Get Used To Being Ignored

Drawing of two people ignoring someone.

Get used to being ignored.

I think that’s the best strategy for psychological health for anybody that wants to be an artist or writer. Hell, it’s the best strategy for psychological health for everybody.

What drives you wilder and hurts more than being ignored? Especially if that coveted attention is being lavished on someone who’s a bad egg or just not particularly interesting.

There are probably, already, some people here, greasing up their egos, and believing they’re above attention seeking. You’re liars and frauds.

Everyone needs attention. This is a social species. Even hermits seek attention through a loud sort of absence. So let’s lay aside the moral preening for a tad and understand how to actually overcome the mal-adaptive side of this perfectly normal drive.

The first step to getting there is understanding why we crave attention. The reason for this is simple. We crave attention because attention means that we have a chance for influencing our environment. And since influencing our environment ensures everything from survival to the Beatles; it’s not something we’re ever going to give up.

If the Beatles aren’t your thing then imagine your artist, scholar, or religious figure of choice. Now imagine if that person just sort of never did anything because you know that would be gauche. That would be attention seeking. Oh, gosh darn it y’all I just can’t stomach being the center of attention.

Isn’t it better that these people who had something to say did?

Now that I’ve established why attention seeking is natural and not inherently wicked I’ll illustrate how to get used to being ignored.

Getting used to being ignored is incredibly important because it’s going to greatly influence your quality of life. You’ll fret less and do more.

The manner in which I’ll illustrate this will involve the description of a hypothetical person. Here goes.

There’s a fellow who has worked very hard at building a solid foundation of knowledge, vocabulary, speaking skills, and physical fitness. It is often that he is correct. In fact over the years he has come to observe that the things he warns about and the trends he predicts come true with uncanny accuracy.

You’d think that such a person would hold a rather august position in their respective society. Or at the very least that they exert some level of respect and influence.

Well, the reality is that sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. What’s especially interesting is that even when they do they still get ignored.

Why?

Well, first let’s begin with the body. The human body is an incredibly elegant and well tuned sort of thing. Generally it hums along with a surprising level of homeostasis. It’s surprising because the universe in which that homeostasis occurs is rather chaotic.

As amazing as this homeostasis is, it’s not ever present. The body is a vast network of organs, cells, and even other organisms. The balance of these varies and the resultant confusion of imbalance can be quite loud.

This is all a very fancy and roundabout way of saying that people who aren’t listening might just have to fart.

In light of this knowledge it seems a bit silly to take offense at the inattention of the gassy. But don’t beat yourself up too much. Who after having delivered an elegant and well thought out point with perfect elocution would pause to consider the gastric state of his audience?

After the body comes the mind. The mind is ever awash in memories and associations.   Any number of things you say and that occur in the environment where you and your audience participate can trigger an overwhelming flood of memories and ideas. After drowning in these for a bit your listeners may very well have something of their own to say. And they may even shout it.

The third reason that you should get used to being ignored is parsimony. We are limited beings and we know it. It is for this reason that we are parsimonious with our time and attention. Generally, at least as far as I’ve observed even the best among us tend to lavish more attention to things they like and consider important than to new or opposing ideas.

This little trifecta has hopefully given some insight as to why you might be ignored. But how does it illustrate that we should be used to being ignored that we should accept being ignored? Are you to resign yourself to shouting at a wall?

Well, no. The point of explaining these things is to temper the emotional reaction which could destroy your message. Understanding these things will allow you to keep the level head necessary to maintaining the energy for continuing to carry your art, craft, or idea forward.

One final idea that I’ll throw towards this end is the need for patience. Don’t just assume you’re being ignored. Let people digest your work or ideas. Hell, let yourself digest your work or your ideas. Keep putting your stuff out there but also listen and wait. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Image Credit: http://udleditions.cast.org/GLOSSARY,how_coyote_stole_fire,ignore.html#I

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