Why Don't People Understand Me?
Most people want to feel understood. It's tempting to think that close friends or partners should be able to read our minds. This just isn't the case, any more than you can read theirs.
Keeping communication clear and open will help. Voice your concerns in a way other people can relate to. Being defensive or aggressive will make the situation worse. Be prepared to explain your points in an easily understood way.
X had a problem she was rather embarrassed about. When she tried talking to a friend, X spoke more and more quietly, until her voice was a mere whisper.
Her friend kept asking her to repeat what she was saying, leaning forwards to catch the words. This made X even more uncomfortable. Her friend said, " Sorry, I can't understand you."
X felt crushed and ended the conversation, leaving without resolving the issue. She didn't realize her friend literally couldn't hear what was being said.
The same thing may happen if you try to speak to someone in a busy place, say at a party.
Timing your approach
If the person you want to speak to is in a rush, overtired, or engrossed in a film, that's not the best time to look for help. For one thing, they will be preoccupied, and for another, it's not fair to expect their full attention. Of course, if your problem is urgent, you may need to go ahead anyway, but bear in mind that you may not get the response you'd hoped for.
It may seem easier to start talking after a couple of alcoholic drinks, but be aware that this may affect your judgement, and that of the other person.
Are you making yourself clear?
If you say, " I'm in a bad mood," others could take it as a warning to keep their head down and not annoy you further. You may mean, " I'm really upset," or perhaps, " I'm worried." Try to be specific.
It can be tempting to act out your feelings. Again, there's a risk that other people will misinterpret you sitting silently in a corner as sulking. This may make them wonder if they've done something wrong. It's better to say, " I need a bit of breathing space, I'm upset about something that happened at work." This takes pressure off them, and if you do later want to talk, they will be more willing to listen.
Talk to the right people
If you have a problem, it's worth seeking out people who can really help. For instance, you may feel that nobody understands a medical condition you're living with. In all honesty, someone who doesn't have the condition will not be able to fully relate. So it's worth looking for a support group.
There are many on-line groups where you can interact with people in the same boat as yourself. You can swap advice, find a sympathetic ear, or offer support to others. It's okay to have a rant, let off some steam, and you can learn a lot from reading people's comments. The basic problem remains, but at least you'll feel more understood.
If you'd rather talk to someone you know, think, who is a good listener? Some people have trouble paying attention. They may lack concentration, or be uncomfortable talking about certain things. If you think to yourself, "Z never understands what I'm trying to say," then Z isn't the best person to approach.
Not everyone will understand you all the time. The best thing you can do in some situations is make sure you understand yourself. That way, you can be clearer about what message you are trying to put across, and the outcome you'd hope for when sharing your feelings.
By taking some responsibility on yourself, you stand a much better chance of being understood.
People are not mind readers
Speak up and be clear
Try to time your approach sensibly
Talk to the right people
Be realistic in your expectations
Remember other people feel the same way
Consider professional help
If you feel constantly misunderstood, it may be worth talking to your doctor. They can check if you have underlying depression. You may be offered referral to a counsellor, who can help you see things in a different light.