You Will Be Misunderstood
You Will Be Misunderstood.
Just like any of us, throughout my life, there have been times when I have been misunderstood---when my chosen words, tone, intention or the way I process information gets perceived differently than I intend.**
And it's hard. Every. Single. Time.
Sometimes, the misunderstanding is rooted in something more inherent to me, like cultural differences or neurodivergence, even though I'm not always conscious of these factors, in the moment. Other times, the misunderstanding is due to varying communication styles, assumptions, projections and the like. Sometimes both. (Because, yes, even though I was born and bred in MN, I am still more direct than most Midwesterners, thanks to those Mediterranean roots.)
Even as a professional mediator and conflict coach, which is an aspect of my work, I am not immune to these misunderstandings. And that is why I am sharing this.
As a human being, whenever we choose to express ourselves---and especially about complex subjects or emotional content---we take the risk of being heard, understood and acknowledged OR misunderstood, and the emotional or logistical fallout that can accompany the latter.
So, what does that mean? Do we stop expressing ourselves? I hope not.
When we feel emotionally threatened, just like physical threats, we can default to a pre-conditioned trauma response.
In these moments, when you want to fight, run, shut down, acquiesce or collapse, I highly suggest that you pause and gather yourself quietly, for a moment, if at all possible.
Breathe. Then breathe again.
Chances are the misunderstanding is not personal, and is not an attack on you, even if it feels that way. Ideally, step away from the situation to gather some perspective---either from internal processing or from a friend, coach, therapist---and then, if and when appropriate, return to the conversation. Or just release the misunderstanding, but allow your conscious processing to inform your future interactions in a supportive manner.
Oftentimes, we just have the trauma response and reinforce the harmful conditioning. So, when we can move from the trauma response into a supportive space, we begin to undo that conditioning.
It's not easy. It takes time. And it will continue to feel hard, regardless. But the effort is worth it, as you will eventually begin to feel more acceptance for yourself and others in these often difficult interactions.
Will you miraculously be understood 100% of the time after that? Nope. And that's ok.
(**Please note that being misunderstood can still lead to harmful impact, even if that was not your intent. So it is still important to own that impact and move towards repair, in many situations.)