Being the one who understands

Here’s something I’ve just realised about myself.

I like being the one who understands. I often am, which is good because it’s helpful to people, everyone likes being understood and there’s a lot of people walking around feeling misunderstood so it’s really good to be able to offer them an antidote.

But I can’t always understand. No one can. At least I think no one can. Not absolutely everything. And now and again I hear someone share stuff about themselves and I feel it’s going over my head, I don’t really get it and I feel uncomfortable, and I realise this isn’t just because of what they need from me (being understood) but because of my own need to see myself as the one who does get it, the great superhero who will always always come to your rescue when you’re feeling nobody gets you, the one who will always always be able to say: it’s ok, I understand.

Somehow I have to accept this bit about my humanness – that I will not always be able to play that role. I will not always be able to understand everything about everyone. Maybe I can settle for being the one who understands she doesn’t always understand?

5 thoughts on “Being the one who understands

  1. I just finished watching a neuroscience and personality type video a couple of days ago and I noticed that Fi’s and Ti’s are both good listeners. You’re an Fi, which I’m sure is why it fits that you’re interested in counseling. You’re good at sitting still and listening. (As opposed to people like me who want to keep jumping in every time something pops into my brain, even while another person is talking.)

    But being a good listener and also “getting” what people are saying, that’s a step beyond.

    I think that in areas where we do have skills, that’s where it’s hardest to admit that we also have limits to those skills. It’s one thing if you’re horrible at underwater basket weaving. You don’t expect yourself to be able to do it, so if you fail, big whoop. But if you’re doing something that you generally excel at and you hit a wall, that’s incredibly frustrating (and somewhat unbelievable… at least to ourselves who believe we’re almighty and invincible in that particular area).

    It’s good to know our limitations and accept them. I think that’s what maturity is – seeing yourself as you truly are, taking in both the good and the bad, and accepting that that’s where you’re at. I suppose maturity is also accepting that you don’t have to stay where you’re at, but knowing that if you’re going to budge, it’s going to take work.

    OK, I’ve blathered on enough. Sorry about that. :-}


    • Thank you, I feel understood :)

      Yes, it is a lot harder accepting our limitations in areas we’re generally good at, we come to expect something from ourselves – and also it becomes (or can become) tied to our sense of self-worth, like there’s a deal in my mind that says I can value myself because I’m good at understanding people, but then when I find there’s something about a person that I struggle to understand, then, oops, where’s my value gone… That’s what bothered me about realising this. It’s not healthy. In my head I know that my value doesn’t depend on any of this. I know God values me without any conditions, without me having to prove myself worthy. A real friend would value me with my weaknesses and not expect me to be superwoman. I need to work at being a real friend to myself.


    • P.S. Interesting, you mentioned counselling and actually one of the really basic things we were taught in counselling training was not to assume we’ve understood: as a counsellor you’re supposed to reflect back to the client what you think they’ve said, but in a tentative way, checking with them to see if you’ve got it or not, giving them the chance to correct you and say no, it’s not exactly like that, it’s like this… So the basic assumption is: even if you’re a good listener, you’re never going to get it 100% right.


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