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Ignoring people - a defense mechanism
Ignoring people is a defense mechanism
Manners in which we behave or think in order to protect or defend ourselves are being called “defense mechanisms".
Psychologists have identified many human defense mechanisms. The most primitive and instinctive mechanism is DENIAL.
Denial is -
- The act of refusing to comply.
- The act of asserting that something alleged is not true.
- Renunciation of your own interests in favor of the interests of others.
- (law) a defendant's answer or plea denying the truth of the charges against him.
- In psychiatry denial is a defense mechanism that denies painful thoughts.
In other words, by ignoring another person or people we refuse to acknowledge a problem we are supposed to deal with, whether this problem is within our own self-esteem or in the doings and character of others.
Will the act of ignoring solve any problems?
By ignoring another person we are merely postponing a resolution to a problem.
In a specific situation this could be the wiser thing to do, giving time the opportunity to chill explosive temperaments and for all involved to do essential introspection. But in another situations ignoring a person may aggravate the problem.
By intentionally ignoring another person we obtain
a false and passing feeling of control and superiority.
When is ignoring another person not acceptable?
The act of ignoring other people will be unacceptable, or at least very difficult to tolerate, when it is rooted in our incompetence to negotiate a compromise and to arrive at an agreement that will solve, or at least minimize, our problem(s). Tactical ignoring, when we ignore for example a child busy demonstrating their anger and frustration with a tantrum, we are in fact denying the child's problem of incompetence and postponing the resolving of it.
Ignoring another person or people will also be unacceptable when it is the result of our insensitivity to the expectations and feelings of others.
Sheer rudeness is surely the most unacceptable. When we ignore a person with the intention to humiliate and hurt them, we don't exhibit kindness and compassion. Rudeness only provokes contempt and disrespect. No well-bred person with dignity can be happy and contented while being held in contempt.
By ignoring another person we may provoke the following reactions -
- Discontentment and anger.
- Disloyal behavior.
Is ignoring another person completely wrong?
In order to practice the motto 'live and let live', we are often compelled to ignore a specific person or a group of people. By ignoring them we deny or accept our personal problem, which is an incompetence to tolerate the actions of those person/people. We may see our act (ignoring) as our way of bearing ourselves with dignity and of keeping the peace.
What to do when we are being ignored
When we find ourselves in a situation where we are being ignored, we have two options -
- We can participate in the ignore-game and hope for the best. Time may either solve the problem, or worsen it.
- We can initiate the solving of the problem. "Why do you ignore me?" is a simple question one may ask verbally or in writing. The answer will be the next step towards the arrival of an agreement.
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© Martie Coetser
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