The silent treatment is a passive-aggressive action that we resort to for a number of reasons: to attempt to control a situation, as a form of punishment, to test boundaries and to avoid confrontation.
But I think that sometimes we forget just how powerful silence can be, not to mention painful. A lot of the time saying nothing can hurt much more than speaking volumes.
When you’re on the receiving end of the silent treatment you can’t help but to over-think EVERYTHING. Often the biggest question that you ponder is how/when you became so insignificant that you weren’t even worth a simple explanation. It can really mess with your head and knocks your self-esteem and ego, big time!
Plus in my experience it doesn’t actually solve any problems; the silent treatment just makes any situation ten times worse. So much goes unsaid with feelings of resentment building up higher and higher the longer that it goes on. And the longer that you can keep it going, the bigger (for lack of a better word) douche-bag you show yourself to be!
But we’re all guilty of resorting to it at one time or another.
Sometimes when we’re caught up in our feelings we become one-track minded, convincing ourselves that the silent treatment is the only course of action available to us. Other times we’ll even tell ourselves that we’re doing it in the best interests of the other person, we’re freezing them out for their own good. But believe me when I tell you that that’s never the case. We’re doing it for ourselves. The silent treatment is a cop-out. It’s an easy escape route, because it allows us to sweep the given issue under the carpet, while the other guy is left standing in the dark pining for us. Pretty narcissistic isn’t it? Not to mention immature.
All in all, it’s a cowardly way of dealing with a situation in which both parties are ultimately left feeling uneasy.
But like I said, we’re all guilty of resorting to it. On the few instances that I’ve been the initiator of the silent treatment, I’ve not enjoyed it one bit. As hurt as I may be for whatever reason, as the days go on I start to hear my eldest sister’s shrill voice in the back of my head, telling me to grow up and just talk it out (jheez, why does she always have to be right about everything?!). The truth is that nobody deserves to be dropped without so much as an explanation as to why, it’s harsh and unjust.
And if you’re anything like me and your conscience gets a kick out of working overtime, giving somebody the cold shoulder without providing a specific reason will eventually make you feel like ‘the bad guy’ (even if initially you were completely blameless); it’ll fill you with nothing but guilt my friend and it’ll slowly but surely eat away at you. I guess it kind of ties in with that famous Buddha quote, something along the lines of- holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
I do have to clarify one thing though: dishing out the silent treatment and taking a temporary step back from a situation, are two very different things in my book. The former being a self-involved act, in which much of the time people have no intention of ever returning and resolving the issue at hand. And the latter being useful to gain perspective and think rationally as opposed to emotionally; a break to clear your head before coming back and fixing things properly.
If in doubt always remember that people are not mind-readers. Even if they’ve been massively disrespectful to you try to be the bigger person and communicate. Just be honest, it may be excruciatingly hard at times but it always pays off in the long run and most importantly your conscience will be clear. So do it for your own peace of mind. And once you’ve crossed that hurdle, by all means cut them out of your life forever if that’s what you feel is best, or start taking steps to resolve the situation. Either way, be classy about it and drop them a line before you make any major decisions.
Basically the moral of this story is: forget the silent treatment, just rule it out completely, because it’s really not worth the aggravation buddy, trust me!