Rabbi Azriel Hauptman
Sometimes, we feel as if no one understands us or what we are going through. Is that a healthy feeling, or is it something that should concern us? Should we resign ourselves to not being understood, or should we try to help people understand us better? This all depends on the nature of the issue. In this article, we will explore some causes for this feeling and their ramifications.
Many of us do not understand ourselves. This might be due to a dysfunctional upbringing where our caretakers did not attend to our needs and therefore we evolved a poor sense of self. Perhaps we have a dark side that we do not want to admit to ourselves. Whatever the cause is, if you do not understand yourself, then those people who truly understand you will be accused of not understanding you! As you avoid getting to know yourself, you will push away those very people who really know you. Therefore, the first order of business on your agenda is to really be sure that you know yourself.
Adjust Your Expectations
Many of us are blessed with large circles of friends and acquaintances. These people see you in shul, Yeshiva, or your place of employment when you are on your best behavior. Only people who live with you can really understand you. If your spouse gets you, then that might be enough. No one else needs to understand you, and anyways they might not see enough of you to understand you. Do not let an elevated expectation of people understanding you get in your way.
Fear of Closeness
Some of us are very afraid of getting close to another person. This can result from different forms of abuse at the hands of a trusted family member or friend that left an emotional scar that makes it hard to trust and be vulnerable with another person. If you constantly keep everyone at arm’s length and do not allow them to be close to you, then they will not understand you.
You Might Be Unique
Sometimes, people do not understand you because you have unique life circumstances that other people cannot relate to. This can be due to mental illness, physical illness, family circumstances, and the list goes on. This does not mean that there is no one out there who can understand you. Rather, you need to find those people who share your experiences. This is one of the wonderful benefits of support groups for people who share similar situations. There, you can find people who can truly relate to what you are going through.
Some people are naturally very deep and live their lives internally. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert if that is your preference. But, it will be very hard for people to get to know you. Albert Einstein famously once said, “Why is it that no one understands me and everybody likes me?” This expression of not being understood emanated from the fact that he was a person of incredible genius that was difficult to really understand. Although he was well-liked and even revered, he still felt that no one understood him.
Is Everyone Wrong?
There are situations where everyone has a certain opinion about you, and only you “know” that they are all wrong. In such a case, you must tread carefully, because they might actually be right. For example, someone believes that he has the musical talent to be the next Mordecai Ben David or Yaakov Shwekey, and no one else seems to share that opinion of him. Yes, there are situations where the whole world is wrong. But, very often they are right, and you are stuck in self-delusion.
In conclusion, there can be a variety of reasons why someone might not feel understood. If this feeling is causing you distress and is interfering with your life, then you might want to explore the option of seeking professional help. Ultimately, human beings are complicated and the only One who can truly understand us is the One who created us.