What does “understanding” mean to me? What does it mean to understand?
I used to be an avid tumblr user, but luckily I stopped going on there about 2 years ago. It became a toxic place for me. One of the things that stuck with me the most was the disagreement that came with the usage of the word, understand.
You see, people on tumblr said you can never fully understand someone 100%. Therefore, to use the words “I understand you” is simply an insult and a way to belittle and to generalize another’s pain. They want you to be more socially aware and use the phrase “I can relate to you” instead.
For years, I’ve been using the phrase “I can relate” or “I can see where you are coming from”, but I’ve had enough. It’s not that I care less about how people feel. It’s just that I begin to wonder at what point does it become an issue of over-sensitivity? At what point does other people put their emotions and well-being in the hands of other’s? I know I’m not an insensitive person. I try my best not to be, but how much am I really at fault for upsetting someone?
After spending time with my spiritual life coach, I learn that you can’t feel emotions you already don’t feel. I know that not everyone will agree with this, but it makes sense to me. I get frustrated at people, because there’s already frustration inside of me from who knows what. Things upset me because I’m already upset and because I’m just projecting that previous sadness onto somewhere else. If this is the case for me, then is this the case for others too?
Maybe I can’t make someone feel emotions they don’t want to feel or already feel. Maybe we, as humans, don’t have that much control over people than we think we do. Maybe we’re just so used to giving our powers away to people that we believe we have no choice but to respond and to feel in a particular way. Maybe that’s all there is to it. Maybe we need to start taking responsibilities for how we feel instead of pushing that onto others.
Maybe it’s time for us to take control of our lives again.
And with that said, I can’t possibly understand how you feel. I can never understand with 100% certainty that what you feel is what I feel.
Because the truth is, we’re different people. I will never be able to be under the same exact circumstances where the people involved think and behave 100% like the way the people in your situation did. It is simply impossible. We can get close to it and try to understand what it was like to feel those emotions, but we can’t ever fully understand what each other felt.
And maybe we don’t need to.
Maybe pain is just pain. Maybe frustration is just frustration. Maybe all the emotions each and everyone of us feel are universal, and yes this is a trick question, because I know it is. We’re all humans at the very core. We all share similarities and differences; it is what makes us unique but still human at the same time.
Maybe being human is all there is to it. I don’t need to be able to understand 100% what exactly you’ve been through to know that you deserve better. I don’t need to experience it to know that you deserve to be loved and to have people that will cherish and support you. I don’t need to be just as broken or more to know that what you are feeling is real and painful. I just need to try.
I just need to try to understand and be willing to understand just what it is you want me to understand. I don’t need to walk through fire and go through hell. Maybe all I need to do is be a human. Not the stereotypical cruel and selfish human, but a human with the capacity to feel basic emotions.
Maybe we need to just stop putting a wall up and pushing people away on the basis that they might never understand what it was like for us. Maybe we need to just stop creating a divide between each other. Maybe we just need to recognize that at the very core, we are more similar than we think we are, and maybe just maybe that’s enough.
And sometimes I wonder maybe we choose to be ignorant, maybe we choose to push people away, and maybe we choose to not let anyone try to understand because we are scared of what it means for them to try.
Maybe we’re all just scared for someone to hug us, to support us, to care for us, and to love us in the moments we believe we do not deserve anything at all.
And maybe just maybe, it is that fear of understanding that continues to hold us back.