We are entering the holiday season! Holidays can be filled with joy but sometimes all those family functions can also be sad when we miss those we love or feel ignored and lonely. When family ignore you, it can be a difficult task to deal with the situation. Being ignored brings up all different kinds of emotions. You might feel hurt that you’re being left out, or you might feel angry, or maybe even confused. In fact, you’re probably feeling all of these emotions at once. Don’t worry. You aren’t the only with a dysfunctional family! Here is what to do when family ignores you.
Why Does My Family Ignore Me?
First, the best thing to do is put some honest thought into why the family member may be ignoring you. This will help you be prepared for when you face them. It will also give you the opportunity for self-reflection and to look at things from their perspective. Also important to consider is how long this hurtful behavior has been going on. The answer to this will a clue as to why they may be ignoring you. If has been a long time or a short time you will also have an ideas how big or small the problem may be.
There could be a number of reasons why family members are ignoring you. Perhaps you hurt or upset them in some way and they’re angry. They could be jealous of you so they push you away because they don’t want to be reminded of their negative emotions. Or maybe you’re dealing with something in your life that they don’t know how to talk to you about.
Watch their body language and eye contact at the next family gatherings. Does the way they respond to you match that of how they respond to others? If they are withdrawn from everyone, it maybe they are overwhelmed with their own life and it is actually nothing personal at all.
How To Deal With Family Members That Ignore You
Here are a few tips for how to deal with family members that ignore you and get the relationship back on track. Remember, it may be necessary to wade through some uncomfortable waters if you fear confrontation or rejection. But it is kind of like taking off a band-aid. Sometimes you just have to get it over with so you can move on.
They important thing here is be on your best behavior as you try to make things right. All human beings make mistakes and deserve a chance at forgiveness whether it is us for behaving inappropriately while going through a hard time or them for the bad things they said.
1. Keep your feelings in check.
Being ignored can cause a flood of negative feelings about yourself, but the situation may not have anything to do with you personally and you may not have done anything wrong. Take a deep breath and try to keep yourself from going off the deep end with your assumptions. If you find yourself thinking things like “everybody hates me” or “nobody wants to be around me” recognize that these thoughts are just not true. At the end of the day, that kind of negative talk will only make you feel worse.
Keep your emotions grounded in reality and deal with what’s actually happening, not with what you think is happening. The last thing you want to to work yourself up and get all angry at them and then find out they weren’t even intentionally ignoring you.
Balancing your emotions and is super important before you address the situation head on. Talking to them is the best way to get past things but wait until you are calm and collected so you have a conversation that doesn’t make them feel attacked or leave you feeling vulnerable.
2. Address the situation head-on.
Confronting your family is the best way to get the situation out in the open. It may be a difficult discussion to have, but it’s worth the effort. Keep in mind though that a conversation is not one-sided and just because you want to talk about the issue doesn’t mean they do. They may shut you down or refuse to talk about it and you can’t force them to open up. The best way to get good results is to go into the conversation with an open heart and open mind. You need to convey how you are feeling and ask them for what you want.
You might say something like, “We haven’t talked in weeks and I feel like you are ignoring me and that makes me sad. I am wondering why you are acting distant from me. I want us to be close again. Could you please tell me what is causing this?”
Let the family member know what you are feeling (sad, frustrated, worried, angry, isolated, alone, etc.) when they ignore you. This may help them be able to emotionally connect more and feel moved to share how they are feeling. Be curious. Ask them how they feel and if they know what is causing those feelings. Understanding the family dynamics in play can go along way towards offer you some peace of mind. Often not knowing what is happening or why is the worst part.
3. Allow space and be kind.
After confrontation, you may still experience a bit of the silent treatment as they try work out their feelings and make sense of new information that may have been exchanged. Allow your family member to have some space and try to stay in a positive space. Just because they’re ignoring you doesn’t mean you have to ignore them or behave in an ice way. Put on your happy face and act like nothing is wrong. When you need to interact, smile, ask how they are, and pretend like everything’s normal. It may take some time, but that may be just what they need to start coming around. Sometimes it takes people a little while to defrost. Sometimes they need the other person to reach out and extend the olive branch first. Be the bigger person.
4. Enlist the help of a mediator.
If your family member doesn’t want to talk to you about what’s going on, maybe they’ll talk to someone else. For instance, if your older sisters are ignoring you, maybe they’ll talk to your parents about it. Talk to someone you both trust and ask them to intercede on your behalf to find out what’s going on. Adult children sometimes still need help to do the right thing! Don’t take this option as an easy out. Only use it if you are unable to address the situation head on because they refuse to listen or speak to you at all.
5. Pat yourself on the back.
If you have tried to focus on the good things and made all of these efforts to repair any damage to the relationship, then go ahead and pat yourself on the back. Hopefully your attention to the relationship paid off and you are once again close friends. If not, just remember, you don’t need that family member’s approval for your own sense of self-worth. Go ahead and approve of yourself regardless of how they treat you.
If all of these different things that you have tried in order to reconcile fail, it may be time to ask yourself if the relationship is worth trying to save. If you are dealing with a toxic family members that won’t extend you mutual respect or deal with things in a healthy way, it may be time to close that door and set healthy boundaries. You don’t need to deal with the emotional abuse of being purposefully ignored after you have tried to find the cause and apologized for any missteps. Maybe their own experiences are holding them back. Don’t let them hold you back. It may be time to release them and let them go. If this is the case, work on forgiveness so that you don’t harbor any bitter feelings while still maintaining the distance you need.
When family ignores you, first take a look at your own behavior. A lot of times typical causes may be that you did something that caused the family member hurt, or they’re jealous or embarrassed to be around you for some reason. Get to the bottom of it, deal with the root cause, and find a way back to your relationship with kindness and an open heart.
I hope this article helps you avoid wasting your emotional energy next time and helps you to overcome the situation more quickly in the future with open communication and a positive attitude. Do you have any good advice you would like to add to this? Share @familyfocusblog!