Space to be Understood

Sometimes we must put off the need to be heard in order to be understood.

Being misunderstood can leave us feeing powerless. This can lead to frustration. Sometimes, in an attempt to overcome our frustration, we try harder to be heard, thinking that if only we can explain ourselves better, if only we can get our point across, we will regain our power.

By doing this, by combatting our frustration directly, we risk creating unnecessary conflict. Conflict may lead to understanding, but often at a price of one person or the other’s integrity. Being understood, with integrity intact, is a higher, more desirable goal than simply being understood for the sake of being understood.

If we can resist the urge to make ourselves heard, if we can quiet ourselves, if we can step back for a moment, not to withdraw, but to gain a broader perspective, and try to understand the other person’s point of view, we may find that it is not really that important to be understood after all.

By the mere fact of our easing up, by giving the other person room to be him or herself, we give them permission to decide whether or not to listen, instead of us forcing our decision on them. This space, this freedom to move and to choose, free of threat, is the gateway to true understanding because understanding is a mutual choice.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Artwork by Ana, except where otherwise noted

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