The Cold Shoulder

“THE COLD SHOULDER” is a term that was created back around 1816 and translates still today as a display of coldness or indifference, intended to wound another. It is said that in this era visitors to a house or inn who were welcome were given a hot meal, but those who weren’t and who outstayed their welcome were offered only a COLD SHOULDER of mutton.

Whether we enter a shop, a home, a place of employment or a social circle, we all hope for a warm welcome. THE COLD SHOULDER however, is something most people experience in their lifetime, delivered usually as a silent message of rejection. It can be conveyed with a deliberate look or no eye contact at all, with body language, by leaving us off of an invite list, neglecting to return a phone call, not responding to an email or even just by a shut or locked door that is usually left open for us.

Most of us will admit to giving those we work with, socialise with and even love THE COLD SHOULDER at least once or twice in our past. These situations, unfortunately, are not our most emotionally empowered moments. However, more modern terms name this behaviour as passive aggressive (which is what THE COLD SHOULDER is). It can sometimes be an option we default to if we are in a state of emotional overwhelm. When we don’t have the emotional fuel or just don’t know how to calmly assert ourselves in a particular situation we resort to this behaviour. And … we do use it as a passive aggressive snub of disrespect nonetheless.

Here’s a couple of common behavioural clues to look for within our own relationships to increase our awareness in identifying this behavior. It is often said that we can’t change something we can’t see nor understand.

1. Choosing to remain mute, emotionally shutting down and avoiding eye contact, due to the fear of exploding and becoming an aggressive warrior.

2. The desire to punish ourselves or another in order to regain control and make things fair, choosing an “I’ll show them” attitude. I will deprive myself of happiness, that will really punish them. Hmmm…. as I said, not our most mature moments.

When we give another THE COLD SHOULDER treatment this behavior is simply an extension, I have observed, of what we have first done to ourselves. We have decided to neglect our emotional responsibility, refusing to make an effort to build our self-respect by speaking up for ourselves respectfully, calmly and assertively. We have chosen to sulk or bitch instead.

It’s rarely pleasing to not get our own way, but as any adult knows it is not healthy for a child to always get their way. They never learn coping skills on how to handle rejection if they are always given in to when they have a tantrum. Just because we are adults that principle does not change.

To keep maturing we need to continue learning lessons to build our character, in the hope of one day becoming true Grand Elders and even grand-parents to up-and-coming generations. Sometimes, however, the most loving and respectful thing we can do for another is leave them be.

When the temptation to freeze our shoulder arises, let’s consider some supportive inner dialogue you could comfort ourselves with. These are phrases that we might perhaps offer someone we care about if they were feeling, angry, hurt or rejected. When we internalise warm, loving dialogue we can thaw our COLD SHOULDER behaviors and do a full emotional U-turn, actually bringing others closer rather than creating more distance.

I become the COLD SHOULDER pain in the arse when my inner language towards myself is harsh. When things don’t go my way I always give myself THE COLD SHOULDER first, then it dominos outwardly in my behavior towards others. It is the harsh hope killing phrases I used to use on myself years ago, when I was in full-flight addiction and denial, that do me emotional damage when I resort to using them. Phrases like:

1. They don’t care about me, nobody wants me

2. I can’t trust anyone; people will always let me down

3. I am not good enough

4. I am too much hard work for anyone

5. People that care about me die, leave or give up on me

6. I always get unfairly punished no matter how hard I try to be good

You may have others, but these are my old reliable “go to” COLD SHOULDER phrases that I use to abuse myself and turn myself against myself first … and then become the ice queen to others. However, I had mastered the art of giving myself and others … a very COLD sometimes frozen SHOULDER at times, and was not fully aware of how this can be a very passive aggressive way of delivering emotional cruelty and becoming a silent bully.

So let’s ensure we serve ourselves and those we love more tender, warm meals of love, and leave THE COLD SHOULDER of mutton off our heart’s table all together?

If we want to raise our emotional standard of living we’ve gotta raise our emotional standards of giving. Not only to others, but giving patience and empathy to ourselves first and foremost for we can’t give away what we haven’t got in our hearts to genuinely give.

Lotsa love Cynthia xxx
© Copyright 2017 Cynthia J. Morton Emotional Fitness™

This Word Vitamin is an excerpt from my latest bookset “The Four Seasons of the Heart”. If you would like to order your own full set of Daily Word Vitamins one for each day of the year, in book form for yourself or as a gift for another just click on the shop tab to place your order.  Happy shopping x


Cynthia Morton

Managing Director

Cynthia Morton is a bestselling Author, Blogger, Speaker and Founder of the multi award winning Emotional Fitness Program.