My last post dove into the complexity of understanding and that with true understanding comes true wisdom. And speaking of personal experience, realizing the importance of the messages we send to others with our words, actions and behaviors. I want to take some time to explore the other side of the subject; when our message is misunderstood.
I’ve written before about the trouble I have with not accepting the perceptions of others and the pain that comes from holding tight to the opinions of those individuals and how they can negatively effect the very narrative that speaks in our cognitive thoughts around our self confidence and sense of self worth. In my story, the consequences and damage of constantly accepting that I am not good enough has led to some extremely difficult situations and has had detrimental effects on my mental health. I am aware daily of my struggle with anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and panic; all the while trying to maintain a persona at work that I’ve got it all together. Even those that may know a little of my story, receive a vague “I’m fine, all is good”, when inside there is a hopelessness and void that feasts on my mind and heart. The end of each day is exhausting, a physical collapse, yet with a negative mental voice that has just consumed an undesirable amount of Red Bull and is ready to run all night!
In recent weeks, I have been trying to focus my thoughts on the how we understand others, or what we perceive others are saying and what their actions show us, when words and actions don’t seem to line up. I am speaking from personal experience, as I have been on both ends of this question. I have made choices in my business and personal life that sent the very people I love the wrong message. That although my reasoning and intentions were pure and selfless in thought, the very decision to either disagree or pursue ventures that may or may not have been very lucrative and wise displayed the opposite of my intention. This happens in life all the time; with friendships, coworkers, family, or even your local barista… obviously when it happens with those we deeply care about, the need to feel understood and be accepted as truth becomes an even deeper scalding pot of searing angry, raw and heavy emotion…much like that fresh sizzling cast iron plate of fajita innards from most Mexican-esque restaurants.
I recently came across a quote from one of my favorite authors and podcasters, Mike Foster (Instagram @Mikefoster2000) who said that it is important to accept that you will not always be understood. There needs to be a willingness to be misunderstood. As an Enneagram Nine (take the test….it’s pretty eye opening), my title is that of a peace maker. Abandoning self to keep peace, retreating into my own mind constantly at war with how to keep said peace and how to be understood for my choices, not defending, but succumbing to negative or conflict driven speech. Clearly one can see just how tortuous, maddening and self destructive it can be to be in relational conflict and feel completely misunderstood!
And as per most of my posts…I don’t know how to solve this. This for years has been a silent struggle. One of which I never realized until the past few months of searching for the answer to the literal burn inside that consumed every waking thought. Not only is this a mental and emotional nightmare, it also takes a very physical form. For me, the recent experience of high blood pressure, insomnia, crippling headaches, nausea and back pain have begun to also affect my every day. It’s a cycle that perpetually continues to bury deeper into an insurmountable depth and I can’t find breath. To be honest, if it were not for my children, I know I would not still be here today. The thought of taking my own life a year ago seemed to be a much more peaceful option than the continuation of being misunderstood, and the overwhelming depression, anxiety and pain that it caused.
I’m realizing that I will not be understood. The world is full of many opinions and many stories that effect the ways in which each individual responds to any given situation. Past experiences, personality types, and everyone’s story plays a role in how we communicate and how we understand the intention and reasoning of others. Therefor when we are placed in a situation where we are forced to be misunderstood, remember that there is a story behind the confrontation. The willingness to be misunderstood is difficult, but I believe can be powerful when we are able to come to a place of contentment within our disagreements. To walk away from confrontation with the strength to be ok… to truly be ok. I am a very long way off, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but as most things, I’m learning, growing and trying.
Thanks for reading…