30/06/2014 10:05 BST | Updated 29/08/2014 06:59 BST

The Joy of Being Misunderstood: How To Handle Pain

Really?! The joy of being misunderstood? Yes, bare with me for a second and just keep reading. Misunderstandings can be like sharing your home with a stranger: awkward, uncomfortable and frustrating. Even worse, when the stranger is supposed to be your best friend, parent or partner, and the intimate space is your relationship. No joy yet.

And, I am talking about sober misunderstandings, not even drunken ones. Without any alcohol in them, these people colour their assumptions of your supposed moral flaws. You are flabbergasted as you wonder how they cannot know you by now?!

Emotions are the muddy boots on your white carpet. Usually, these filthy misunderstandings cause feelings of anger, fear, isolation, confusion and even a stinging pain in your chest known as shock upon first seeing the mess of these emotions all laid out on the floor. We blame others and point fingers because it is easier than taking responsibility of the situation and our messy feelings.

Sometimes we put bigger expectations on others, than on ourselves. We judge someone for not being at the finish line whilst we are not even in the race. We expect complete honesty but hide ourselves behind iron clad walls. We demand respect but speak rudely and out of turn. We walk away from painful experiences leaving them to pick up the pieces we shatter.

It takes more than a lifetime for us to truly know ourselves; yet, we expect other humble beings to know us instantaneously within the convenience culture we have created. Demanding they do right by us at all times within only a few short years of learning our ways.

We all seek connection: to be plugged into each other; thoughts to be downloadable into our brain like a scene from the Matrix. Then, one day we wake up sharply out of sleep when someone strongly disagrees with our opinion, and we are forced to unplug ourselves from this false security of similarities. We single out that person as difficult, instead of just different to us.

The difference between Gandhi and Hitler is how one deals with misunderstandings. One sought to bridge a gap over misunderstandings to reach out with love and non-judgement, whilst the other sought to make the gap a lot wider so it can be filled with hate and inhumanness.


Misunderstandings break a fragile self-esteem like a bowling ball through a single glazed window. We question our own selves when someone else questions our core. Almost like, we can't be put ourselves together without acknowledging how someone else sees us. The negative is always so much easier to believe than the positive. We fight extra hard for our own justice, instead of doing the smart thing of double glazing our self-esteem to allow emotionally mixed weather to fall. We can't always predict sunshine.

If someone is projecting a negative image unto you, all you have to do is connect with self to resist it. This is what some of us don't do well enough and this is why we allow our feathers to be ruffled. Instead, hold your flame up high when someone else thinks all light should go out. It is the balance of not extinguishing ourselves to make that negative person happy, but also allowing them to express themselves in whichever way they choose.

Stay lit, regardless of anyone else's insecurity of light. You have as much right to be light as they have to be dark. Maybe, you are changing the status quo in your workplace or challenging your co-worker by being uber-talented. Or, maybe this path in your family has never been walked before and you are getting criticised constantly. Hopefully not, but maybe it's your colour they don't understand, or your race, or your strong accent.

It's ok: they don't have to understand. Rash judgement of others is for fools who can't see the faults within themselves clearly. If you believe these rash judgements that are put upon you, then you are a fool for believing a fool. So, don't be a fool. Be great.

"To be great is to be misunderstood." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Learn to love misunderstandings as they make life interesting and help to challenge you to grow into a beautiful being. It is not always beneficial for us to stay in the warm space of security, understanding and effortlessness. Giving birth is difficult because you are creating greatness. If the baby wanted to stay in the womb, then it could never have a glimpse of the colourful contrast to their current, dark limitations.

When you are misunderstood know that you have a right to respond but not an obligation to. Silence is often very powerful when used for listening and learning. Go towards the hippy signs of peace and understanding through misunderstanding; they had a point in the sixties. Two fingers up -- no the other way!

Another very powerful technique: view the person with objectivity, a bit like a caring doctor for their patient; offer help in anyway you can. Be part of a caring profession with the hurting people around you. Don't hurt them more. They are already in a cycle of negativity and despair, hence why they project that unto you falsely. Realising this takes away the edge and allows fiery emotions to dissipate into thin air like a quiet breeze.

It takes an element of selflessness and discipline to do the above, so spend some time loving yourself also. Light some candles, put some nice music on and take time to nurture, self-soothe and forgive those who have hurt you. Try to objectively analyse the problem to see what positive lessons you can learn from that potential conflict. What truth was revealed that you can work on within yourself? Be better.

Know that the greatest people in the world all stood out for the right reasons. Often, they had to make a decision to choose whether they were willing to endure the loneliness and scrutiny of being misunderstood first. Maybe, artists who were misunderstood in life and appreciated in death were too much of a threat to humanity at that current time. Although, they did not allow the potential for misunderstandings to to stop the creation of a masterpiece.

You are that masterpiece that world may not yet understand. The more misunderstood you are in your family or friendship circles the more the world is trying to prepare you for potential greatness, now or in the next century. Be encouraged.