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Secret Hurts of Not Being Understood

Updated on November 14, 2019
ValKaras profile image

Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.

If Someone Would Only Understand...
If Someone Would Only Understand...

Nobody Is Getting It

"People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me." ---- Soren Kierkegaard

Despite the fact that our Western culture is known for a free self-expressiveness---unlike in certain theocratic societies---a closer empathetic look may reveal the strange truth about a predominant feelings of not being understood by those folks of our life. Why is that?

For a few little illustrations, here we have folks using profanities as if to make their point get across as convincing as possible. Also, as we talk on our cell phone, we are not even slightly aware how ridiculous we look while gesturing with hands---like the person on the other side of the line will get it better that way. And we resort to wars, because the other side doesn't get it.

Well, we obviously have a communication problem since it seems to be so complicated to get it---or, to be understood. We also write poetry spilling all our sentiment into every verse in a hope someone may discover the depth of our soul. And all those screaming songs of the modern musical self-expression very much sound like a desperate begging for understanding.

The list could go on, involving more of those more subtle ways of people's doubting about their being understood. It could just be a prelude to a deep and nagging feeling of separation and a verdict of loneliness.

Those Blessed "Small Talks" That Don't Insist on Understanding
Those Blessed "Small Talks" That Don't Insist on Understanding

If We Only Knew Those Magic Words

"The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one's own." ---- Willa Cather

Not necessarily the most typical to be mentioned first---the so called generation gap is just as prevalent feature within families these days as it used to be in those more conservative times. Nobody seems to understand anybody there, and behind many a slammed door is this lack of feeling understood.

We could see on so many faces how they are cooking in their own oil of a frustrated emotionality hanging in there like some classified information. No one seems to find those magic words that would affect some sincerity in that apparently empathetic nodding of a friend, or a parent, or a close coworker.

Next to be mentioned are couples who both seem to go through some labor pains to find that secret language which works so well in those love novels. Instead, I see them so oftentimes playing that marital diplomacy---while not understanding what the hell the other one is talking about. And why.

Doesn't it make you wonder at times why we are so saturated with our own emotional garbage that we can't accommodate a crapload or two from those that we love so much? So we collectively made up all those practical strategies of niceness, including those plastic smiles, robot-like hugs with measured patting on the back. Good for us.

How About a Good Clear Selfie?
How About a Good Clear Selfie?

How About Understanding Ourselves Instead?

"Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens." ---- Louise L. Hay

Then, of course, it turns into something hilarious with all kinds of shrinks stepping onto the stage, with that all-knowing air of importance of a paid surrogate for a mom or dad who never bothered to listen, let alone understand. Who are they kidding by offering a shoulder to cry on? Well, the statistics of their rate of success could inspire you to rather buy a punching bag the next time you feel not understood.

Now, let's get to the meat of the issue, how about it? Wouldn't you agree with me that this "lack of understanding" is actually something of a normal outcome of our enormous individual differences? And somewhere near the bottom line of it---isn't all that secret outcry a symptom of our rather mediocre effort to understand ourselves? Why not consider it as a possibility at least, before some self-honesty kicks in with some evidence?

Maybe this collective consciousness generated naturally by this shoulder-to-shoulder human density created an illusion of everyone having to be on the same emotional page. Are others really obligated to read our minds---or it would be just fine if we met somewhere half-way to create a constructive chemistry of mutuality that would satisfy the definition of our relationship?

Here I go asking a lot of questions like some zen master hoping that readers may see the answers hiding within those koan-puzzles.

Why Change Others if They May Feel Rich with What They Have?
Why Change Others if They May Feel Rich with What They Have?

What if They Don't Want to Be Like Us?

"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better." ---- Abraham Lincoln

Maybe the best way to approach this issue of the widespread lack of understanding would be to remind ourselves about the enormous existing lack of respect for individual, social, political, ethnical, racial, and religious differences. That alone could be the most likely among the stumbling blocks in human coexistence.

It's an undeniable fact that we like judging everyone using ourselves as a parameter of normalcy. We like everyone to be like ourselves, because somewhere in our survival software all those differences are interpreted as threats to our security. Then it pisses us big time when others don't comply.

Let me make a confession, so don't bother crucifying me for it, show some mercy, O.K.? Namely, there are times when I think how those folks in the Middle East actually like their status quo. Really, I mean it. When I think of all those liberated voices crying for our intervention---I compare them to all those pissed off voices in our Western, free establishment.

So, should someone come over with their military to save them? In my life experience I often got hit by the strange fact that people don't want to change---they are merely being regular, pissed off species who have to bitch about something. If you try to understand them and help them in their change, you turn out a bad guy. They won't admit that they didn't mean it, they will accuse you of sticking your nose where it's not its place.

Are you beginning to see how understanding may backfire? For, then you end up gaining some enemies as a reward for your goodwill---and now you are the one who could use some of that noble understanding.

Damn it---maybe it's better not to understand anybody, but try to better understand ourselves instead.

Finding Peace Within Removes a Need to Be "Understood"
Finding Peace Within Removes a Need to Be "Understood"

It Doesn't Take a Shrink to Befriend Ourselves

"Talk to yourself like a cherished friend. Treat yourself with love and care. You are perfect just as you are." ---- Amy Leigh Mercree

How many times did you get in a situation when you had to say: "Am I speaking Chinese here?" It's an old adage that words sound different in mouth and in ears. We naturally process others' appearance, behavior, and words in our own unique way.

That's why we invented agreements and common sense---as if that should help in understanding why your teenage son suddenly wants a tattoo of a large bat on his back.

As I mentioned earlier, we are not making a decent effort to understand our own intimate world, our own needs for self-love, self-acceptance, and self-respect. Then, being emotionally starved in that department, we are dumping the responsibility for all that right on the lap of those close to us---sometimes on our leaders as well. Suddenly, nobody understands our needs.

An angry dude won't bother digging into his emotional files to understand what's pissing him off so much about authorities. If he did, he might discover that he hasn't been the best father to his son, and now he is projecting his unconscious guilt onto anybody of some authority, because, of course, that guilt looks much better on them.

It doesn't really take a degree in psychology to understand our inner hurts. As a matter of fact, we are the ones most called upon to make some sense out of our emotional mess, because we know ourselves best. It takes some honesty, that's all.

I see a relationship as a mutual effort to bridge individual differences---not to deny them, ignore them, or not allow them by imposing our own ways. There is a whole world of difference between our individual intimate realities; a world of different contents, forms, and intensities in apparently similar emotional repertoire.

Even those closest to us are a sort of an enigma---and we should never mistake bridging those differences for something like understanding. Think for a moment how many books have been written about happiness, tolerance, harmony, love, peace, and blah...blah...blah...blah---and the mankind is still stuck at the first blah. We simply don't seem to get it. Why? Because, according to those books we would have to do a lot of something strange to us---allowing.

Allowing the Differences We Feel Understood
Allowing the Differences We Feel Understood

Understanding Equals Allowing

"Accept all the good and bad about someone. It's a great thing to aspire to. The hard part is actually doing it." ---- Sarah Dessen

Indeed, folks, maybe it's time to junk the illusion of understanding each other, and start doing something about finding out who we are, in which ways we are different, and how to allow all those differences in this world to be.

The sooner we understand that others have a right to be who they are, the sooner we will be giving ourselves the same freedom. In some old book I read about the so called identity trap, meaning our trying to live up to someone else's standards, or expecting them to live up to our own.

At the end of the day, understanding others means allowing them to be who they are. We can't play mind-readers to tune into their intimate technology of experiencing. The very way we see ourselves is different from the way they see us. Even though we may have the same default way of experiencing something as green, a sight of a green meadow is not the same in our two sets of eyes.

And when we write a poem in a hope that someone will discover our depths---we are deceiving ourselves, because we have only provided something deep that will make others discover their own depths. Then they may say how they understood you.

No, they didn't---and now it's left to us to get it.


Please, see the video below, it may carry an additional message to further answer some questions of a hurting heart.

Love Not Unswered


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    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      5 weeks ago from Minnesota

      No worries my friend. Hope all is well.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      5 weeks ago from Canada

      Brenda -- I'm happy you liked the message of the article.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      5 weeks ago from Canada

      Linda -- I'm so sorry for missing your comment so long ago -- which I just discovered with regret.

      Now, in the spirit of the article, I don't expect you to "understand" how easily it happens when our minds are wondering elsewhere. I just understand that I have to be more careful about new comments.

      I am certainly glad you liked the message of it.

    • Brenda Arledge profile image


      5 weeks ago from Washington Court House

      Nice one Val.

      I loved the video at the end too.

      Great write.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      5 months ago from Minnesota

      This article really resonated with me with some family drama I am watching. It comes down to what you say here, that we have to not just embrace our differences but embrace our true selves. So many of us are driven by societal & familial norms out of fear of not knowing or understanding who we are. Thanks for making my brain burn, in a good way. Lots to ponder in my self journey.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Dana---Indeed, doing our best to understand ourselves is the biggest gift we can give to our life. Using others as mirrors is like looking in some of those mirrors in amusement parks that give us a distorted image.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      When I developed a taste to understand human nature, I was led on a path of self-discovery. Understanding myself gave me a little insight to others. One of the things my eyes became opened to was how much influence others have over you. I must say that finding myself was the best thing that happened to me and I have truly learned to love myself. When I encounter others who seem to have an identity crisis I feel sad for them because they seem so lost. I have learned that "ones truth" is a road each individual must travel; and you are so correct when you say poets can write poetry and songwriters can write songs but you're only allowing someone to see into the depth of your soul.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Ruby Jean---You gave a great example that everybody should read who is involving themselves in this messy political divide. And it wouldn't even be so bad if it were the only example of people insisting that others think as we do.

      Understanding doesn't seem to be a part of what we are proudly calling "common sense".

      Thank you for nice comment. And hey---take care of those roses my friend.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Bev---You perfectly picked the point of the hub. Thank you for your kind words of praise.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      " It takes some honesty, that's all. Says it all in a nutshell. People are different with their own likes and dislikes. It is up to us to understand that and move on. A good example, my son voted for Trump for president. I thought, " How could he possibly think he should be our president. " I do not mind to tell you that I was horrified until he told me his reasoning, and I understood. We see the world and people differently, and that's now ok. Insightful piece of writing that I enjoyed reading.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      We all feel misunderstood from time to time.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev G 

      2 years ago from Wales, UK

      An enjoyable and thought-provoking read.

      And this was one of the best sentiments ever: "At the end of the day, understanding others means allowing them to be who they are."


    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Lela---I am happy you found the hub interesting. In "my book", morality is a default part of our human version of joint survival of the herd. Wolfs and bees and elephants and water buffalos and monkeys could tell you---if they could---about this instinct of survival---and they certainly didn't get it from reading a holy book.

      You are right if you think that we don't have a "moral obligation" to donate blood. We are all different, and some people may have that altruistic sentiment of a Mother Theresa, while others will settle for helping a blind person across the road, or helping a neighbor with heavy groceries.

      But we don't do it because we are "morally obligated"---there is no "rule" for that kind of behavior. Just like it's not a rule to return a phone call of your friend "as soon as possible"---that's cosmetics---call when you feel that need for her company, that's sincere.

    • Austinstar profile image


      2 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

      Great hub! I was asked this morning by an O Negative blood type man if he had a "moral obligation" to donate blood.

      The question struck me as very strange.

      I don't have an answer for this question. Moral obligations come from within. Does this man just not have an understanding of his own morality?

      I like your line - it doesn't take a psychiatrist to understand ourselves. But then, maybe some people are incapable of understanding themselves?

      Morality comes from within yourself.


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