If you landed here chances are you are experiencing a sense of feeling unsupported whether it be from a partner, family member, friend, or colleague.
When we receive any of the following responses, it comes across as unsupportive:
- No response - the person walks away or does not reply
- Changing the subject - the person begins talking about self and does not ask any follow-up questions
- Minimizing your experience - the person says “you are too sensitive”
- Denial of your feelings - the person says “you are not depressed”
- Insulting - the person says “you’re crazy for thinking or feeling that”
A lack of support can lead to feeling disconnected, sad, disappointed, frustrated, hurt, angry and other unpleasant emotions. Physical sensations experienced include tightness in one’s chest or stomach, heart racing, brain fog, muscle tension, fatigue, and others.
Wanting to be understood is a normal human need. One’s own power comes in many forms, including not taking one situation and overgeneralizing and personalizing it into an “all or nothing” thinking error. Examples would be “no one ever listens to me," "no one ever supports me," "what is wrong with me?”
Critical thinking is valuable when it comes to dealing with one’s emotions. “How did I get here? How often does this happen to me? Am I someone who offers support to others? Especially, the person I believe is being unsupportive to me? What is my communication style?” Pay attention and see if you are adding or subtracting any details to the story you are telling yourself about this event.
Navigating your thoughts and feelings comes from experience and awareness of your needs, and interpretations of how and why these needs are not being met. First, decide how much this particular event matters in the scheme of things (perspective taking). Then discuss your concerns with the other person; let them know how you feel (it hurt me when you…) as a result of their behavior (you said I was crazy for thinking/feeling...). The example above is a typical assertiveness training technique.
Lastly, avoid labeling and/or name-calling (you were a jerk to me when…) or retaliatory threats (I am not going to talk to you). It is a lot easier to be heard when feelings are shared in a non-defensive way.
It is wonderful to be supported and heard, and while some people experience this on a regular basis, others experience being heard less often, or almost not at all. Don’t let other people’s behavior sidetrack you from how you want to live your life. Keep on Trucking!