When Other People Don’t Understand Your Journey
My husband and I recently celebrated our 14th anniversary.
14 years together is a lot to celebrate when we are miles apart in differences. It’s my belief that a healthy amount of differences keeps things fresh and interesting albeit challenging.
For instance… I meditate.
He watches historical accounts of WWII.
I’m passionate about meditation and the key role it’s played in my personal growth and healing journey.
He’s meditated a few times at my insistence. Enjoyed it. Mostly fell asleep.
He doesn’t understand my connection to meditation. That’s because it’s a big part of MY journey, not his.
He may not understand it, but he respects it. He knows that unless there’s a house fire, he doesn’t interrupt my meditation time.
Whether you are on a healing journey, a spiritual journey, a health journey or any other personal journey you are bound to run into people who just don’t understand.
Have you ever felt like others don’t understand what you are going through? They don’t approve or understand your choices and changes?
Sometimes those people are the ones who are closest to you. That can be heartbreaking and frustrating and put distance between you and those you love. In marriages, it can lead to “growing apart”.
How much others understand your journey depends on how much of yourself and your journey you share as well as what you decide to share.
It’s difficult to share personal journeys for many reasons.
- Maybe you’re an introvert like me. Introverts have a rich and extensive inner world. It’s not always natural for them to share it with others or openly talk about it.
- Perhaps you’ve suffered emotional or psychological abuse and sharing was not caring in your childhood or past relationships. When you grow up in a family that uses emotion or personal information against you, it can be instinctive to keep stuff to yourself. Same with abusive relationships with romantic partners. Bottom line: it’s important you feel safe when navigating a personal journey.
- It’s also hard to translate personal feelings and experiences into words and concepts that others will understand. Sometimes we take action or follow a path that our intuition leads us to. It is difficult to translate because it can be spiritual, deeply personal, or intimately intuitive; maybe something we don’t yet understand ourselves.
- You need to distance yourself from certain people to gain clarity. You need your own space without influence or interference. In codependent relationships for instance, it’s difficult to discern where one person begins and the other ends so change in this dynamic is that much harder. Have you ever felt that someone else needs change in order for you to move forward? Or ‘as soon as I help them, I can help myself’. Is someone sabotaging your efforts? You will need the distance.
“How do I get others to understand me when I don’t even understand myself?” There will be moments on your journey that even you won’t understand so it goes without saying others won’t either. In this case you have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. This is the essence of personal growth.
After all, a personal journey doesn’t imply that you have to “get it right” or it has to “make sense”. Journeys are rarely linear or transparent. In those instances it’s best to keep your journey private where the real work and value can be appreciated.
Don’t ask for others to understand. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but instead ask for their patience and respect.
You can volunteer as much of your journey as you like but some people simply do not want to understand you.
Between my husband and I, I share what is pertinent in my ongoing personal healing journey as it pertains to him and our relationship. There are many things I keep to myself as I’m still figuring them out and they would only really mean something to me.
In marriage and relationships, it’s healthy to share so that we don’t grow apart.
Your personal journey always affects and reflects in your relationships. Some people will play an integral part of your journey too.
When not to share your journey:
- When you share does it serve as an explanation? You do not owe anyone an explanation.
- Do you feel you must divulge more than you’d like just so someone else understands…or feels more comfortable?
If counseling is part of your journey, it may set off someone you’re close to. People you’re close to may fear your change. Because of this, people resist the notion of counseling because it represents change, growth, and healthier ways to relate to the world. That means disrupting the norm. This unnerves those around you who practically depend on you to maintain their status quo no matter how unhealthy it is.
If part of your journey breaks old family or relationship patterns, you’ll be met with resistance.
TRY: In your next argument with a loved one note what you’re feeling, the predominant feeling (example: rejection) and then think about the first time you remember feeling that (rejection). Likely you were young but it’s those old wounds that show up in relationships. Old wounds are wonderful to reflect on as an adult because you now have an experienced perspective rather than that of a child or young adult. We continue patterns and beliefs long after we’ve outgrown them. Revisiting and rewriting them is a worthy aspect of your journey.
Themes and patterns are recognizable in most of our close relationships and this can help unravel personal puzzles along your journey. If someone is upset at you for not understanding your actions, the new boundaries you set, or new lifestyle changes you make, then that’s a sign they are more concerned for themselves than you and your progress. What will your changes mean for them? Your growth may remind them of things they need to face.
In one of my own family relationships we typically argue when I’m trying to help and this person won’t accept help until it becomes an emergency requiring extra help.
Noting this pattern between us pointed me toward what would be a meaningful journey where I finally help myself rather than waste energy on helping others who don’t want it. If an emergency arises I enact boundaries.
When there’s a need for other people to understand, the problem may be that you feel a lack of connection and support from others. For everything that we feel deeply, there is a deeper meaning and truth to be uncovered.
In that sense we don’t really need to be understood, we just want to be validated.
When others don’t understand your journey…
- Let go of the need to make others join your journey and replicate what you’re doing. We can learn to respect different journeys. Other people have their own timeline so make sure that the reason they don’t understand your journey isn’t because you insist they follow yours. It’s like coming to a fork in the road. Maybe you go one direction and your loved one goes another. It doesn’t mean you can meet up later down the road.
- You may be craving support and acceptance. You may be surrounded by too many people who do not support you. You can find acceptance within yourself and through support groups or groups of like-minded individuals (plenty of those online). Find a tribe and take time to connect to those who can understand you.
- You’re focusing too much on differences. It’s true we’re not all on the same journey but your perspective can make you feel more isolated when you focus on those who don’t understand you rather than those who do.
- The reality is someone else truly understanding you is rare. The quest to be understood is exhausting. The more you worry about others and whether they understand you, the more of yourself and your journey you lose.
- Realize all journeys and all people intertwine as one. Everyone has different experiences, needs, and expectations, but ultimately we all belong to the same source and most of us even want the same things.
If you are on a personal journey feeling pushed and pulled in too many directions, try this meditation for clarity no matter what journey you are on.
Peace and Be Well