I’m always curious about where I (or others) take action unconsciously. As many of you know I’ve decided to slow down a little because of recent health challenges. Amongst other things this has involved posting on Facebook only when the impulse to do so comes in the moment, and (more importantly) not responding to comments. Although I’ve enjoyed the interactive threads on FB, I realized that responding can distract me from my own inner rhythm and really speed me up. So I am (mostly) practising not responding for the moment.
What’s interesting is to notice when it’s hard not to respond. Sometimes, when someone has shared something difficult about their own life, I want to reach out and let them know their struggle has been heard, and prayers and love are being sent. But I’m doing okay with just taking a moment to send the prayers and love, trusting that is enough.
Interestingly, what’s more challenging, is not responding when I feel I’ve been misunderstood. Recently someone posted a brief quote from one of my books on their page and a conversation ensued. Several comments took issue with what they thought the quote had or had not said- and my fingers itched for the keyboard.
Let me be clear: I didn’t want to respond because someone was disagreeing with me (I’m actually okay with letting disagreements be) but because I felt what I’d written was being misunderstood.
And this got me thinking about attachment to being understood, to having our words or actions comprehended as meaning what we intended them to mean. It’s understandable really, and I’m not arguing against clear communication, (particularly in intimate relationships where misunderstanding can lead to serious difficulties and unnecessary suffering.) The challenge is consciously and wisely discerning where and when and how we expend energy to make sure we are understood.
The meaning taken from something said or done reflects, at least in part, the recipient’s frame of mind and heart. A “misunderstood” meaning may be what’s needed at this moment, and may even be wiser and more insightful than anything intended. (Many folks have told me that something I said or wrote was a catalyst for desired change in their lives- and sometimes, when they tell me what it was, I have absolutely no memory of ever having thought, let alone said or written such a thing. And sometimes it’s not even something with which I am in alignment! But that’s what they heard, and for them it seemed true and useful in that moment- and thank goodness for that.)
Attempting to make sure we are never misunderstood, wanting and trying to be understood everywhere with everyone is impossible and exhausting. Being aware of the impulse to correct what we perceive as being misunderstood gives us a choice, the chance to ask: Is this a place where I need to make sure I am understood as I intended or want to be? Perhaps not surprisingly, there are in fact very few places where the answer to that question is an unequivocal, “Yes!” Sometimes, just letting others have their own responses, reactions and understandings- even if they don't reflect the meaning we intended- is simply wiser.Oriah (c) 2012