Recently I saw a quote that said, simply paraphrased, – that if you call someone, text or email them and they don’t reply, self-respect dictates that you ignore them. Do not show desperation by constantly ringing or texting them – they are not air; if they want to talk to you they will reply to your calls/texts/emails etc.
As much as the above is true, I believe there are infinite possibilities why a person might not return your calls/texts – so I disagree with the above action. I also believe that no matter how much care you give out to the world the supply will never deplete. Caring is like love: you can love every single person on this planet and still have lots left to love beings from other planets.
Part of being human is the ability to make quick judgments, especially when in crisis to protect yourself. Almost all our judgements on people and situations are based on learned behaviours: a while ago I saw a black woman standing at the lotions counter of a supermarket, deciding what brand to buy. A black man walked up to her and said “I know this is what you need” pointing at palmer’s cocoa butter. The woman, obviously offended, said “NO” sternly, and picked up a Nivea lotion. I am in no way trivialising prejudice, but this man probably grew up seeing all women folk in his family use cocoa butter, therefore, assumed all black women use cocoa butter. It’s the way we are wired; otherwise, it would take a lifetime to decide whether to take the bus or the tube or walk.
We must have these preconceived ideas about things, situations and people so we can make quick decisions without debating it in our heads for eternity. All around us we are compelled to make decisions that could mean life and death. For example – imagine coming face to face with a half-naked six-foot, heavily tattooed and pierced man sharpening a machete on the tarmac, then he lunges menacingly towards you – what would you do?
Our bodies’ reactions would either fight, runaway, freeze or fawn. The guaranteed majority would run faster than a cheetah while screaming the place down. This is because anyone wielding a machete is potentially homicidal, for others, heavily tattooed giants are up to no good etc. Your story, (preconceived ideas), would dictate how you react. Decidedly no one would wait to engage in any dialogue to decide whether he’s dangerous or not. This ‘scenario’ was implanted in your head (from parents, siblings, movies, books, music videos etc.) at some point in your life.
Similarly, you assume or judge that when so and so doesn’t answer your calls, return your texts, open their door when you knock, they are ignoring you and don’t want you in their life – it’s the most sensible protective reaction. Henceforth, you walk away and sever all contact with them. This is the easiest decision because it protects you especially if it turns out that the person was, in fact, ignoring you. But stop to think if there are bigger things at play, then make a decision.
More importantly, you have no idea what’s going on with that person. Worst case scenario – they could have been kidnapped and can’t access their phone. They could be in jail and have been denied access to their phone. They could be fighting for their lives after an accident. Or much worse, they could have suffered a heart attack alone in their house. The possibilities are endless.
Before you give up on someone, show compassion – I say this because sometimes when we judge or assume too quickly we react, some dish out hurtful words which they regret later, and others start spreading malicious gossip. If you decide to walk away, walk with your head held high, in the knowledge that you have done everything a good friend would do, or what you’d want someone to do if you went mute. Under no circumstances should you send messages telling the ‘gone-silent’ off because you have no idea what’s going on in their life.
If they were indeed trying to cut you off their life without decency then at least you’ll have the upper hand because you left with dignity. If in the future they realise they made a mistake, it would be harder for them to crawl back in your life. And you’d have the perfect excuse to keep them off.
Bearing all that in mind there are exceptions – if the behaviour from a person forms a familiar pattern, i.e. they never answer calls, or return calls and when you finally get hold of them their excuses are fishy. For such people I simply ‘leave it’ and nature takes its course because when that proverbial tether is reached, there’s no going back.
They say everyone is fighting some battle so be kinder than necessary. It won’t take away an ounce of self-respect if you care or show compassion, and you’d rest easy.
However, humans are fatally flawed and are so self-involved or self-indulged (no wonder words like selfie are now official words) that basic humanity is compromised, sixth sense is suppressed, and common sense is anything but common.
Be mindful always.