Today’s blog is all about reexamining 3 of the core belief systems we hold that lead us to give our power away when people dismiss us (And we’ll be covering the 4th core belief system in our next blog 😊).
By changing our perspective on them, we can release ourselves from the toxic hold they have on us!
When people ask me what I do, I tell them, I’m a communications coach. My specialty is helping people talk
- about the tough stuff,
- and when things get tricky.
They ask me what this means, and I tell them, I help people:
- Ask for a promotion.
- Say NO confidently and put an end to being a workhorse.
- Pitch and get 30 million from the toughest investor board.
- Create space in their company for the conversations that create a culture of productivity & accountability.
- Have a heart talk with their dad and create a radically different relationship.
- Communicate through differences with their partner AND make the relationship stronger than ever.
And guess what I get asked most often?
The one question I get more than any other question is: How do I get someone who is not talking to talk?
- How do I deal with being shunned at work?
- How do I protect myself against someone in leadership that’s silently pushing me out?
- How do I say something witty when someone gives me a compliment but means a diss?
- How do I clear the air with a friend when all we seem to be doing is walking on eggshells?
- How do I handle someone ghosting me, stonewalling me, or giving me the silent treatment?
Of all the conversations they can be having!!
Conversations that would:
- Make them more money;
- Create more fun in their life;
- Get them more of what they want;
The conversation they are most interested in having is the one that is not happening!
So I decided to write a 3-part blog series dedicated towards:
- TOXIC SILENCE PART 1: HOW TO GET YOUR POWER BACK BY REFRAMING SHUNNING, STONEWALLING, GHOSTING & THE SILENT TREATMENT.
- TOXIC SILENCE PART 2: HOW TO WIN WHEN PEOPLE SHUN, STONEWALL, GHOST OR GIVE YOU THE SILENT TREATMENT.
- TOXIC SILENCE PART 3: GOING BEYOND SILENCE – THE REAL (AND MORE SOPHISTICATED) METHOD FOR OWNING YOUR POWER.
Cause I gotta tell ya! People’s obsession with “the unspoken” BLEW MY MIND!
Until I remembered…
When I was 16, I used to steal my mom’s Cosmopolitan magazines, then hide in my room, in that really (really) small space between my desk & bed to learn about “life”.
The magazine had a special “Advice” column where Cosmo would give … yup, you guessed it: advice… to a reader about anything.
Two things about the Advice column puzzled me:
- That given the chance to ask about ANYTHING, “like how can I make a billion dollars?” almost every woman asked about men. How to get them, keep them, train them, make them do things they love, and stop doing the things that irked them.
- Of all the questions they could ask about men, most asked: “how can I get a man who disappeared to reappear?”, “how can I be seen by a man who doesn’t know I exist?”, and “how can I get an indifferent or unavailable man’s attention and dedication?”
Essentially they asked: how do I get a man who doesn’t care TO CARE?
I remember thinking: How are fully grown women this “un-grown up”?
I also remember feeling confused by the questions.
In my neck of the woods (Amman – Jordan), boys didn’t ghost girls. They worked really hard to win them over.
And I most definitely never had an experience where a boy who liked me, disappeared out of the blue with no warning or explanation.
Flash forward to me in my early twenties in Toronto…
I definitely intimately understood the questions.
And paid a whole lot of money to “dating” programs designed by men for women, promising to teach them how to avoid being unexplainably ghosted.
Why is it that we are so obsessed with talking to the people who don’t seem to want to talk to us?
Well because being dismissed doesn’t feel good, duh Lulwa!
Ok, I get it.
Here’s the real issue though…
When people get violent with us (i.e. they get aggressive or outright attack us):
- YES it surprises us.
- YES it annoys us.
- YES it angers us.
- YES we want them to back the hell off.
Ultimately, we feel in the right, and are sure that they’re in the wrong.
However, when people get silent with us (i.e. they shun, stonewall, ghost or give us the silent treatment):
It makes us feel anxious & insecure.
It makes us want to reach out to them.
We have an unexplainable nagging feeling that we’re“wrong” that they are in some way on a “higher” ground than us.
THAT is at the heart of what we need to unpack, individually and collectively, if we are to ever get our power and freedom back.
Yeah, there’s a whole lot of attachment theory explanations to this phenomenon.
Namely, that people with an anxious attachment style have a fear of abandonment and want to close the gap.
And people with a dismissive attachment style have an aversion to emotional flooding and so need more space.
This theory also posits that people who have an anxious attachment style attract people who have a dismissive attachment style and vice versa.
That explains the push-pull dynamics of this pairing.
What it doesn’t explain is this:
If both are:
- A dysfunctional pattern
- Based on trauma
- That requires healing.
Then why do those who dismiss seem to have more “clout” or “power”?
If you, like me, love philosophy, then pondering such matters is just fascinating!!
Answering this question though is powerful in a practical way…
Because it helps you redefine the power dynamic and own back your power!
#1 Because we live in a society that punishes violence and praises silence.
When a woman asks repeatedly for what she wants, we call her a nag.
When a man barely comes out of his “man cave”, we say he needs his space.
When a boss throws a stapler at her employee, we send her to court.
When a boss encourages the team to completely shun a colleague, the colleague quits.
When a friend represses everything that bothers her, we say she’s putting on a brave face.
When another blurts it all out without processing, we call him reactive.
Cool kids say something and mean another; it makes them sassy and funny.
Uncool kids speak their heart. We say they wear it on their sleeve and secretly feel it is pathetic.
I most definitely do not think that violence as a response is right OR healthy.
I just happen to think that SILENCE IS EQUALLY TOXIC!
Yeah, I can hear you saying…
Violence is definitely worse than silence!
Violence: Timmy Jones getting “angry” and breaking Jim’s jaw in a bar fight.
Silence: A whole bunch of people choosing not to talk to Sally.
Here’s the deal.
SILENCE LEADS TO VIOLENCE
You know what silence leads to?
- Toxic work environments.
- Relationships where you can talk about little beyond hockey and the weather.
- Complete psychological collapse in people who’ve been in solitary confinement.
You know what else silence leads to?... People who tweak out and cause mass violence. I’m sure some instances from the news can come to mind in recent years or months!
Silence is not better than violence.
Silence is a form of violence.
#2 Because We Think Silence is Morally Superior
Silence is noble – when we withhold our thoughts and emotions in the moment, AND THEN find the right time, place and words to speak that is.
The kind of silence we are talking about though isn’t that. It is…
When you’re asking your partner to pay rent and they won’t answer. And you ask and ask and ask. And they still don’t answer, so you pay for it yourself.
That is not noble. That is using silence as a weapon of control
When a girl (because the term woman doesn’t apply here) “plays hard to get” and sends you around the block, ignoring your messages and responding sparingly.
That is not noble. That is manipulative.
When your boss fires you through HR without having a single honest conversation with you.
That is not noble. That just lacks cajones, yes?
When a family member or friend stuffs how they actually feel about certain interactions with you, then tells everyone but you what’s bothering them, coz they don’t wanna hurt you.
They may love the “image” of being noble. And they may be genuinely trying. If they are though, they’re really misguided in their attempt at noble action!
Going out with someone for 3 months who then turns over and plays dead.
That’s what children do when they get bored of a toy.
And newsflash, people’s actions don’t reflect you, unless you choose to give them that power.
That is all on them, and that is pure infantile behavior.
#3 Because We Think Silence is Powerful & Classy
We believe that silence takes self control.
And violence denotes lack of self control.
Therefore, essentially silence is classier and more refined than violence.
It is true that exploding like a grenade lacks self control.
It is also true that there is a type of silence that is classy.
It is called emotional maturity.
It is when a person knows not to blurt out what they think or feel in a moment. It is when they are able to sit with it and fully process it before sharing.
THAT IS OWNING YOUR PERSONAL POWER.
That is not the same as someone who professes how eternally grateful they are to you one day and stonewalls you a few months later.
That is not someone who sends you a handwritten card telling you: “we couldn’t have done this without you!” and then proceeds to shun (then fire you) you a few weeks after.
That is not someone who buys you diamond earrings and ghosts you a week after.
THAT SHIT IS TOXIC.
IT SHOWS LACK OF CHARACTER (or at least lack of control / judgment in the moment).
IT SHOWS LACK OF HONESTY AND COURAGE.
A person who does that doesn’t know their mind.
They have no comprehension of their boundaries.
They are incapable of dealing with their “icky” emotions & the emotional floods of others.
They are unskilled at speaking what is true for them.
So they choose the road of least resistance.
That doesn’t demonstrate self control.
It demonstrates lack of self mastery.
#4 Because We Think We’re Being Dismissed by Someone Who’s More Choosy
Yeah, our negative ego is bound to pull this one.
They won’t talk to me? They must have better things to do with their time, cooler friends to hang out with, prettier or more handsome dates to go out with.
If someone dismissed us, there must be something wrong with us, no?
It must be because they are better, no?
THIS is the one that gets us the most.
AND this is what we will unpack to give you back your full power and authority in our next blog two weeks from now!
One thing I’d love to leave you with this week:
TAKE YOUR POWER BACK BY REDEFINING SILENCE.
BECAUSE KNOWING WHAT THINGS ACTUALLY ARE AND HOW TO NAME THINGS IS CRUCIAL TO CLEARING THE TOXIC FOG OF THE UNSPOKEN!
Meditate on this!
- Toxic silence is not better than violence or being explosive.
- It is petty and manipulative, and at best misguided.
- It lacks self mastery.
- It lacks self knowledge, self regulation or consideration.
(the qualities we develop as we grow up, and frankly develop the rest of our brain & personality).
The only person giving power to “THE UNSPOKEN” and the people who engage in acts of toxic silence is YOU.
TOXIC SILENCE is like a tiny puppet casting a shadow that is larger than life on the wall.
See the small behind the big.
Discern the right size and context.
And your discernment will set you free!
Until next time,
Mike & Lulwa
P.S. Also, I’ve been waiting for this moment, and I’m so excited to share it with you!! Lulwa entered her first speaking competition… EVER! (with Speaker Slam, on the topic of Impact). And this is the story of how she, as a hypersensitive empath, healed through using her voice, and how she found her inner-fierce and became antifragile.
It is 4 min & 25 sec. Can’t wait for you to watch it!!
Other content that might interest you:
- Understanding Stress and Reactivity – Part 1 of 2
- The Counter-Instinctive Way To Manifest Wealth & Wellbeing – Part 1
- The Counter-Instinctive Way To Manifest Wealth & Wellbeing – Part 2
- The Counter Instinctive Principle to Achieving Audacious Goals & Building Habits that Stick
Attend my 1 hr FREE guided group meditations – Sign up now.
Blog collaboration: Mike Popovici & Lulwa Saffarini, Blog written by: Lulwa Saffarini
- Main photo licensed form Adobe Stock
- Meme in body of this blog from makeameme.org