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Don’t Expect to be Totally Understood
By Dr. Monte Wilson

All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.


I think one of the more important insights for many people is that they are and always will be alone in this world. No one is ever going to know you in a comprehensive manner, no one is every going to fully see you, and no one will ever totally get you. Well…God does, of course, but I am speaking of the limitations of our fellow humans.

You are not always going to understand what your spouse is doing, thinking, or feeling: he or she is not always going to understand you. Sometimes that is what Martha Stewart would call "a good thing."

Your best friend probably sees more of you, understands you better than anyone else; yet even he or she sometimes finds your actions, ideas or emotions mysterious or bewildering.  Let it go, shrug your shoulders and move on.

Let’s face it: even you often don’t understand your own actions, ideas or emotions. Laugh at yourself.

(For those among us who arrogantly assume they totally and comprehensively “know” their spouses, friends, and co-workers…you don’t: get over yourself. You aren’t God and your presumptuousness is keeping you from actually increasing the depth of your relationships.)

People who have as yet to figure this out are driven to seek connections with others that are humanly impossible. Sadly, because they are looking for something that is impossible for anyone but God, they are—sooner or later—disappointed in what they perceive as a lack of depth or meaningfulness in the relationship. Even more sadly, they often push people away with their insatiable desire for more, more, more, depriving themselves of what is actually possible in the relationship.

Imagine planting flower seeds in your yard and then, every day, digging up the seeds to see if they are growing roots yet. This is what people who have not yet accepted their aloneness in the universe often do in their relationships: They over analyze, constantly checking to see if there is any growth. I am not suggesting that seasonal checks are not good or healthy, but the constant stress on the relationship brought on by over-analyzing will actually kill the relationship, just as it will kill the flower plants when we constantly dig them up to check the roots.

There are many behavioral and attitudinal problems that flow from not embracing our aloneness:

Having to always be understood by the people you love, you only engage in behaviors that are familiar and understandable by others, refusing to do what pleases you, what you find enjoyable, regardless of what others may think. I am not suggesting you become rude or insensitive—although it might help you break out of this pattern of behavior!—only that you begin considering your own needs and desires as worthy of your attention.

Seeking to always be psychologically visible to the people you love, you constantly air your thoughts and feelings on everything and everyone in the world, boring your friends and family to death. 

Wanting to know those whom you love in a comprehensive manner (rather than as much as humanly possible--or as much as the other person will allow), you are frequently shocked when rebuffed, ignored or confronted for being overly familiar.  And God forbid if someone holds fast to their personal boundaries or need for privacy!

Individuals who suffer this psychological malady find it difficult to ever “sit in a quiet room alone.” If they are introverted, their sense of loneliness overwhelms them, driving them away from solitude. If they are extroverted, being alone is unacceptable, as they must be actively engaged with others so as to find that one connection which will magically change everything. 

Meaningful, close, intimate relationships are wonderful. My own belief is that they are necessary to a full and happy life. Why? Because we have been created as social beings that need loving interaction with other human beings. (“It is not good for man to be alone…” Gen. 2:18.) However, to seek for what is humanly impossible in our relationships places us on a path filled with constant and unnecessary heart ache.

No one will ever completely understand you in any comprehensive manner. (See Martha Stewart's comment above.) Get comfortable with this reality…embrace your aloneness…accept human limitations—yours as well as everyone else's—and you will be amazed at the degree of peace and freedom that begins to permeate your life and relationships.