How misunderstandings can cause suffering

How many times have you ever said something to someone and you knew it came off wrong or was misunderstood, and you didnt try to correct it? Many of us have done this at some point during the span of our lives. Even worse, are the times you have said something to someone and you automatically assumed that the other person understood it as you meant it, when in fact they might not have.

The truth is that all of us see the world through different eyes and have different ways of understanding what we see and hear. You might think that because you are close to someone that they always understand exactly what you mean. However this is not always the case.

Every time we interact with another person we are leaving an impression on them of who we are, what we mean to them, how we feel towards them, or see them in our lives. Those impressions are powerful. With those impressions we have the power to make another person feel loved, or unloved, appreciated, or unappreciated. We have the power to build a relationship, or destroy one. We can build walls, that slowly build up over time becoming a wall that we can no longer climb over.

Many times a lifelong suffering can begin with just one simple misunderstanding. You think someone said something to you or slighted you in some way, so you put up your first wall. That impression is formed. From that moment on, your interactions with that person will be seen through the filter of that impression. If that impression is wrong, it may cause you to not see things as they actually are. You may start to think you are slighted even when you are not. You will begin to suffer, and the other person will suffer as well. You may start to treat that person differently, or less kindly. But what if you had it wrong? What if you weren’t slighted? What if you simply misunderstood what the other person meant or said?

None of us are exempt from making these mistakes. To make mistakes is the most human thing. No matter how hard we try to always do our best, mistakes will still be made.

Proper communication is vital. It can ensure that we don’t build walls or misunderstandings with the people we communicate with. We also have to factor into account, that in this day and age many are disconnected from human interaction, caught up in their digital bubble, that makes the societal breakdown in communication even more prevalent.

Sometimes it can help if we just slow down and pay attention to each other while we talk. Body language is telling. If a person has a confused look on their face or one that suddenly looks unhappy perhaps they may not have completely understood what you said. Or perhaps  you have said something you shouldn’t have. The key is to ask, if someone says something and you aren’t completely sure what they meant, you can simply ask them, “what do you mean by that”? You can ask in a way that is probing and does not come off as rude. If you said something you shouldn’t have, apologize right away.

If you think a person has done something wrong, or slighted you, or said something wrong to you or about you, it is imperative that you ask them. These things need to be cleared up right away. If we allow them to leave an impression, it will fester, and change our views of that person forever. We don’t want to be wrong when it comes to something so serious. These little moments build up over time.

You can easily work it out without confrontation. Just tell the person that you would like to ask them something and tell them you don’t mean to be confrontational, or want to make them upset, but you want to clarify the situation. It wont always end well, but at least this is a chance to clear things up on peaceful grounds. If you find out that your perception was wrong, you will feel relief immediately, that impression and wall will vanish at once. In fact you may even feel silly for your misunderstanding. But we all do it, from time to time.

If you have an argument with someone, you should also try to talk it out as soon as possible, these things can be destructive. Our words are a powerful tool, they can manifest good or bad in the world. We should do everything in our power to not use our words to tear down or destroy another person. If you argue with someone wait until you are both calm, and then tell that person you want to talk it over, but without words that hurt. This kind of communication is possible, it just takes a little extra effort. You can apologize for the things you said, and explain why you said it, and why you felt hurt. You can vow to try and do better.

There are not very many people in the world who would rather be cut by daggers’, than surrounded by flowers. If you confront a person with harsh words your words will be like daggers’ that cut that person at his or her very foundations. But if you speak in a way that offers understanding and willingness to make peace and an effort to be kind, your words will be like flowers. If we live this way we can make others lives better, including our own. We can ease the suffering in the world though proper communication.

These basics, of communication also apply to rumors, or even just talking about others. It is imperative that we never say anything behind another persons back that we wouldn’t say to their face. Often times we say meaningless things to fill up the time. I will give you one example. One time when I was younger, I was at work and on my way in the work center. I stopped by the water fountain to get some water, and I made a joke about a really kind man. I don’t remember what I said, it was something about his grey hair. I didn’t mean it at all. I was just joking around. I went around the corner to enter the doors and there was that man I had just said that terrible thing about, waiting for me and holding the door open for me. That was a painful moment in my life. I knew that he had heard me, yet he was still kindly holding the door for me. In a million years I would never have said what I did if I had known he was there.

This was a life lesson for me. I realized that words aren’t harmless. I realized words are powerful, and they have the power to make a more beautiful world or one that is not. We shouldn’t use them haphazardly or in meaningless ways. We should only say something if we mean it. We should also never say anything about a person that we wouldn’t say to their face. We should always consider that the person we are talking to is a human being just like us who feels pain, and joy. We should do everything in our power to make sure we aren’t causing others pain.

In the case of rumors, more often that not, what we hear about others isn’t true. If you have ever heard rumors about a person and began to dislike them, and met them in person later, you may be strangely surprised to find that they are nothing like what you have heard. Those rumors are another persons perceptions, and experiences. Many of us can live our life with these wrong notions, they can cause so much division and pain,  sadly much of it may be based on misperceptions, or misbeliefs.

If we ever wonder if we have been misunderstood, we can ask our loved ones, “have I ever said, or done anything that has built a barrier in your heart or a resentment”? If they answer you, you will have the chance to talk it out, and remove that barrier. It would be wonderful if we could live our lives without misunderstanding one another, or causing any harm to others.

May our words and thoughts be like flowers making the world a better and more beautiful place for all. Changing the world begins with me. One person at a time, one heart at a time we can make the world a better place for us all.

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