference if you are consistent with changing your attitude and your actions.
If you are in a relationship — either marriage, friendship, etc — with someone who shows you disdain and contempt by demonstrating indifference, you don’t have to just stand there with a pained look, beating heart and hurt feelings.
It’s one of the hardest things to learn if you are a people-pleaser and have always landed in codependent relationships because of it. You’re afraid to say anything because it always leads to a big deal. You know he’ll accuse you of being too sensitive, or claim that he said something nice that you know he didn’t say (or he’ll shift his tone of voice, repeat what he said before but now suddenly it sounds okay because the veiled contempt is gone).
The big problem with your silence is twofold — 1. it allows the other person to keep bullying you this way with their “indifferent” looks and their cutting you off as if you could not possibly have anything of value to say, 2. it cements you even more firmly in this sick pattern and contributes to your self-doubt and lack of self-worth.
Have courage. You can do this. Next time someone demonstrates indifference to you, take a deep breath and speak up. Stay polite, stay calm. But be on your own side, okay? In my Amazon bestselling stress management book “Forget Your Troubles: Enjoy Your Life Today,” I explain how to be your own cheerleader — have you read it yet? Get the ebook here and jump ahead to Chapter 11 “Be Your Own Cheerleader — validate yourself every day.”
your happiness guru,