One of the most painful things that can happen in relationships is to feel like we really just can’t get through to another person; that no matter how hard we try to make ourselves heard, somehow the other person just can’t or won’t see our point of view.

The need for understanding is a basic and incredibly deep human need. In fact, this can even be to the point that when we’re chronically misunderstood or projected onto, it can become an actual trauma of sorts; a silent frustration that builds and builds inside of us until we feel we will just about explode.

Yet the painful truth is that some people really just can’t or won’t hear or see us, not for who we are, nor for what we want to get across. (This is especially painful when experienced first at the hands of a parent, and later at the hands of one’s spouse as well). And then we are caught between two very difficult options, one of them active and one of them passive: either to try harder to “force” something “impossible” to happen for us, or to passively give up on an unmet need that we really do need (and did need) to have met.

Giving up on getting what we need is in essence a resignation, a surrender to an impossibility, a painful acceptance of a reality that hurts so much.

Trying again and again can feel more active, more empowered; a refusal to give up! In essence, not giving up on getting through is a protest; a fight response in the face of an unmet need. This looks like taking a stand for what one feels a healthy sense of entitlement to.

In truth, facing the limitations of what others can or will give to us emotionally, with an attitude of quiet surrender, is probably the bigger act of strength (and also a source of liberation), yet it requires a baseline sense of trust and security that we can cope with that which we already do not have.
Learning to live more consciously with what we’re already missing, without the distraction of false hope, is an act that takes courage and support.

This time of year it’s good to take stock of what we have and what we need, as well as to think about what kind of support or help we need to prepare to let go of outdated expectations of others that no longer serve us. When we fixate on trying to get something we can’t really have, it in fact creates a feeling of victimization and blocks us from pursuing more autonomous ways of finding people and things that can meet our legitimate needs more faithfully.

Mourning our hopes and expectations can seem so scary…especially when we’re used to going it alone emotionally. But in the context of the right support it really just might set you free.