Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, April 25, 2011

A-Z Challenge: U - Understanding

Understanding is one of the most important things we must learn if we want to live lives filled with inner peace. Because if we don't understand, we jump to erroneous conclusions which can lead to all sorts of problems.

Understanding ourselves is the first step. Getting to know what we like, what we don't like, what ticks us off, what pushes our buttons. Know yourself well enough to know why you react the way you do so you can change your reactions if you need to.

Those skills give you the ability to deal with difficult people and unpleasant situations in a healthy way. So if someone says something that upsets you, or makes you angry or sad, ask for clarification, rather than jump to conclusions about the person, i.e. they're out to get me, or they don't love me, or they're trying to get me to do something I don't want to do.

I can't tell you how many times I have assumed the wrong reason someone said or did something, or guessed at someone's intentions and was completely off base. Sometimes people don't realize what they're saying or doing is hurtful and has negative consequences. Understanding can work wonders in both people in that kind of situation.

Do you understand yourself well enough to know when you need clarification or you're assuming away? I'm still learning...



Odie Langley said...

The older I get the better I seem to understand. Sometimes it is unclear data I receive that throws me off until I get it cleared up.

Laura Eno said...

I think it's a life-long challenge. The older we get, the (hopefully) better we know ourselves. Our priorities change too, which helps.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think I'm still learning, too!

Joanne said...

It's definitely a lifelong process, that deepens as we go. It's fascinating, too, to get behind words and gestures with this understanding of their intent.

Ruth said...

I always try to understand why a person acts or says the things they do. Sometimes it isn't easy to figure it out.

Jules said...

The education is on going which is why I ALWAYS ask myself for clarification. I've learned I cannot be trusted. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Pixiebaby said...

Still learning as I go. I agree that it does seem to improve with age but is something never truly mastered.

Lauracea said...

I'm definitely beginning to understand people better and put myself "in their shoes". You instinctively know what someone is like, so you can gauge your reaction from there.

Bluestocking Mum said...

It's quite spooky but I've always had a bit of a sixth sense and an understanding about people.
As I'm getting older, I'm just becoming more sensitive to it, and to others when I 'see' their suffering.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

I thought your post excellent, as one grows older through expereience we seem to know more of the pifalls of life also how to achieve the ups.


Ann said...

Great post Karen. I am still learning, figuring and sorting. It is an ongoing class.

Arlee Bird said...

I don't think we can ever totally understand as their are so many variables at work. Probably the biggest problem in relationships is that we don't understand ourselves enough and are overly concerned about understanding and pleasing others. Like you say, knowing ourselves is the most important step in relating properly with others.

Hope you join us in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post on Monday May 2nd.

Angela Felsted said...

I'm still learning too.

Bish Denham said...

I'm always learning, but I certainly understand myself better now than I did when I was in my 20s. As for understanding another person, for me it's not so much understanding as accepting. If I have a hard time figuring myself out, I'm not going to be good at figuring out another.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post! So many people show a severe lack of understanding - of themselves and others. It's not an easy thing - I'm still working on it too.

Karen Walker said...

Odie, yeah, it's getting unclear messages that throws me, too. That's when I have to ask not assume.
Laura, absolutely for me it's lifelong learning.
Elizabeth, I think we'll all be always learning as long as we're living
Joanne, that's where I can get into trouble, though, making assumptions about what's underneath the words and gestures.
Angela, as are we all
Bish, Yes, acceptance is a big part of understanding
Arlee, I'll be happy to join the megareflections thingie

Ann, yes, it is

Yvonne, thanks so much

Bluestocking Mum, you are one lucky lady to have such a gift. I have it sometimes, but I don't always pay attention and sometimes have trouble reading the messages I'm getting

Lauracea, so true

Pixiebaby, I agree

Jules, you just crack me up!

Ruth, I'm working on always trying -don't always succeed, though

K.C. Woolf said...

You've touched on something important here. I agree with Lee that it's difficult/impossible to totally understand, because there are so many variables, but the closer we get to understanding, the easier it becomes to prevent or solve conflict.

And it's important to start with ourselves.

Karen Walker said...


Amy Brantley said...

In today's world, understanding some people takes quite a bit of stretching, but it's often necessary.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A lot of trial and error, but I'm getting closer!

The Old Silly said...

The more I come to understand, the more I realize I still need to understand. One of those Catch 22's of growth and self-realization.

Karen Walker said...

Jemi, no, I think it's one of the most difficult things we face
KC, yes, I agree with both of you
Amy, there's a difference between understanding and agreeing with and accepting someone even if we don't agree
Alex, ah yes, trial and error, good for you
The Old Silly, yes, it's true the more we learn the more we realize how much more there is to learn

baygirl32 said...

As I get older, I start to understand more, but I still have quite a ways to go

Better is Possible said...

One of my more difficult life lessons has not been to understand, but rather to be understood. I'm learning to be OK with not being understood. (do you know what I mean?)

Laurie Peel said...

I recently discovered that sitting quietly in a chair thinking about how to stay calm when someone pushes your buttons is a much different exercise from actually handling the situation when it happens. While I've got the chair part down pat, I recently failed big time in the actual situation...... hope I do better next time!

Karen Walker said...

babaygirl32, we all have a ways to go, believe me
Better is possible, yes, I know exactly what you mean
Laurie, oh, I feel your pain- you will do better each time.

Linda H. said...

I think the older we get, the closer we get but I am not sure we ever understand ourselves or others completely.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Many thanks for the comments on my last two post. Much appreciated,