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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