When Someone Doesn’t “Get” You

It is a terrible feeling to feel misunderstood by someone. I am not referring to being misunderstood on a particular issue but rather the more fundamental kind of misunderstood, when someone does not “get” you.  It is the type of disconnect that startles, makes you catch your breath when you first hear it. “How could they think that?”

Our self image is made up of two parts. One part is our own knowing and the other part is what is reflected back to us by the people we interact with.

When someone doesn’t “get” you, or insists for whatever reason on seeing you in a negative way, over time and exposure it will have a negative effect on your own self image. If the relationship is very close, it is more damaging but even more outlying individuals with enough exposure can harm one’s inner health.

We all understand this in relation to the parent child relationship but it is also true of friendships, colleagues, extended family, and marriages.  And here is the clincher: The damage to your self esteem and self image is done even when you know better. Even when you consider the source.  Knowing something is toxic is not enough to protect you from its harmful effects over time.

In order to be our best and have our best life, we want to protect ourselves from these types of relationships. This does not mean being defensive against criticism, what I am talking about here is far deeper and of a different strain than your run of the mill criticism or disagreement.  Sticking to people who “get” you doesn’t mean they agree with everything you say it just means that they see who you are and they understand where you are coming from in the deepest sense, even when they disagree.

If you find yourself in a disagreement with someone and they attribute a character trait or motivation to you that is radically different than who or what you are at a very fundamental level, take a step back. You are likely in a very unhealthy situation. This type of relationship is damaging to the soul, and while I believe anything can be healed, think very carefully before allowing your seeds to be watered in this way.

 Afterward and Comments: I have attempted to write about something here that is hard to put a finger on and yet I believe most people have experienced it at one time or another. I hope I haven’t missed the mark too much. If you can relate to this or have a story to share I would be honored to hear about it in the comments.

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10 Responses to When Someone Doesn’t “Get” You

  1. Mara Rose says:

    Kathryn,
    You are spot on. Yes, this is hard to describe, but you nailed it. Very well written and well said. I have been through this, and repairing the damage done is very difficult. Much better to avoid it as much as possible.

    • Kathryn says:

      Thanks Mara, I appreciate your kind words and support. I’m curious if you recognized the situation you were in in this regard as damaging at the time? Or was it much later down the road that you saw the effects? For me it was much later because I thought recognizing it as wrong was enough. Warmly ~ Kathryn

  2. Ashley Rupp says:

    Yes! I love that you’re doing this blog first off. But also, this post in particular helps explain why I still feel “off” or rattled after a toxic encounter even though I’m fully conscious of the source. I just had this situation and was unable to explain my feelings, so thank you for doing it for me!

    • Kathryn says:

      Thanks Ashley – I completely relate to what your saying about feeling “off” but not quite knowing how to explain it. It’s sort of like water damage. It can get up under the eves and you might not even notice it at first or be able to put your finger on it but the more you’re exposed to it the more damaging it is.

  3. Lindsey says:

    I agree totally. 100%. What’s hard for me is to have the confidence that those toxic people aren’t right, after all, and to know what I know about who I really am.

    • Kathryn says:

      It’s true and in that ‘crack in the sidewalk’ lies the danger because we are meant to learn something about ourselves from others. From what they reflect back. But when there is something “off” ,something else going on there, that questioning ourselves is where the damage is done. Especially over time.

  4. Mara Rose says:

    Kathryn,

    That’s a very good question. Answers are complex. I had one situation, a place where I boarded my horses, that was over the top toxic. However, my mare has special needs & needed rehab after an injury. I could not find an alternative locally. I finally took her out of state to provide for her without toxicity. But I swore never again. I am now seeing toxicity in our currengt situation, (by that, I mean backbiting, gossip, & scapegoating), & am interviewing alternatives. Fortunately, my mare is healthy & I have options I didn’t have before.

    I totally believe the toxic stuff is subtly damaging–even when we have good support & healthy self esteem.

    I think the point you made is so important because toxicity is common, & many of us either minimize it or blame ourselves. I believe it is critical to recognize it & to withdraw.

  5. Karen says:

    I totally ‘get’ what you are saying. The more unconventional you get (and I am fairly ‘out there’) the more people misunderstand you. I have finally accepted the fact that one person’s concerned environmentalist, traveling, homeschooling, social justice advocate is another person’s left wing, hippie, tree hugging freak.

    I think wise people surround themselves with like minded people, which is why coming across somenone who is very different and doesn’t get you at all can be such a shock.

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  7. Thorsten says:

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