Why We Never Feel Understood: Especially in 2021
Maybe the following perspective helps you…:)
The most important thing to understand about the human condition is that we never feel like we’re truly understood by another person. For some this can have a negative affect, for others it opens the door to self-understanding.
This might seem obvious, but I think if you really unpack this fact and its implications on your average day, it becomes a lot less obvious and a lot more interesting.
Most of us go through life with this deep sense that there are certain things about ourselves that are just inherently unknowable to other people, even the people who are closest to us. We feel like they might be able to understand us better than anyone else in the world, but ultimately there is a gulf between us where no one can cross.
This feeling is most acutely felt when you’re around someone who knows you very well, like a friend or family member. But take it out of the personal realm and look at it more abstractly: Think about what it means to feel misunderstood by culture at large. There’s an ongoing thread in pop music that makes me think this is true for virtually everyone-it seems to be one of the few things that just about everyone can relate to.
Let’s take a song like Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” as an example:
She’s so close, now she’s so far. And I want her just as much / It would be so fine to see her face fill up my screen / And she’d see me and I would smile / The way she used to do.
I come home in the morning light, my mother says when are you coming back / She’s so worried I might not make it home alive / But I tell her not to cry now.
Well, little girl you’re on fire… / Yeah, little girl you’re on fire…
I want to tell her that it’s alright now.
But I can’t speak right now.
It’s a pretty straightforward song about a guy who is pining for his ex-girlfriend so much so that he wants to talk to her through the TV, but feels too paralyzed by his emotions to do so. But what makes it really interesting is the way Springsteen sings it.
It’s not like every other love song, where the singer pledges undying devotion and reaffirms his loyalty through thick and thin; here he sounds exhausted and kinda heartbroken. The vibe of the song is more about resignation than affirmation-it’s basically him admitting that she’s gone, and even though he’d like to feel differently, it’s too late.
This song resonated with a lot of people when it came out in 1984, but one notable aspect about the way it spread is how different everyone’s responses to it were.
Tim Allen covered it on his show Home Improvement in 1993. To this day it’s probably the only Springsteen song you’re likely to hear at a wedding.
It was also covered by A-Ha (that video piece of ’80s cheese is worth checking out). The point is that three decades after it came out, there were still some people who could relate to what Springsteen was saying in it, and felt like he was speaking directly to them.
And yet, no two people seem to have exactly the same interpretation of it.
Of course, you could say this about practically any song; but these days it’s also true about almost all kinds of art-books, movies, TV shows, games-it seems like there are certain things that just can’t be communicated, and no matter how hard you try, people will inevitably interpret them differently.
So Why is it Again we don't Feel Understood?
I think this is why a lot of us have turned to pop culture as a replacement for religion in the past few decades. We still have all these communal touchstones that we pull from to spread ideas, but instead of using them to create a sense of kinship, people have been using them as a way to feel unique. An effective tactic for ensuring that your opinion is different from everyone around you.
That might seem counterintuitive-how does pop culture give us a connection with the world when it seems like it’s doing just the opposite? What I mean is, when you feel like all these books, albums, TV shows are being written about people who are nothing like you, it can be hard to see how they could have anything to do with your life. A lot of us have started to believe that art isn’t for us because we don’t recognize ourselves in it.
Now I’m not saying that no art is for us, or that we’re the only ones who can enjoy it. What I’m saying is that there’s a huge difference between having your perspective reflected and wanting to do nothing but talk about what you see in whatever you consume. And while some of us might be more inclined toward one than the other, everyone has both of these impulses on some level.
But if you’ve ever felt like no one can really relate to what you’re going through, then maybe that isn’t actually the case at all. Maybe it’s just that for whatever reason, people don’t think they can talk about certain things because they think they won’t be heard. Or understood.
Do people in today's world really care to understand another human?
Why is that we never feel understood by the people around us? Why is it that even what we have to say, to think, and how we feel never seem enough for those around us?
We like to think that people are ‘just like us,’ but truthfully, there’s one thing people can never be…
You see, you can relate to people on some level-maybe by shared experiences or maybe they just remind you of someone else when having social interactions.
However, no matter how much they seem like ‘you,’ there’s always going to be something that makes them different than you…
And this will create conflict between human beings-because they can never completely understand you or themselves.
This is why we never feel understood, because deep down…
No matter how much someone likes you, loves you, or cares about you…
There will always be a part of them that doesn’t ‘get’ you.
And there’s also a part of yourself that no one can ever understand.
No one will ever know exactly ‘what you’re thinking,’ ‘how you feel,’ or what your true motives are…
Not even yourself. We like to think that we know ourselves inside and out-but this is never the case.
There’s always going to be something that makes us different than ourselves, and therefore creates a disconnect between us-creating the sensation of feeling misunderstood.
We can never feel truly understood, because…
There will always be a part of you that no one can ever know.
And there’s also a part of everyone else that no one will ever understand.
But you know what? This isn’t such a terrible thing either…
Understanding and being understood is overrated anyway. This only creates expectations, and expectations should be dropped from our consciousness all together.
There’s nothing wrong with not understanding each other, because this shows that we’re all unique individuals .
It means we’re all special and different and that makes the world a very special place.
And as long as we never ‘try to be understood’ or ‘try to understand someone else,’
we can always take solace in the fact that we’re all just trying our best -doing the best we know how, doing what seems right to us.
And that’s what makes us different, special, and interesting-as each other.
So the next time you feel misunderstood or feel like no one understands you…
Remember that there will always be a part of them-and even yourself-that remains ‘a mystery.’
And this is okay , because it means we’re all human.
We never feel understood, and we will never understand each other, and that’s okay…
Because we’re all just doing the best we know how. Remember, understanding comes from awareness. Awareness creates effective communication, and this starts with active listening.
You are here on this planet to understand yourself, and the better you can understand who you are, the more you will understand others and their ability to understand you. If you would like to go deeper into understanding yourself, then let’s work together!!
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