UNDERSTAND….such a simple word and yet for the most part, people tend to not fully appreciate what it means. It is a word that I find is crucial to living a fulfilling life…our ability to “understand” others.
understand [uhn-der-stand] verb. To appreciate, comprehend, accept, be aware of, be conscious of, catch on, discern, figure out, get the hang of, get the idea, get the picture, get the point, have knowledge of, identify with, make sense of, to appreciate sympathetically.
How many times have you said to someone “I understand what you are saying” but really did not understand the depth of the meaning of what they said. I know I am guilty. To understand another person, we have to factor in all sorts of things ranging from knowing their behavior on a normal day to knowing when they are sick and realizing that they are speaking from feeling bad and not from the brain. It takes knowing what kind of day a person has had, to what problems they are dealing with, to what losses they have incurred or what traumatic events they have endured and the list goes on. As a people, most do not want to invest that much energy.
Understanding requires paying attention and doing more than hearing…it means really listening to a person and noticing the emotion behind what they are saying. To give an example, some things are extremely sensitive for each of us. One of mine is feeling like I am a burden. Son does this thing…my head knows he is teasing but my heart gets hurt. I ask him if he would do something for me that I can not do and he will reply “I might”. It was not until we really talked and I was in tears and he saw the hurt that he realized that it was not funny to me. You know that old saying…a joke is only funny if both people think it is. And his words to me were “I am so sorry Mom, now I understand”….but he had to take himself out of the center of the picture and put another person…me …there to understand.
I find that people tend to want others to conform to their way of behavior and never stop to notice if the other person acts they way they do because that is their culture, their religion, their personality, whatever. Sometimes people just have no understanding that we are all different and just because I don’t act like you or you don’t act like me does not make either one of us wrong.
And so I say…..love me and please understand me. Don’t expect me to act like you. Don’t expect me to act like myself when I am so sick I can barely lift my head off the pillow. Don’t expect me to be perfect. Don’t expect me to have the same reaction as everyone else. Don’t expect me to cry over the things you cry over. I might and I might not. Just understand and love me. When I am trying to tell you something from the heart, really hear what I say, not just let the words fly through. Otherwise you might find me telling you things like “I am an alien and I eat people” or other crazy stuff just to see if you are listening. I think if we all just try to understand each other and realize that we all have different ways, there will be less fighting and misunderstandings in the world.
Sons and I are blessed in that we can talk and can communicate and have learned to try to understand that we each have our own way of doing things or our own way of thinking or even or own way of talking. I think the key to understanding is opening your heart and your ears and paying attention and listening not just to the words but to the feelings behind the words. Otherwise, people get upset and “react” and then the misunderstandings happen. So, like the song “try a little tenderness”, I believe in ♫ ♫ try a little understanding. ♫♫
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