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Why We Feel Not Understood

Val is a life-long student of unexplored human potential and many challenges that self-honesty throws at us on that path.


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 this strange truth about a predominant feeling of "not being understood". 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, by adding to it a dash of that emotional spice.

Or, as they talk on their cell phone, they make themselves look ridiculous by gesticulating, as if the other person will pick up their point much easier. And then, we also resort to arguments, because the other side is not "getting it".

Well, we obviously have a communication problem, since it seems so complicated to get it -- even after we have exhausted all alternatives of saying the same thing different ways, with tears often included.

So we also write poetry in hope that others will catch the sentiment which prose seems to be devoid of. And these screaming modern pieces of music try so hard with that loud crescendo to make the lyrics more impressive.

The list could go on and on, with more examples where we are displaying this apparent inability to either express our thoughts so that they are understood, or to understand others' attempts to make theirs more clear to us.

And then, at times it could just be a prelude to a deep and nagging feeling of emotional separation and a verdict of loneliness.


If We Only 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 in triple-generation environments, while in many a slammed door demonstratively signified a lack of feeling understood.

We could see on so many faces that frustrated emotionality hanging in there like some classified information and unable to be expressed in ways that would be understood.

At times it seems so hard to find those right, magic words that would bring some sincerity into those apparently empathetic nodding of a friend, a parent, or a coworker.

Next to be mentioned are couples who both go through those labor pains to find that secret language which works so well in those paperback love novels. Instead, we often witness them playing something like a "marital diplomacy", while not really understanding what the hell the other one is talking about. And why.

In so many cases it's like we are so saturated with our own crapload of emotional garbage that we cannot accommodate anybody else's variety of it to be added to that pile. So we collectively made up some strategies of interacting that included those plastic smiles, and those robotic hugs with measured patting on the back, all as a gesture of "empathy". Good for us.


Is Emotional Transparency Even Possible?

Then it turns into something hilarious with a garden variety of shrinks stepping on the stage, with that all-knowing air of importance of a paid surrogate for an understanding parent or spouse, who never bothered to listen, let alone understand.

Now, let's get closer to the meat of the issue, shall we?.

Wouldn't you agree that this lack of understanding is actually something pretty normal, simply because 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 and our own emotional needs?

Why not consider it as a possibility first, before some self-honesty manages to kick in with some evidence.

Look, maybe it's our collective consciousness that somehow suggested that we have to be always "on the same page", just because we all otherwise experience green as green, and painful as painful.

And then, that same collective consciousness might be behind our alienation from our true selves, as we are imitating others in the herd in order to be recognizable and accepted. Thus, since everyone is habitually sending fake signals to others, they may not detect any transparency in that to the point of seeing what's really behind all that act.

Hey, we even invented something like a "common sense", which makes the originality of our unique feelings not recognizable.

For, let us be clear about one thing here.

Everyone is experiencing life with their own intimate parameters, no matter how we have done some cataloging there.

For example, what the concept of "church" means to me is different from yours. Like, in my mind are those churches that I have seen in my life, along with my intimate experiencing of everything that church is all about -- which doesn't match yours.

The question popping up may come as a surprise to some of you, or most of you, but -- are others really obligated to read our minds; or, shouldn't we meet somewhere half way to create a constructive chemistry of a mutuality that would satisfy the definition of our relationship?


Lack of Understanding on the Large Scale

This problem of poor understanding others and not being understood, can easily be recognized in international relations as well.

Namely, we humans seem to have some idiotically enormous problem of bridging our social, racial, political, religious, and ethnic differences, which unnecessarily complicates our coexistence on this planet.

It's an undeniable truism that we like judging everyone using us as a valid parameter of normalcy. We like everyone to be like ourselves, because somehow in our survival hardware inherited from animal mentality, all those differences somehow make us nervous.

So, when, for example, we see all those folks in the Middle East with their very different ways of life, we want them to be like us -- while completely missing one crucial fact there:

Those pissed radical groups in Middle East, unsatisfied with their status quo, are not any different from those pissed groups in our own society -- while the great majority of them don't really want to change their ways of life.

So, because of those loud unsatisfied ones we deceive ourselves that the society should be "liberated from oppression" -- whereas, all-in-all, they like their "being oppressed".

On the other hand, should someone come to our country to "liberate us", just because half of the population can't stand the sight of our leader?

You see what I mean?

The American presence in the Middle East is making everyone nervous over there, because once that all the political dust settles down, they will continue their ways of life which to them is as "normal" as ours is to us -- nobody there missing McDonalds, strip clubs, bars, and rap.

They don't want to be "understood" about their issues, but accepted for who they are. And being as they are, they may even overturn one leader to install another one, whom they will be bitching about just the same.

Doesn't that remind us of someone else?

Trying to understand may backfire, simply because what we think would be a solution, doesn't turn to be a solution for others. Advising a friend to "leave that insensitive, self-centered, abusing husband" may cost you a friendship, if she heeds your advice and then hates herself for doing it, because, in her eyes, what she had before was better than loneliness.

And so it is on the big scale of events, where our "global policing" is generally taken as merely "sticking our nose in other nations' affairs".

Indeed, "understanding" may turn out worse than just a diplomatic acknowledgment with a nodding symbolizing something like understanding.


It Doesn't Take a Shrink to Befriend Ourselves

How many times have you been in a situation where you had to say: "Am I talking 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 unique way.

As it was mentioned earlier, we are not making a decent effort to understand our own intimate world, our own need for self-love, self-acceptance, so, while starved in that department, we expect from others to do for us what we are failing to do for ourselves.

For an example, a dude angry at the authority figure of a leader, may secretly be angry at his father, another authority figure who, back there, was not understanding his emotional needs.

And we may find something "wrong" about this new boss, or a friend, not realizing how their bushy mustache looks exactly like the one of our third grade teacher's, who back then made fun of us in the classroom, also making our little sweetheart join everyone's laughing.

Indeed, maybe we should start developing a warm relationship with ourselves, by understanding where our emotions are coming from, and then change what is not emotionally serving us at this stage of our life.

Who knows how much that might also help us to invest that better-of-us into our relationships, once that we stop expecting others to do for us what we have to do for ourselves.

Ultimately, once we see ourselves as lovable, others will join us in that assessment, and we won't need so much of their "understanding" any longer.

© 2021 Val Karas

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