Weekly Reading Topic for November 30, 2019: Misunderstood
Well, good morning, love! I just opened a Reading for you, my newsletter subscribers and here’s what I heard in answer to the following:
What do my readers most need to hear this weekend? What is the most important message to send to my beloved readers?
The answer was: “Misunderstood.”
I’m not sure if this reading is for all of us, because it seems very specific, and also very directive … if it has meaning for you, I hope it helps.
What follows is your weekly reading, dear one.
Weekly Reading │Misunderstood
Q: What do we need to know about “Misunderstood?”
A: One of the absolute worst experiences a human can have is to feel misunderstood. The reasons for this are evolutionary and biological, and the depth of the pain is total and tenacious.
Here’s what happens when we feel misunderstood:
Our primate brain starts to worry about being on the outs with the group. Why? Because primates are social animals; we are interdependent with our group (our family, our friends, our community, etc.). If our group doesn’t understand us, we might be at risk for shunning or expulsion, which is the WORST thing that can happen to a social animal.
And this is true with either “positive” or “negative” misunderstandings. If our group sees us as idealized, for example, as a better-than-average person, but we know that we have made mistakes or have troubles that we are just better at hiding than the rest of our group, our primate brain thrums a little with the secret fear “what if they find out I’m just not that talented/special/amazing? Will I still be loved, or accepted, if I disappoint them?”
And if the group thinks we are less than what we are — that we said something absolutely terrible, or made some huge mistake — and we didn’t? That’s painful, too. Negative misunderstandings make us insane with worry. We’re in imminent danger of being driven from the tribe!
This is all happening on a subconscious level, usually. There’s this little part of our brain that is always monitoring our family, friends, and community for understanding and acceptance … just in case trouble comes and we need to pack our bags and find a new place, a new tribe.
And so we fear being misunderstood. And when we are misunderstood, we feel terrible. And when we try to clarify, explain, or illustrate our truth, so our group can see it, we desperately want them to understand, to accept our experience or perspective as valid and legitimate.
Even if it doesn’t quite jibe with their perception, we want them to allow us to have our own.
And that’s totally normal, for a primate. A primate wants to know that when it reaches out its hand, there’s a hand waiting. Primates like hugs. It’s hard to hug someone we don’t understand — or worse, understand wrongly.
So, what’s this about, then? Why is this coming up? Possibly, for some of you, it’s because this past week has offered a marvelous opportunity to reconnect with those feelings of being misunderstood by … family.
And for others, it’s because we’ve recently realized that … whoa … certain people in our lives ALWAYS SEEM TO MISUNDERSTAND US. And that, my friends, is a problem.
Sometimes this is because they simply don’t listen. They are busy with their own thoughts while they listen to us. Our voices are like little birds trilling in the background of a beautiful spring morning. Little lovely noises that mean something, I’m sure, but I don’t have time to consult with an ornithologist and find out what.
If this type of person chronically misunderstands you, it might be possible to get them to focus on you long enough to actually understand. Our best advice is to literally book an appointment with them to get their undivided attention. Then make sure that your little bird voice says exactly what you need it to say, succinctly, with as interesting a hook as possible.
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Sometimes this is because they can’t hear us. They are not only busy with their own thoughts, but also with their own emotions, and they are in some sort of emotional tailspin that puts them in fight or flight. When this type of person is Your Misunderstander, it gets trickier to get them to understand. Depending upon the nature of the trauma that has them in their grip, they might not be able to (or willing to) deal with their own emotions before re-attempting to understand you.
These people often Need Help, and don’t get it … and until they do, you might never have the option of getting their attention long enough to nurture their understanding. In these cases, our best advice is to set boundaries and enforce them. Don’t let their misunderstandings stand. State clearly that they have misunderstood. Also, don’t allow those misunderstandings to dictate the terms of your arrangements. Make sure that you operate your side of these relationships in 100% integrity and good faith. Clean up your own messes, take care of yourself emotionally, and refuse to carry the weight of their emotional issues. In other words, if they feel badly, and it’s not really about you, don’t agree to make it about you.
Writing it all down often helps in these cases. It keeps you clear and accountable. Speak less, write more.
And then there are the last category of Misunderstanderers: the ones who don’t misunderstand, but just pretend to. These are the malignant narcissists who project their own despair onto you and then defend themselves against you.
This is the guy who has a bad day at work and thinks “I’m such a loser” and finds it so unbearable to think/feel that way that he projects HIS loser thoughts onto YOU. You say something like “how was your day, did the meeting go well?” and he responds with something like “why do you care? You don’t trust me to know what to do? Of course you don’t, you loser — you would never be able to do what I do.”
It’s all nonsense, and you know it: but it feels like something you have to respond to, to clear up, to get him to understand you.
But here’s the thing: he doesn’t want to understand. He wants to feel better. And by making YOU feel like a loser, and defend NOT being a loser, he successfully offloads his loser status onto you — because if you weren’t a loser, you wouldn’t be clarifying, responding, or defending. And that makes him feel better. Now YOU’RE the loser, if only because you are arguing with him about something so profoundly weird and nonsensical.
Only a loser would do that!
So. Here’s the thing to know: you will never get this guy to understand you. (Or woman, there are lots of women who fall into this category.) The best you can hope for is to manage this relationship — it will never, ever feel like a safe group.
Your primate brain can handle the stresses of the first Misunderstander, and even the second type of Misunderstanderer. But the third kind? Nope. They refuse to make understanding part of the relationship. Therefore your primate brain will always be in stress-mode, fight-or-flight-or — more likely — -FREEZE. (That’s why people stay for years in these relationships. They’re so stressed out they are frozen by their lower brain, just like deer in the headlights.)
Your primate brain will never feel safe in a group that includes that malignant character. And so eventually, their total manipulation of your need to be understood will cement your status as Misunderstood in a foundational way. And that, friend, is something you cannot negotiate or understand your way out of.
The best thing to do in these cases is simple to say, hard to do: stop defending yourself. Stop engaging. Stop wishing that person felt differently, and stop trying to get them to “see who you are.” They see who you are, and they do not care about you. They care about one thing: their own feelings. As long as they can project their negativity onto you, and you accept it, they will do so.
You will always be misunderstood. Therefore, you will always be unsafe. Therefore, you will never be able to really do the things you want to do.
So … get help. If you’re in this type of relationship, please … it’s not easy, but it is fairly simple and clear cut.
There are (finally) many therapists and books and online resources and tools and youtube channels that are dedicated to helping you disentangle your life from a narcissist. You will need help, AND … it will be worth it.
I am always here to serve in any way I can.
Much Love to You!
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