Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why do People Give the Silent Treatment?

If you are being given the silent treatment, you are being punished for something, but you are not actually being told what that something is and how you can make up for it. The first step is to notice how you are feeling in the moment- do you feel pulled out of yourself, trying to read your partner’s mind?  Are you angry?  Apologetic?  Scared? Notice just how much you feel hooked into trying to work out this puzzle.  It is not your job to read your partner’s mind.  It is not your job to fix something for someone who isn’t using their words.  Give yourself permission to stop trying.  Take the focus off of your partner’s puzzle, and bring attention to your own feelings.

Why do People Give the Silent Treatment?

There are all sorts of motives for and styles of the silent treatment, but they all boil down to one commonality: people give the silent treatment because it gives them control over the person they are treating with silence
The silent treatment is about control
It only works if the person being given the silent treatment relinquishes control to the one being silent.  The more you try to get your partner to break their silence, the more you are allowing yourself to be controlled by him or her, and the less likely it is that they will talk.  After all, you are giving them exactly what they want, and you are exposing all of your vulnerability while they expose none of theirs.
As difficult as it may be, it is important not to engage in this dynamic. Give yourself the attention that you are tempted to give to your partner.  Let your partner know that you are not willing to try to read his or her mind, but would be glad to talk about whatever the issue is that caused the silent treatment to begin with.  The ball is no longer in your court, and it is up to your partner to pick it up.  Take your attention away from this passive-aggressive dynamic, and focus on your own feelings and needs.
Trust Me I've seen this and been there and I'm not going to live it anymore.

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