Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Who Gets You?

I've been reading some stuff by lifecoach Laura Young. One of her pieces that has caused me some serious pondering is her article "Does Anyone Really Understand You?"

I've just wrapped up the unit on gender in my online sociology class. During the 6th week of the course we get thick and heavy into the discussion of whether or not men can ever truly understand women and visa versa.

But as we move into the seventh week, I bring up the question whether or not ANY human being can fully understand another. I don't doubt we can build deep, rich, authentic connections. I have experienced true empathy from both sides of the fence. Still, something deep within me resonates when I read Young's words:

"The truth is, no one else will ever truly know what it is like to be in your shoes. No matter how much they love you. No matter how much you try to explain or get people to see. There is an internal alchemy that happens within each of us that takes all of our experiences, thoughts, feelings, events and life circumstances and cooks them down into our own unique paths and our own philosophies of life. Belief in a Higher Power aside, where humans are concerned, you are the only one on your path. You are the only one who can go where you are going, ultimately."

Early on in this blog, in a post I called "icebergs and intimacy" I wrote about the challenge of navigating the balance between boundaries of privacy and self disclosure.

I think we all hunger to be known.

In the scriptures it says "it is not good that man should be alone..." (Gen 2:18) I believe that is true. We are hard wired from the moment of creation to be social critters, people who make connections with others. Sometimes those connections lift us to wonder and awe. Sometimes they dash our hearts to bits. Still, for most of us, with all their complications and craziness, relationships with people we love are the most significant parts of our lives.

All that being said.... does anyone REALLY know anyone else?

I don't know the answer to that. But this is what I do know for sure: as much as I want people I care about to understand me deeply and to love me back, what feeds my soul the most is my allowing myself to love them. It's not a tit for tat game where I give only so long as the accounts are kept even. There are people in my life I love with wild abandon. Some of those people love me back and connect with me in meaingful ways. Some are clueless about how deeply I care about them. That's ok. I'm going to go right on loving them anyway - even when they are difficult or oblivious or well intentioned yet missing the mark. I don't love them because I'm some great human being. I don't love them because the "deserve" it. (Do any of us?) I love them because it feeds me to love. When I am in a state of genuinely reaching out my heart to others I find more peace than when I am focused on filling up my own cup.

So I will try to understand my husband/neighbor/co-worker as much as I can.

I will take a few more risk with revealing my true heart with some of my friends.

And then I'll give 'em all some grace if they don't REALLY "get" me. We all are just doing the best we can.


~Deb said...

I don’t think anyone knows anybody 100%. It’s impossible. Only God knows us completely. The worst phrase I have ever heard is, “Oh, well I know how she is,” or “I know how you are.” It makes me wonder if they really want to get to know that person- or myself for that matter. They’re limiting their understanding of others by claiming their knowledge on their entire being.

Even years down the line with your spouse or partner, you will never fully know them. I believe we keep growing.

Are you the same now, as you were five years ago? Ten years ago?
None of us are. Something has changed within us, regardless of ‘what’.

Great thought provoking read!

~Deb said...

P.S. I think that's when relationships and marriages start to fizzle out- when they claim they know everything about you and not willing to learn more fascinating facts about that person. Just my two cents!

Belladonna said...


I'm not sure I'm the same person I was an hour ago...but then, I've been known to take flexibility of mindset to whole new heights.

Lei said...

This was lovely.

I often find myself saying "I know exactly how you feel..." and then immediately feeling insensitive, because I really don't. I may similar experiences that help me see things on your level, but really, I cannot know how you feel. I am always anxious to connect with other people, though, and so the words just spill out.

Interesting thoughts...

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

What a lovely and thought-provoking post. I do think you are right that while we all struggle and yearn to love and be loved, there are places where we simply cannot go inside others or they in us.
There is an old Jackson Browne song called "For a Dancer" (the last verse is posted at the top of my blog) that is about this struggle. He makes two points in the entire song, that "in the end there is one dance you'll do alone," but that this should not keep you from loving, giving and making a joyful sound - because "somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go, may lie a reason for your life that you'll never know."

Torchwolf said...

I would suggest that we can't even know ourselves 100%, never mind another.

In that all knowing is some form of construction.

On the other hand we can certainly experience moments where we feel profoundly and completely known.

It's been said that the opposite of a great truth is also a great truth.

Maybe a less paradoxical way of saying that is we haven't got the language and concepts to even grasp these things with clarity!

Enrich Your Word Power!

Word of the Day
Quote of the Day

This Day in History