“Let go of your attachment to being right, and suddenly your mind is more open.” – Ralph Marston
As humans, we crave to be understood. It can feel frustrating and upsetting when someone disagrees with or rejects where we’re coming from. Often, it’s not as personal as it feels.
The following tips can help to navigate the experience of feeling misunderstood:
Reflect On Their Belief System – Everyone has their own version of reality. Regardless of how you explain yourself to them, they will still be interpreting the information through their own beliefs and thought patterns. For example, someone growing up in a slow-paced, rural area will likely have a different worldview than someone growing up in NYC. Take a moment to step into the other person’s point of view, including the ways in which they show up in their other relationships as well. This can help you to see the situation more objectively and clearly.
Acknowledge Their Interpretation – To encourage mutual understanding, validate their perspective. The goal is not to try and change their belief system (and good luck with that if you try!) but to communicate respect for the differences between yours and theirs.
Accept and Let Go – After authentically expressing yourself, your job is done. It’s not your responsibility to convince others to see your side. Differences in thoughts, beliefs, and emotional expressions are a part of what it means to be a human existing with other humans. Since their perspective is not something you have control over, nor should you aim to control it, the best thing you can do is let go of the conversation once it’s done.
If you feel that there is someone in your life who is consistently misunderstanding you and/or is unwilling to see your perspective, consider developing boundaries with them. If you feel like they don’t “get” you, there’s no need to force a connection. Save your energy for those who are open to hearing you.