Have you ever heard yourself think “People don’t care about me” or “nobody even bothers?” Well, while that may be true, have you then wondered if you may have contributed to that? Oh yes! I know we normally prefer to feel detached from the reasons why people treat us the way they do. However, at times we need to stop and take stock of how we may have unknowingly encouraged people to treat us wrongly.
I had a call today from a friend. A very good friend. I had recently been upset about her uncaring attitude towards me. My conversation with her was also an eye opener to me. I did my best to express my dismay at her lack of sensitivity towards my plight. I expected more support from her. She in turn pointed out some facts to me explaining why this came to be the case. Our heart to heart conversation has led me to question if I had discouraged her from caring for me without realizing.
Privacy! Yes privacy was the main culprit. In the past, people appeared to “care” about me. They asked me questions about things. They asked questions about my condition and how I felt. Answering these litany of endless questions left me overwhelmed. They felt more like “prying” questions rather than “caring” ones.
Consequently, people perceived my withdrawal from answering them as a subtle hint that I wanted to be left alone. This resulted in their deliberately deciding to respect my privacy by leaving me be. I am not going to lie, it felt good not been quizzed at every opportunity in the name of “care”. I sometimes jokingly referred to these as ‘information-seeking-CID-tendencies’ or ‘nosiness’ on their part.
However, my private space slowly became less comfortable and lonelier with each passing day. I started to wish that somebody would ask me how I was. As days turned to weeks and weeks to months, sadly, nobody asked. I guess they did not want to get their heads bitten off by my harsh tongue or rolling eyes. I felt like screaming for attention but it never came. Everyone assumed I was going to ask for help if I needed one. It became even more embarrassing for me to reach out. I dropped little hints and then even larger hints. My attention seeking also went from subtle to obvious until I had a proper breakdown which luckily a clever friend saw as a “cry for help”.
My good friend made me realise that my attitude of pushing everyone away coupled with my vehement refusal to speak or open up meant that no one could help. They could not come into my head to read my thoughts either. So they all just stayed away hoping I was going to come to them when I was ready. As we spoke, I appreciated how lucky I was to have such a friend like her who saw beyond my snipes and tantrums, ignored them and still came to my rescue. For this, I was thankful.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so blessed. So I want to open your eyes to see with me why there can be disadvantages to going all “cold-turkey” or “leave-me-aloney” on everyone. While I still want my privacy, I have learnt to acknowledge peoples’ care and concern and to also appreciate it. I agree that can feel very nosey at times but perhaps realising that people only mean well most times can help us to be more patient with them. The problem is that most times though they have no clue how to.
To you the friend who is constantly being pushed away, try not to take it personal. It is quite stressful dealing with “stuff”. You can give your friend space, but please, please, still find time to ask how they are as they may have trapped themselves in the private corner of discomfort. It gets lonely at times but knowing you care will make all the difference, trust me!
Do not fall into the “I am fine!” trap! “Oh how are you?” and you always automatically say “I am fine” remember it is also a question and an opportunity for you to say you are “not fine” and possibly get help. The thing with care and compliments is that if you keep throwing them back at the giver, they gradually get withdrawn unconsciously too. Perhaps they too become used to your frequent answers and just assume you are fine. You can encourage them with a smile when you are fine and even say “thank you for asking”. That way, you encourage them to ask next time and also reassure them that you do not feel disturbed by their questions.
We have to see that though we may not be rude about pushing people away, we may choose to be passive and it can still have just about the same effect of turning people off and pushing them away.
So have you ever boxed yourself into a private corner like I did? Please leave us a comment below and let’s hear about your experience. Did you manage to get any help in the end?
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