by Andrea M. Darcy
Feeling ignored can take a toll on mental wellbeing. We are left lonely, and our self-esteem can drop. This can lead to depression and anxiety.
Why am I always feeling ignored?
In some cases, people feel ignored all the time because of a personality disorder. Personality disorders mean you simply don’t think, feel, and communicate like most people.
It is also possible you are spending time with those who don’t treat you well. This can happen if you have low self-esteem or suffer from codependency.
But most often if we feel ignored it’s because the ways we interact and communicate are actually pushing other people away. We are not creating the space for others to listen to us.
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How to get people to listen to you
So how to stop feeling ignored and start feeling listened to?
1. Drop the ‘you’ for an “I’.
The main reason other people shut down and don’t listen to you is if they feel under attack. If you have a tendency to start most sentences with ‘you’ then try to notice if you are actually always blaming others or criticising and judging them.
When we start sentences with “I” instead of ‘you, the conversation can turn from blame into an invitation to communicate. The classic model here to try is “I feel ______ when you _____.” “You make me feel bad”, which is blame, becomes “I feel bad when you talk to me with an angry voice.”
Can you see how the first one pushes someone away, and the other one invites them to ask you more about how you feel? Or to discuss ways you can get along better?
2. Work with body language.
We don’t communicate just with words but with the our body language.
If you always have your arms crossed and shoulders hunched, you are giving people the message you don’t want to connect with them. So they might be tuning you out.
You might find mirroring helpful. It’s been found that if we posture like the other person, they unconsciously feel more comfortable. So if they lean back in their seat, lean back in yours. If they stand in a wide stance, widen yours. Of course don’t make this too obvious, but it can be fun to try.
Eye contact comes into play here. Maintaining appropriate amounts of it can also keep the other person engaged. Notice if your problem might be a lack of it.
3. Focus on similarities and positives.
If we think that nobody likes us, or that we are too different to be interesting, we will unconsciously give off this message in the way we talk and move. Others will respond to this core belief by treating us in exactly the ways that confirm it. And so the cycle continues.
A simple trick here is to focus on the similarities and positives between you and everyone else you meet. Then try to keep them lightly in your mind for the duration of the conversation. It can be as simple as noticing their eyes being the same colour, that you know you share a hobby, or that you like the blue shirt they are wearing.
4. Bring the positives into the talking, too.
Always feeling ignored at work? Struggle to keep friends? Take time to notice if you only ever talk about negative things.
What you say isn’t necessarily who you are. If you were raised in a household where the adults around you always complained and pointed out what was wrong, it might be you learned to speak negatively instead of in a well-rounded way.
If you really do feel negative and lost inside, then don’t judge yourself. Take the time to find some support. A professional counsellor can help you raise your self-esteem and try new ways of relating.
5. Listen first when feeling ignored.
The very best way to have others interested in what you have to say? Learn to listen well first. Cultivate a real interest in others and what they have to say, and they will want to know what you have to say.
Read our article on “Advanced Listening Tips From Therapists” to become a good listener.
Another way to practice active listening is to ask good questions. When we ask a useful question people know we have heard what they shared and they also see we care about what they are saying. Learn how in our article, “How to Ask Good Questions.”
6. Be more present.
How interested do you feel in another person if you can tell they are distracted, or not interested in you? Is it possible you are distracted around others and need to get more present?
If you have an issue with distraction or adult ADHD then work to integrate mindfulness into your conversations.
This might mean a short mindfulness break before you meet someone, or simply bringing your attention to your breathing and your body during conversations.
This can help you slow down and speak more clearly as well as interrupt less.
7. Work through your emotions in advance.
Are you always approaching conversations with anger, or when you are emotional? This can be overwhelming for others who then tune you out.
A good self-help tool here is to get some paper and write out your emotions before you go meet people. Promise yourself to rip up whatever you write afterwards. This lets your unconscious feel safe to release pent up feelings. Keep writing, without censoring what comes out or trying to make it legible, until you feel the emotions die down.
If this does not help then you might have a serious anger management issue. Anger issues can make all areas of life hard, from holding down a job to gaining your family’s trust. But the good news is that anger issues can respond well to talk therapy. So if this is your problem, don’t be afraid to reach out for support.
Want to chat to a professional about your anger issues, or how lonely you feel? Harley Therapy connects you with top therapists in central London offices. Not in London or even the UK? Our new platform connects you with online and phone therapists quickly and easily, wherever you are.
Have a question about feeling ignored? Post in our comment box below.
Andrea M. Darcy is the writer and lead editor of this site. She left a career in film to retrain in counselling and coaching and become a sought after mental health writer. Find her @am_darcy.