Feeling Unheard Can Be Frustrating – Here Are 3 Reasons Your Communication May Be Falling Flat
Do you feel like no one listens to what you are saying? And even if they do listen they don’t understand what you’re trying to get across to them? Like no one really ‘gets you’?
Do you remember the movie ‘Chicago’ with Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones? There is an amazing song there, which at the time when I first saw this musical, literally got me into tears:
Shoulda Been My Name
‘Cause You Can Look Right Through Me
Walk Right By Me
And Never Know I’m There…
I used to feel like a cellophane girl, too. For years to be honest. Totally invisible. And I know how lonely and devastating this place can be.
No One Listens – The Role Of Feeling Safe & The Impact Of Your Past
We are all wired for connection and we deeply long to be seen and heard by others.
And yet, most of us have never learned how to create and sustain deep, close and authentic relationships with others, where we can feel safe enough to allow ourselves to express our feelings and thoughts openly and freely and be fully seen, heard, and received by another person.
This feeling of safety, which is necessary for us to show up in our vulnerability and be seen and heard, always starts inside us.
If we didn’t learn this in childhood or if we experienced serious trauma or toxic relationships later in life we might have learned that it is very risky to express how we feel, what we think, and what we want in a clear, confident, and authentic way.
Instead, we might have created a few ‘strategies’ to get our message across in a way that feels safer at the moment. Unfortunately, these ‘strategies ’ often work against us. Both short term, when the message is not heard and goes unnoticed. But also long-term -as they stand in our way to building healthy, close, and authentic relationships with others.
Let’s look at 3 most common ‘strategies’ you might be using (often without even being aware) that can keep you stuck in the ‘cellophane girl’ role and make it hard for you to be seen and heard the way you would love to be. And what you can do to break free!
Three Obstacles That Could Make You Feel Like No One Listens
- You doubt and/or dismiss your own feelings as if they do not matter.
This is the most common cause of having a hard time communicating your feelings to others.
If you don’t trust your own feelings, if you doubt them thinking:
‘Am I overreacting?
‘Should I really feel that way?’,
‘Maybe I’m just too sensitive? etc.
the chances are you won’t take the risk to speak up at all. But even if you do, your message won’t come across as clear and confident and it’ll be very easy for others to let it go unnoticed.
The truth is, nobody will listen to you if you don’t listen to yourself.
So, the first step is always to stop ignoring, dismissing, belittling, or talking yourself out of how you feel. You have full right to feel whatever you feel. Always.
Your emotions matter – all of them, even the most subtle and the most uncomfortable ones.
They are there for a reason – to show you what’s important to you, what you want and what you don’t want, and how to navigate your life and relationships with most ease and grace possible.
If you tend to dismiss your feelings, the first thing you need to do is to start to acknowledge and welcome all of them, as they arise at the moment.
And the next, to learn how to handle them without allowing them to overpower and overwhelm you ( and without depending on others to make you feel better 🙂
(read this is you want to learn how to do that – ARE YOU EMOTIONALLY OVERWHELMED)
Being ok with all of your emotions will allow you to share them with others without feeling awkward or guilty, without explaining yourself or apologizing for how you feel, as well as without blaming others and triggering their defense mode. It will allow you to speak with clarity, confidence, and authenticity. Standing in your power and in your truth. Can you imagine how different your message will be then?
How To Listen To Others & Not Judge Your Own Emotions
- You take responsibility for the other person’s reactions.
This is always a recipe for disaster.
If you’re scared or deeply uncomfortable with how the other person might respond to what your say, you will never be able to express yourself with clarity and confidence.
You will try to beat around the bush. You will walk on eggshells. You will carefully choose your words, often twisting the very core of what you want to say, just to make it more ‘digestible’ for the other person.
In a nutshell, you will use all means available to you to manipulate your message in a way that will increase the chances of the other person reacting the way you want them to react, or at least preventing them from reacting in the way you’re most uncomfortable with.
Playing small, hiding behind vague and confusing words, apologetic tone of voice, submissive body posture. Do you really believe you can be heard that way?
Having grown up around men with huge suppressed anger in them, I have learned to be totally terrified of other people getting mad at me (or at anything else for that matter).
I used to walk on eggshells with my partners, bosses, and even friends sometimes – carefully hiding parts of myself that I believed might aggravate them.
The more I did that, the more invisible I felt. The more lonely I felt. And to be honest, I the more I despised myself for all the little understatements, dishonesties, and manipulations I believed I had to use, just to keep myself safe.
It took me a long time to understand that I was not responsible for making others feel a certain way (or for preventing them from feeling a certain way). My responsibility was to learn how to be ok, how to stay home in myself and in my own safety, no matter how they felt.
So, we are coming back to emotional strength and resilience here. Only if you are ok and comfortable even with the most uncomfortable emotions -both your own and those of other people – will you be able to honestly say what you think or feel.
This inner sense of safety will give you all the freedom and confidence to express yourself not only with clarity, power and authenticity but also with respect, kindness, and compassion.
Because there are no hidden agendas then. It’s just you sharing your truth with others. And authentic truth, when spoken from the place of inner power, is always heard.
Why No One Can Change The Discomfort That May Come From Speaking Your Truth
3. You wait till you can’t hold it together.
This often comes as a result of the 2 points mentioned above.
If you doubt your feelings and if your own and other people’s emotions make you uncomfortable, you probably tend to avoid expressing your feelings as long as you can.
Do you believe that is better (easier 🙂 not to spoil the good mood by bringing up something that feels off?
Do you delay talking about something that really bothers you until it becomes unbearable?
Does it feel like your little upsets/irritations/disappointments are not worth mentioning to your partner, friend, or colleague at work?
It’s so interesting how far we can go and how creative we get with finding excuses not to go into the discomfort of saying difficult things out loud.
I must admit I was a queen of avoiding any kind of confrontation for years. In hindsight, I find it very amusing to see how my excuses were getting more and more refined and sophisticated but the pattern still stayed there.
In the final stage of my ‘cellophane’ act, I started to pretend that I was too ‘spiritual’ to be bothered by my everyday frustrations. I insisted I was ‘beyond’ things like my daughter’s dirty socks in the middle of the living room or my husband’s sarcastic remark about my latest project. My vibrations were too high to be brought down by such mundane matters. Well, as you might imagine it didn’t end well, just like with all the others, less sophisticated excuses to bypass the discomfort.
We all know very well that all these ‘little’ things pile up but we often play it out to the last drop. And then… we lose it completely.
Once we lose it, our chances for clear and open communication are lost. And our chances to be heard are gone either.
We switch to the attack/defend/fight/flight/play dead survival mode. The way our nervous system works is that we can have either ‘connection’ or ‘protection’ – but not both.
Connection – where we can truly see, hear and resonate with one another – requires safety. And safety is gone once you start the war because you feel like you’ve had enough.
The aftermath of waiting till you can’t hold it together is not only that it reduces your chances of getting your message across and feel heard. It also breaks the trust between you and the person you ‘lost it’ with and it always takes a lot of time and effort to rebuild the safety and trust.
So, the next time you feel like some of your concerns are too small and not worth mentioning to others, please think again. Facing a bit of discomfort of bringing it up, might save you plenty of pain and suffering in the long run.
Start Listening To Yourself First And Others Will Start Listening To You Too
If you feel like nobody listens to you, start observing what usually happens in your interactions with others. And pay close attention to whether your message might be:
–too quiet (I’m not sure if I can feel this way)
-too manipulative (I might feel …… but please, please, please, don’t get angry with me)
-too loud (attack, defence, blaming, playing the victim, etc).
If any of the above sounds familiar to you (and for most of us who struggle with expressing our feelings it is all three:) there is just one thing you need to focus on – your emotional strength and resilience.
Building your skills of being ok with your own emotions and not being threatened by the emotions of other people is the first step to be able to express what you feel, think, want, prefer in a totally different way.
With clarity and confidence. With kindness, respect and compassion both for yourself and for the other person.
It all starts with you. ALWAYS.
But it never ends up with you.
Being seen, heard, received by others, building safe, close, and heartwarming connections with others is what makes our lie rich, full and meaningful.