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The silent treatment involves the refusal to communicate with an individual and this article will highlight 7 reasons why you should not give the silent treatment. In overall, it damages the other person’s self-esteem and this interferes with their sense of wholeness and mental-wellbeing. It is a cruel form of mental and emotional torture.
Giving the silent treatment might give you the impression that you have won or you are putting a point across. But in the long run, you’re causing more harm than solving the problem.
What is the silent treatment?
It goes by other names such as cold shoulder, stonewalling, ostracism, and sulking. The silent treatment involves the refusal to communicate verbally, non-verbally or electronically with an individual or people. This usually follows an argument or discontention and one party becomes unavailable, uncooperative, or unresponsive and withdraws into silent mode or simply walks away. This may go on for hours, days or weeks. Human beings today are more digital so I must add that this includes the refusal to respond to a text message or ignoring a call for a prolonged period of time. The giver may communicate warmly and joyfully with everyone excluding the victim.
There are times when during a heated discussion or argument you sense that your partner is losing control of their emotions. Or you are too angry to carry on conversing in a rational manner. You may ask for a short time out, or withdraw temporarily to allow tempers to cool down. This is normal and considered okay. however, note the word temporarily because the topic at hand is not necessarily dismissed. It has simply been placed on hold for an optune time.
Individuals who give the silent treatment on the other hand often avoid or thwart any attempts to discuss the topic further. Their favourite phrases include; I don’t know what to say, I don’t want to talk about it, Give me some space to think, you’re smothering me, I need some time alone, etc.
The silent treatment is a way of manipulating or controlling someone.
Why would one give the silent treatment?
The silent treatment is a favourite of individuals with narcissistic tendencies and those aspiring for control and manipulation of others. It is also adopted by people who use avoidance and withdrawal as a conflict resolution technique. People with anger management issues and those that fail to forgive, forget and let go are also inclined to this behaviour. Others are attention seekers and use the silent treatment as a means. Individuals may give the silent treatment to a partner, a family relation, a friend or a child for these reasons;
- Fear of confrontation
- Fear of an unreasonable or abusive partner
- Desire to create an emotional distance
- Teach someone a lesson
- Punish or correct someone
- To protect oneself from an abusive partner
- To manipulate others
- To gain power and control other others
7 Reasons why you should not give the silent treatment
Below are seven reasons why you should not give the silent treatment to anyone.
The silent treatment is a form of abuse
The silent treatment is a cruel way of punishing someone and possess as a form of mental and emotional torture. Psychologists say it is akin to physical torture because the pain it inflicts is just as bad as if someone hurt you physically.
It destroys relationships
The silent treatment does not correct the situation, it only worsens it. Your partner may approach you to re-establish a connection with you and you may feel like you have won or succeeded in putting your point across. No, you haven’t won, your partners need for human connection and belonging demands to be met and he/she needs you to fill the empty space inside, but not for long. The more you present the silent treatment, the more you are pushing them away and one day, someone else may fill that empty space that you always creating during your phase of gloom. And any disruption in your relationship will be your own doing.
You are pushing your partner into another person’s arms
Another reason why you should not give the silent treatment is that you are literally pushing that person away and you are simply growing apart. While you are executing your so-called “punishment”, or “keeping the peace” your partner is feeling lonely. He/she leaves home feeling alone and detached from you.
A human being is meant to connect with other humans. Love and belonging in humans are among the five basic needs for optimal human function. So when you detach yourself through going mute or ignoring someone, you are creating a vacancy that demands to be filled. Your partner may be pushed into another person’s arms to fill the void. Or they may cheat on you emotionally.
Research has shown that most cases of divorce involve a partner that may have been fond of giving the silent treatment. I’m not in the least surprised at this.
Giving the silent treatment is the worst resort you can take for conflict reason.
It rouses negative emotions in the receiver such as distress, anger, loneliness, worthlessness, etc. If you need some time to think and reboot, do not take the whole day and don’t make a habit of it. It’s a selfish act that doest consider the feeling and position of the victim.
Never punish your child with silence, you are not helping them or achieving your desired result. Instead, you are damaging them in ways that will be hard for you to reverse and you might create a monster. It’s the worst form of mental torture strong enough to cause mental health issues in the person that is receiving the treatment. Please find other ways and means of disciplining your child or getting them to do something.
The person on the receiving end of the silent treatment may be forced to find other ways of filling the void you have created
An adult may turn to drug abuse and other meaningless activities just to fill the void that you create by building that stone wall between you. Young adults and children may resort to substance abuse such as drugs and alcohol or engage in risky or self-harming behaviours. In most cases, the girl child might run into an immature sexual relationship in search of a connection and feel wanted.
Ruins the victim’s self-esteem and self-worth
The person that is on the receiving end of the silent treatment may develop low self-esteem, low confidence, and other related mental health issues. This is because they feel ignored, insignificant, unwanted, or nonexistent in the eyes of the person giving the treatment. This interferes with the fulfilment of the love and belonging need and thwarts any chances of attaining happiness and wholeness. Failure to meet one of the five basic human needs has disastrous effects as highlighted in this article.
This is the worst you can do to your partner if you are in a love affair. You and your partner share a life, so if you ruin their self-esteem, you ruin yourself and your future together. If you boost his/her self esteem, you are investing in your own happiness and your future together.
It is childish
Children have the tendency of being upset for some time. They may actually tell you, “I’m not talking to you”. Or, “you are not my friend again”. However, they don’t go for prolonged periods in their sulking states unless otherwise. I believe the may do this because they have no idea of rational conflict resolutions and they are still under the influence of the ID which is more inclined to self-satisfaction regardless of the consequences.
But when an adult emulates a child, they kind of overdo things. Moreover, as an adult, you are expected to have self-control and rational conflict resolutions skills that are not inclined to your own selfish advantage.
How to stop giving the silent treatment.
Acknowledge that giving the silent treatment is wrong
The first step to stopping a bad habit is by recognizing and admitting with yourself that you have a bad habit and it has to be dealt with asap.
Work on your conflict resolution skills
This is best done with your partner in the case of a couple. At your happiest, discuss and brainstorm together how heated conflicts must be resolved and try to stick to what you settle on together. Don’t be stubborn about it and learn to let things go easily.
Respect the opinions and views of others
Often sulking comes when one is displeased with the others behaviour, words or course of action. However, your views and opinions are not always right. Sometimes, look out of yourself and see issues from a different perspective. You will realise that there’s really nothing to be angry about and things are good even when done in a way that is different from what you are thinking. Also, try to listen to others and understand why they do the things that they do.
Talk it out
Sulking won’t put across your feelings or thoughts. On the contrary, it sends a message that you don’t care or value the person enough to speak to them. The best you can do is calmly voice out your displeasure at an opportune time. Do this with an aim of seeking mutual understanding and peace, not to impose ideologies, manipulate, or threaten the other party.
There may be incidences in which you may sense that the person you’re engaged in a confrontation with is angry or enraged to extreme levels and any further provocation would ignite WW3 hence you opt for silence or simply walking away. This is not wrong. It is wise to allow an unreasonably angry person to cool down before attempting to reason further.
Be patient with yourself
Now the ancient saying “old habits die hard” is not a lie. It takes some time to unlearn bad habits especially is you have been practising them for a long time. You need to be determined and patient with yourself. When you find yourself sulking in a silent trance for days tell yourself I’ll do better next time and ensure that you do.
If you are in the habit of giving the silent treatment to the people around you, you must stop this hideous habit following the tips above. You are ruining the people you love and your relationships. In the long run, you may find yourself lonely with everybody avoiding you. If you are on the receiving end, you may share this article with the person involved. Or calmly let them know how their habit of shutting you out makes you feel.
If you are trapped in a toxic relationship, find ways to leave or report the person involved to the appropriate authorities for your own safety.
I would love to hear your views in the comment box below about what you think of the silent treatment if you have ever experienced it as the giver or the victim and other ways in which one can stop this habit. Thanks for reading, stay safe.