Understanding People You Don’t Understand


Every now and then I think about people who for one reason or another I never understood. Whether it was a choice they made, a situation they got themselves into, or a perception they held about the world or themselves, I drew a blank.

This is not an uncommon experience, but when it does happen, it can be disconcerting. Sometimes, during an unguarded moment, I began to think that maybe appreciating someone who is so perplexing is a skill that can be learned. Perhaps if I thought of it as a challenge rather then a threat while remaining aware of the importance of maintaining objectivity, it is possible to gain some insight. Even then, this state has been been difficult to achieve or sustain, without slipping back into a limited perspective.

Among other things, the ability to figure out someone is dependent on three things: What they reveal about themselves, what I think they are expressing at any given moment, balanced by my willingness to put myself in their shoes while continuing to be honest about how I’m feeling inhabiting their situation, whatever their circumstances are. After all, this is a basis for human existence and, at its source, motivation.

The most enduring insights, the one’s that lead to visceral change, usually come from self discovery rather than from being told by someone else. Perhaps because these are the ones that last the longest and often become the basis for different trains of thought; emerging from an evolution in thinking evoked by elements not considered until they are learned in conversations with others, usually when focused on unrelated subjects and fed by curiosity that reveals one of the blind spots unique to the individual.

In any event, grasping someones psyche can lead to tolerance and forgiveness if what makes them tick is something that has caused pain. Then, letting go and moving on becomes the basis of growth and development beyond the initial sense of disorientation and anger, particularly when much of it is self inflicted,  yet another truth revealed, as I look into the mirror and see my own reflection.