When you want to scream “listen to me!!!” at everyone in your life, it takes a toll! Feeling unheard can intensify all kinds of mental health symptoms. So before you worry that something’s wrong with you, first consider whether you just need someone to listen.
Feeling connected is not just something we want. As humans, it’s a real need. So of course we feel bad when it seems nobody is there for us. Feeling unheard can create emotions like depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and self hatred.
Anxiety and depression may be related to feeling unheard or misunderstood. On the other side of the coin, anxiety and depression ease up when someone else listens and understands.
If you’re wondering “Why won’t anyone listen to me?” you’re not alone in feeling this way. Who hasn’t wanted to shake the people around them and yell: “Listen to me!!!!”?
It’s extremely common to feel like you need someone to listen, or to feel like the people around you just aren’t hearing you. The Reddit community r/offmychest has over 2.9 million members (however, Reddit isn’t always the best place to seek support online).
People even write poetry about the loneliness of wanting someone to listen.
Below is a poem by renowned psychologist, Leo Buscaglia. It captures the feeling well:
By: Leo Buscaglia
When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
You have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.
Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me…
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and
But when you accept as a simple fact
That I feel what I feel,
No matter how irrational,
Then I can stop trying to convince
You and get about this business
Of understanding what’s behind
This irrational feeling.
And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when
we understand what’s behind them.
So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn– and I will listen to you.
See if anything else on this list speaks to you. These may be signs that you’re not broken or “mentally ill”–you just need someone to listen.
As mentioned above, humans are social creatures. We have a need built into our brains, to be around people who see us for who we are and increase our self esteem.
Self esteem can only be nurtured by deep connection with other people. You can’t totally create it for yourself, alone! So what happens when nobody listens to you and you don’t feel really seen or heard? Naturally, your self esteem decreases, and you may feel worthless.
Parents and friends are supposed to care about what you say, and show you that you’re worth listening to. But in today’s world, it can feel like a dice roll whether you actually have parents or friends who listen.
It’s almost impossible to build up your self esteem without a support network. Try to connect with others who may to listen to you, even if it’s online, and see if it helps your self-worth grow back.
If you’re stuck feeling depressed and nothing is helping at all, it could be that you need someone to listen to you. Not casually listen, but really listen!
Many of us stay slightly guarded, even with friends, and many others feel their friends listen, but don’t really get it. A lot of us feel unheard or misjudged even by our freaking therapists!
Whatever variation of this you may have going on, it’s a recipe for depression symptoms coming from a lack of genuine connection.
We feel helpless when we see “evidence” that what we do and say doesn’t matter. Feeling unheard can feel like evidence of your helplessness.
Not being listened to makes us believe we’re helpless to make any impact on our lives or the lives of those around us. So if nobody in your life takes what you say seriously, you’re much more likely to feel powerless and frozen.
Try talking to people who have been there, and who really want to hear what you’re saying. It could be an acquaintance who’s a good listener, or it could be people in an online peer support chat here at Supportiv.
Before you totally dismiss this one, keep an open mind! Well-known psychologists have written about feelings of hunger coming from a social need.
According to Pete Walker MA, MFT: “Feeling very hungry an hour or two after a big meal is an almost certain signal of abandonment feelings and not real hunger. As much as this hunger appears to be about food, it is actually an emotional hunger – an emotional longing for safe, nurturing connection and for the satiation of abandonment.”
Because we’re social creatures, we need to feel seen and understood to be healthy. So our bodies need a way to alert us: “Hey, go get someone to listen to you!”
Just like how your stomach growls, you feel this social hunger in a similar spot near your stomach – a little lower in your abdomen, if you’re paying close attention. It occurs when you feel like you need someone to listen to you and be there for you, and it’s natural to confuse the feeling with hunger. So if you’re still feeling a hungry sensation in your stomach even after eating, consider finding someone to listen and make you feel accepted.
When your thoughts are racing and won’t stop, think about whether you’ve let them out to a listening ear recently. If you haven’t let out and processed your thoughts with another person in a while, they’re bound to keep bouncing around, like your head’s a pinball machine. That intensifies the need for someone to hear you out.
If you have nobody to release your racing thoughts to, you can first try doing a ‘brain dump’ by freewriting in a journal for 5-10 minutes. In case that doesn’t help your racing thoughts, ask a friend if you can have their full attention for a bit.
And if you need someone to listen right now, there are a lot of understanding people, here.
If you feel like you need someone to listen, please reach out. There are always peers available to chat with, guided by a trained moderator, here at Supportiv.
As Cynthia W. Lubow, MS, MFT puts it, “If everyone who felt depressed was comfortable talking about it to a good listener, we would have far fewer depressed people—possibly even fewer people on antidepressants.”
You deserve to love yourself and to take up space in the world! That means you deserve to be heard, too.