Wednesday, December 17, 2008

51 - When people know you're (getting) upset but don't show their sensitivity

(I don't know if I'm going to make sense. I'm pissed.) Today, I got really upset by one friend and tried to find consolation in four others. I still ended up arriving home utterly pissed off. I didn't want to be. I wanted to write about something happier today, but no. No, because I just had to get it out of my system. It's taken my six hours of playing online poker and watching television to finally wrap my head around why I hated what I hated today. This post's title is pretty self-explanatory. I hate it when people know you're (getting) upset but they don't seem to care.

At our school, we take a class called Theory of Knowledge (TOK), also known as epistemology, the study of knowledge. Much like in any other subject, but especially in TOK, we are required to define what we actually mean by the different words included in the essay question/topic. In other words, I need to tell you what I mean by the words in my title step-by-step, so that you can grasp onto the general idea considerably better.

That's exactly what I'll do with this post because I feel that there are many reasons behind today's problem depending on which part of the title you or I focus on. Here they are:

Let's start with the word 'people'. Usually, you feel like people are being insensitive to your feelings when you feel that those people are close to you. You trust them and care about them. Therefore, you expect them to be sensitive because you're sensitive toward them.

But that's just the problem. Expectations.

Expectations of receiving in return all that you've given them. But in reality, perhaps they don't care about you and/or they mightn't trust you. They may not feel like they're close to you. These people may not actually be sensitive toward you even if you expect them to be, even though you want them to be, even though you need them to be. The first part of this problem may be due to the fact that these 'people' whom you expect to care about you just aren't the 'people' you thought they were. They're not your friend or your close family. You've given them a big title like favorite aunt, most trustworthy, or best friend but they fail to live up to that title. Are these people really as good as you made them out to be?

Going back to the actual title, this is about getting upset. In my experience of knowing people, it's quite easy to spot when somebody is upset. They pout, they cry, they don't want to talk, they limit their social communication, they shake their head, they sigh, they stop smiling, they stop joking, their humor gets dry, et cetera...

The second part of today's annoyance is the fact that maybe these people in question are too unaware of other people's feelings. They don't hear the disappointment in your voice or they don't sense that your sarcasm is being used as a defense mechanism rather than as a comical tool. I always thought that I was pretty open with my emotions but when people continue to joke around, smile and laugh around me when I'm upset, I wonder to myself: "Am I obviously angry right now? Am I actually coming across as sad?" What do you do when the people around you can't tell how you're feeling even when you're displaying your emotions ever-so-openly? Doesn't it worry you that people can't tell by your facial expressions and your bodily mannerisms that you're upset whenever you are? Or is it just the fact that they're stupid?

Now, the final bit is what angered me the most. It builds upon Part 1 and Part 2, in that it sort of reinforces the fact that they're insensitive. Part 1 was that these people were insensitive because they didn't know they were meant to be sensitive since they didn't believe the relationship was tight. Part 2 was that they were insensitive because they were unaware that you were upset. Part 3 is a lot more annoying.

Part 3 shows that even when they are the right people, your best friends and your close family, and even though they can see you're upset, these intuitive people whom are close to you just don't show you that they know how you feel, that they care about how you feel, that they want to make you feel better or even acknowledge the fact that you're upset, even though they know.

If it's because they purposefully ignore your distress because they just can't be bothered to deal with that right now, then it's pointless in remaining close with them for any longer. You go to a person for consolation and just because that person is feeling happy, he/she feels that he/she can ignore your feelings lest he/she might become upset too.

There's also the possibility that people 'don't know how to deal with' you being upset. I can understand that. There are some people that I will never know what to say in front of but the thing that sets apart real friends and less loyal friends explicitly is whether or not they try to make you feel better. As long as I feel people are acknowledging that I'm upset, showing that they respect my feelings and care about them, I will always, always reciprocate and show that I can be sensitive for them too in their times of need.

I hate it when people never try to deal with problems, whether they're battles within oneself, conflicts with other people or disagreements between him/her and me. Sometimes, it's obvious to me that people care about me. They just choose not to. They choose to say they 'don't know what to say' because it's just easier. How lazy and uncommitted is that?

The general problem with people being insensitive when you're upset is the fact that it raises so many questions in your mind. Do they really not know that you're angry right now? Is it not obvious that you're upset? Do you appear stoic? Why don't they show some compassion? Do they actually feel empathy? Do they not want to because it's just difficult? Does this actually seem fair to them?

Do they expect you to do all the work in this relationship while they sit on your coattail? Why even bother with him/her, even when you're happy, or even when they're the ones that are upset?
Are these the right people you should be expecting to care about you? Do you really need anybody to care about you?

I hope I've demonstrated that coming across as being insensitive is a dangerous thing to do. It confuses people, makes them worry, scares them even.

When people know you're upset but come across as if they don't care, do you hate it too?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My goodness. Thank you so much. I never could explain this, but you channeled it extremely well.