Being misunderstood can be frustrating and disheartening in equal measure.
But when it occurs frequently throughout our lives, it can do real damage, leading to feelings of isolation and self-doubt.
Relationships can also be much trickier to form or quickly become strained.
If the following signs resonate with you, it’s likely you have a long history of feeling misunderstood.
1) Often, you just can’t seem to find the right words
My boyfriend told me the other day that he asked Chat GTP how to break the news to his ex-girlfriend that he was living with someone else.
Ok, I confess it made me laugh. But it highlights an important point:
Navigating conversations isn’t always easy for any of us.
Unfortunately, there’s no clear handbook to follow.
We’re all different, and plenty of us feel like we weren’t simply born with the skills that make communication an effortless walk in the park.
That may mean you don’t usually feel like you know the right thing to say.
You’re either lost for words or perhaps you actively worry you’re saying totally the wrong thing.
Knowing what you think or feel is one thing, but being able to express that to others is quite another.
2) You have a hard time opening up about how you truly feel
Shy or naturally very reserved people often find themselves more prone to being misunderstood.
That’s because they are far less of an open book.
You may also have an introverted personality so that others find it harder to get close to you. Or you can struggle with the vulnerability required to let people in.
Rather than wear your heart on your sleeve, your natural tendency is to keep things to yourself.
When we find it hard to share our emotions, we’re bound to feel less understood.
Even though people get to know you on a superficial level, they aren’t scratching deep enough below the surface to discover the real you underneath.
But the question to ask yourself is, are you letting them?
3) You have a quirky sense of humor
I myself have a dark sense of humor. Let’s just say that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Personally, the more awkward things get or the worse the situation, the more I like to try and lighten the mood.
Of course, that isn’t how everybody always sees it.
But humor is often very unique.
Whilst certain styles have some people laughing out loud, other people don’t get it at all.
Your sense of humor is arguably quirkier than most, and people just don’t seem to understand it.
4) You rarely just instantly click with people
You know those people who you meet and instantly it’s like you’ve been friends for your whole life?
Er, no, not really.
Whilst others seem to hit it off with people straight away, that’s so rarely (if ever) been your experience.
It takes you a long time to warm up to people and vice versa.
Your relationships with others are usually slow burners rather than instant flames.
5) You usually feel like you’re on the outside
Perhaps you don’t mind so much. You’re used to it by now. But feeling this way is often hard.
Constant misunderstandings can lead to a sense of isolation and feeling like you don’t belong in social or professional settings.
It may be down to your particular tastes, interests, hobbies, ideas, or opinions.
But whatever it is, you feel like others have things in common that you don’t share.
6) Your honesty isn’t always appreciated
I empathize with you.
I like to tell it like it is. I think it’s best to be straightforward with people.
I don’t think that this means I’m being impolite or tactless, but others don’t always see it that way.
It can feel like the rest of the world prefers to bullshit each other. So much so that the sincerity of truthfulness is unfairly demonized.
Telling the truth can land you in hot water on many occasions. People don’t always appreciate or understand your motivation for being honest.
Others have a hard time with your communication style.
You may have tried to tone it down, but you can’t help but be who you are. Wearing a mask just isn’t an option for you.
7) You just do you, quirks and all
You’ve never tried to hide the wonderfully weird aspects of your personality.
Kudos to you for that.
We’re forever being told to be our authentic selves, yet being brave enough to do so is harder than it looks.
But if everyone else is going around playing into popularity contests or trying to come across as perfect, it can make you feel like you stick out like a sore thumb.
You’ve never been Vanilla, yet your original flavor isn’t to everyone’s taste.
8) You empathize with the misfits and outcasts in society
Whether that’s on TV and film, or in real life. You instantly recognize your people.
When they put their foot in it, you get it, because that’s happened to you plenty of times too.
When they get left out, you know their pain.
When people make snap decisions about them, you know firsthand how unfair it feels.
The rebels, the oddballs, the eccentrics, and the non-conformists in life — these are the people you feel like you have most in common with.
9) People always seem to make assumptions about you
Sadly, people seem to love to pigeonhole. Yet most of us are complex creatures, so it’s unreasonable to do so.
The more multi-dimensional you are, the harder it is to try to sum you up. But that doesn’t seem to stop people from trying.
This leads to repetitive misinterpretations of your character, your words, and your actions.
You feel like you are consistently misconstrued.
10) Sometimes it feels easier to isolate yourself
Parties and gatherings can feel excruciating as you try to force small talk that you don’t feel cut out for.
When you feel misunderstood, it can seem like the easiest option is to withdraw.
That way you don’t have to deal with the awkwardness or discomfort.
You prefer your own company because at least then you get to be yourself. You don’t feel any pressure to have to fit in or adapt yourself to suit other people.
At times, that can be a very lonely way to live.
11) Loneliness is nothing new to you
Being misunderstood can strain relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
They struggle to fully connect with and understand you, so you can end up feeling like nobody knows you on a deeper level.
In the long run, that’s a recipe for loneliness.
It’s not the quantity of our relationships that matters, but the quality is important.
If we don’t feel seen, heard, and appreciated for who we are, it’s painful.
12) Your self-esteem has taken a big hit
Feeling misunderstood can lead to heightened stress, anxiety, and a diminished sense of self-worth.
Over time, it’s bound to knock your confidence. Maybe you feel emotionally drained by it all.
Your self-esteem may have eroded causing self-doubt. That holds you back and inhibits personal growth.
These shakier foundations can take their toll and leave you questioning yourself, your abilities, and even your potential.
You may find yourself wondering if there’s something wrong with you.
If you do feel this way, it’s definitely time to take some steps to support yourself.
Is it them or is it you?
Living a life where you constantly feel misunderstood can be demoralizing, but it’s important to remember that change is possible.
Here’s the thing:
Sometimes it’s someone else’s problem.
Practicing self-care and building your self-esteem can help you to trust your instincts and back yourself.
Turning away from the superficiality of judgemental and jealous people is going to help too.
We’re not always going to be liked or understood, and accepting that is vital if we’re going to be happy regardless.
It’s okay to be different. Having an original way of seeing the world can be your greatest asset if you unashamedly embrace its strengths.
But before we let ourselves completely off the hook:
Sometimes we don’t always do ourselves a favor. Because there are often things we can do to try to be better understood.
That includes honing our communication skills, cultivating greater self-awareness, brushing up on social skills, and actively trying to seek out and foster more meaningful connections.
There will always be times in life when we feel misunderstood, but if we do these things, we can make sure that feeling doesn’t start to overshadow us.
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