The basis of being misunderstood is when our intentions don't line up with our actions. However, usually, we feel misunderstood because our well-intentioned thoughts don't translate to well-meaning actions. I gather there are many scenarios for being misunderstood but the most common would be that you are well-intentioned.
Being misunderstood is an opportunity to examine others and yourself. Let's start with others first. Intellectually we know that everyone will not understand us; everyone won't "get" us. There are myriad personalities in this world and even though personality assessments are done that group common characteristics of various personality types into subgroups, even within those subgroups there are huge variations. I have not met my twin - that person that is exactly like me. I watch House Hunters and one thing that I take away from this show is people like what they like and there's no rhyme or reason to it. That's how humans are with their personalities - it's the way we're wired and every facet of one's personality can't be explained or understood. The way we are wired can create misunderstanding. So it's pointless to try to be understood by all, but it grates when the ones closest to us seem to misunderstand us on a regular basis. I think this is when we have to look at the other person's personality and not confuse their personality with their character. Personality is an expression of who you are; it's your temperament; the way you do things; character is foundational and is based on your intrinsic morals and values. The core of who I am does not change but my expression of it may change. It's nuanced - but it may help in thinking about why misunderstandings occur and how to deal with them.
Being misunderstood also requires that we look at ourselves, especially when we are misunderstood by people we care about. So here are some questions to ask ourselves:
- Are our motives sincere?
- Is my conscience clear?
- Am I trying to hide anything?
It's hard being misunderstood because sometimes it seems as if there is no way to clear it up. It seems like a no-win proposition and the answer seems to be "just don't do the thing that caused the misunderstanding in the first place." That's not realistic. For example, if I have a tendency of laughing before I make a point, you may think I'm laughing at you when the reality is my laughter is a reflex that had nothing to do with you. Now I can work this and explain this to you but it doesn't mean it won't ever happen again. My husband and children may know this but they won't always remember this, but as long as they remember that I meant no harm, the misunderstanding is easily resolved. And if I'm really not laughing at them, but it's purely a reflex then we're good. But this is why it's important to examine yourself to ensure that your intentions were well-meaning.
Ultimately, being misunderstood is a facet of life; some of us handle it better than others. Do what you can and know that you're ok especially after you've examined yourself and carry on. But examine yourself; don't rely on this is the way I am and there's nothing I can do to change it. The essence of you won't change but adjustments can be made - that's life. Being misunderstood recognizes that we will be adjusting until we leave this earth and this is the hard part for all of us. Let's take it one misunderstanding at a time, so that we have the grace to carry on. Don't linger in the misunderstanding, move on.
It has been suggested that when you are misunderstood, you repeat these four sentences:
It’s not about me. It’s not about now. It’s all about God. It’s all about eternity. (Source)
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 1 Peter 5:6 [NLT]
How do you handle being misunderstood?