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How to Stop That Secret Hurting for Not Being Understood

Updated on June 21, 2020
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...

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

-- Soren Kierkegaard

Nobody Is Getting It

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.

Art and music are so charged with a plea for others' missing understanding.

Well, we obviously have a communication problem, since it seems 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.

Along with all those screaming songs of the modern musical expression very much reminding of a desperate begging for understanding.

The list could go on, including those more subtle ways of people expressing their doubt about being understood. It could be just a prelude to a deep and nagging feeling of a 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

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

-- Willa Cather

If Only We Knew Those Magic Words

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.

People have become such experts at faking their understanding one another.

Next to be mentioned are those couples who both seem to go through some labor pains of finding that secret language which works so well in those love novels and movies.

Instead, I see them so oftentimes playing that marital diplomacy -- while not understanding what the hell is the other 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 we love so much?

So we collectively made up all those practical strategies of niceness, including those plastic smiles, robot-like hugs with well measured patting on backs.

Good for us.

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

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

-- Louise L. Hay

How About Understanding Ourselves Instead?

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?

Not seeing the proverbial tree for the forest? -- or ourselves for our crowded world?

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.

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

Talk to yourself like a cherished friend. Treat yourself with love and care.You are perfect just as you are.

-- Amy Leigh Mercree

It Doesn't Take a Shrink to Befriend Ourselves

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.

It's not about minimizing differences, but bridging them successfully.

I see a relationship as a mutual sweet 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 the rest of the blah...blah...blah...blah -- and the mankind is still stuck with 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 so strange to our nature -- allowing.

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

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

-- Sarah Dessen

Understanding Equals Allowing

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.

Love Not Unswered

© 2017 Val Karas


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    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      3 months ago from Canada

      Vanita -- Thank you for visiting one of my old articles and giving it a thought. When people (rarely) do that, it means that they find my writing interesting enough to search through my titles and picking one. Have yourself a great day my friend.

    • Vanita Thakkar profile image

      Vanita Thakkar 

      3 months ago

      Nice one. Enjoyed reading.

      Nice video at the end.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      12 months ago from Canada

      Allen -- What I see through my window is a bunch of Canadian winter promises about what to expect soon -- and it pretty much describes what you say.

      But, well, even though each season has its charm, I make my mind do some daydreaming about those hot sands of Waikiki, those hot bikinis, and that flowing language consisting of only 12 letters -- and things instantly look and sound better.

      In the spiritual tradition of Indian wise men, I paint my outer world with colors from the palette of my inner world, because what we see around is only a reflection of ourselves.

      I just finished my morning practice of generating willful blissfulness, and -- well, I can tell you it's a bright and sunny day in Hawaii.

      Make yours the same, my friend.

    • Aliswell profile image

      Allen Edwards 

      12 months ago from Iowa

      You made this -- grey; icey mix; Iowa winter -- morning a little more bearable Val...Thank You as always!

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      12 months ago from Canada

      Devika -- When we don't understand ourselves -- which is the case with most of the people -- how could we send true signals to others from which they would understand us. At our best, we are displaying our "social image" -- the reduced self that we want others to see. The rest of that intimate world we keep inside, even unknown to ourselves.

      That cry for understanding comes from soul which is forced by vulnerable ego to live lies, in a game with others' egos.

      So, by understanding and accepting the nakedness of our intimate reality we appear true to others -- hopefully triggering their soul's empathy instead of their ego's position.

      Thank you, Devika, for reading and commenting my hub, and for seeing it interesting.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      12 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      an understanding means people know what the next person is talking about and allows themselves to see the reality of a situation. An interesting insight you have here on this hub.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      13 months ago from Minnesota

      No worries my friend. Hope all is well.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      13 months ago from Canada

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

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      13 months 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


      13 months ago from Washington Court House

      Nice one Val.

      I loved the video at the end too.

      Great write.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      18 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

      Val Karas 

      3 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 

      3 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

      Val Karas 

      3 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

      Val Karas 

      3 years ago from Canada

      Larry---You are right.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      3 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 

      3 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 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      We all feel misunderstood from time to time.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev G 

      3 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

      Val Karas 

      3 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


      3 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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