“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” – Nina Simone
To be misunderstood is one of the worst feelings I have experienced. It can be both frustrating and embarrassing, especially when nothing can be done to mend the situation or when the people you think highly of express their disappointment in you because of something you said or did. I’d like to believe that women find this particularly challenging because our societies are typically grounded in the belief that womanhood should be equated with being caring and cautious about everything said or done. No matter our gender, being human means that we naturally crave understanding and acceptance to feel loved and a part of a larger group.
Being human also means that we are all different and imperfect – a blend of unique personalities, and diverse backgrounds and mindsets – and this makes it easier for us to be misunderstood in our communication with others. This said, it is important for each of us to appreciate that we are a work-in-progress. So, we should work to understand our differences and find appropriate ways to be ourselves and communicate our thoughts and feelings to the people around us with wisdom and empathy.
Recently, I have recognized that while it may be difficult for others around us to genuinely accept us for who we are, we must also pay attention to the messages they send in response to our actions and behavior. This can make us more self-aware and aware of the emotions of others to lessen the possibilities of being misunderstood. Here are three things I’m consciously learning to meet my goal of becoming more emotionally intelligent.
Be honest with yourself
The easiest thing to do in a situation where you have been misunderstood is to feel insecure and become defensive. Again, humans thirst for love and acceptance and being judged negatively leaves us feeling overly emotional and ready to defend our worth – or what’s left of it. Yes, while it is necessary to acknowledge this feeling, the next step to take is to be completely honest with yourself by conducting an assessment of yourself, your words and actions to give meaning to the other person’s reaction to you. By asking the question, “how true is this?”, you can determine who was at fault to enable you to manage the situation with tact rather than engage in senseless confrontations. Sometimes, it becomes tough to address your own insecurities and flaws. If that’s the case, you need a new and fresh perspective. Find a trusted loved one to help you with this. Respect and listen carefully to the advice offered and keep away all forms of judgment or assumptions. When you’re at your worst and feeling awful, let them be a source of love and light for you as they remind you of your value.
Cherish the ones who keep you close
If you are fortunate enough to have trusted family or friends who look out for you, cherish and respect them and be grateful for their support and encouragement. Listen to their perspectives and have them often assess you. Focus less on responding defensively and more on establishing meaningful relationships with them. Let go of your anger and negativity. I’m learning that doing these will give you the opportunity to live a positive and fulfilled life that can inspire others. And that’s what we should aim to do – to live a life that not only brings us joy but also motivates others to be better in everything they do.
Remember you are enough, and more
Never think you’re not enough. A dear friend and brother once told me that I was enough and more, and I tell you that today because it’s the truth. You are enough and more, and you must believe that. Acknowledge your flaws, learn from your mistakes and focus on making your life better each day. You will naturally become happier, and draw closer a wonderful blend of people. Remember that you are in charge of shaping your life, so, if you want to preserve your relationships, create a safe and transparent space for others, and shower them with the unconditional love you hope to receive.
Like an imperfect me, living by these three things won’t be easy. There will be stormy days where you might end up being a little selfish and uncaring. Whenever you have similar days, remember who you are, the sort of life you want to live, and the kinds of relationships you want to have, or give a loved one the responsibility of reminding you. This should help to get you back on track. Wishing you great success with this!