I have been asking this question of a variety of people: What is the most difficult thing about going through a life-changing trial? I have asked various people from all walks of life, and in a variety of situations. Hands down, the biggest thing I hear people saying is, “Nobody understands what I’m going through”. Isn’t that interesting that we all feel this way? It’s quite ironic that we all feel alone together.
I think it is very true! Nobody understands what I’m going through. Nobody truly can. I have had this feeling a lot myself. I have a different life than my neighbors, friends, and family. They don’t understand my life or my choices. They don’t understand the stresses I’m under. Even those who think they are in a similar situation don’t understand what I’m going through. Nobody understands what I’m going through. I think that may be one of the most difficult truths in this life. It makes us feel alone in the world.
What do you do when you feel alone? Is there an answer to this problem? I think there are a few answers.
I have experienced a huge amount of love and kindness from others. Others have been there for me in my biggest crises. They have taken care of my children, been a shoulder to cry on, cleaned my house, done my laundry, and the list goes on and on. It is wonderful to have people helping and supporting. Having someone who cares can make all the difference during a difficult time or in a difficult moment.
I have found that the hardest part comes after the crisis seems to be over. Everything has settled down, and the people around you don’t always realize you are still struggling. For me, this is the hardest time. I feel that I have to deal with all the emotions and responsibilities myself, and it is easy to feel alone and that nobody understands what I’m going through.
It is very hard to do, but I have found that letting someone know I’m having a hard day can make all the difference. People want to help. They just usually don’t know how and when to help. Sometimes you have to tell them.
See the Good
It is easy to be frustrated with those around us. Sometimes they say things that are hurtful. They may throw judgment around about things they have no clue about. Sometimes you feel a complete lack of support when you need it most. These things are frustrating because you need support more than ever, and it’s hard to feel it.
You are the only one who you have control of. This is a truth that holds a lot of power. Yes, it means you can’t control anyone else, but the power is in you. You can choose to see the good in others. You can choose your response to the actions of others
I believe that for the most part people are doing their very best with the knowledge and experience they have. They may say things that are hurtful, or give you bad advice, etc, but their intentions may be good. Even if their intentions are not good, you can always find something that is good about them. Maybe you will have to look hard, but it gets easier with practice.
I choose to see the good. It is incredibly helpful to consciously think of good things about someone when I may be feeling frustrated or unsupported. We are all just doing our best. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is very helpful to you and to them.
A Truth and a Lie
While I believe it is a truth that no one on understands what I’m going through, I think it is also a lie.We all have each other. We are brothers and sisters, and we all go through hard things. The hard things we go through may be different, and they have varying degrees of hardship.
However, I believe that every difficult experience has similarities. Different trials can teach us the same things. Hard equals hard. It isn’t right to compare trials. For someone else, something I don’t even see as difficult could be as difficult for them as what I’m going through. While this fact in and of itself can be very frustrating and triggering, I think it can also be very helpful to understand. We ALL know what it’s like to go through something difficult. Because we all experience trials, we all have some extent of empathy for others going through hard things. We have each other in this crazy, difficult life. Don’t we all understand each other to an extent?
A Look in the Mirror
After my youngest, August, was born, there was a time that I wasn’t feeling very much support. He was needing surgery, and I was having a difficult time with my emotions. We were planning to travel to Philadelphia for the surgery, which required a lot of planning and outside help. I was frustrated with others for not being able to see and anticipate my needs. I felt very alone, and that nobody understood what I was going through.
As I was feeling sorry for myself, I realized that I was wanting others to be something that I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t the friend, sister, daughter, etc. that I was expecting others to be for me. I made a goal right then and there that I was going to be the friend, the sister, the daughter, the mother that I wanted others to be for me. It is amazing how that changed everything! I started finding myself giving out of love. I felt the joy of serving others, and it was amazing how my love for them increased as I served them. The other amazing thing that happened is that others started doing the same for me. It was incredible!
I most definitely am not perfect at this. It is a work in progress! It is always important to know when to say yes and when to say no, as I describe here.
Feeling Alone Forces us to Look to God
Maybe it’s a good thing that we feel alone sometimes. Sometimes we are given challenges so big that we can’t handle them alone. I think that’s part of the plan. We aren’t supposed to do this life alone. We aren’t supposed to rely on our own strength.
Sometimes, I think we are given challenges that are outside of our capacity to handle because we will be more likely to turn to God. I believe that even when no one else understands, there is One who does. Jesus Christ felt all of our sadness and pain and loneliness. He understands how we feel and what we need. We can always find empathy there. He is the only one who truly understands what you are going through. He can help us and comfort us like no one on this Earth can.
I have felt my burdens be lightened as I have turned to God for help. Because of the hard things I have gone through, I have a much stronger relationship with Him. I know that even I feel that I am all alone and that no one understands, He does. He is always there.
3 Strategies to Feel More Understood
In summary, we have discussed 3 ways to feel more understood (with a few other little gold nuggets scattered throughout). If you can truly do these things, you will see that while it is true that nobody truly understands what you’re going through, there are ways to feel less alone.
- See the good in others. Notice that while they may be imperfect (just like you), they are doing their best. Find something good about them and/or their efforts
- Look in the mirror. Be the kind of friend or family member you want for yourself. You will find this to be extremely rewarding.
- Look to God. Remember that Jesus Christ understands exactly what you are going through. You always have someone who truly understands. Sometimes we are given things we can’t handle alone so we will look to God and ask for help. He is there. You are not alone!
I know that as you do these 3 things, you will feel empowered. You will feel more understood and much less like nobody understands what you’re going through.