Taking Time To Understand Others

How many times have you jumped to a wrong conclusion about something?

How many times have you inadvertently assessed a situation from the entirely wrong angle?

How many times have you completely misjudged someone?

Without even realising it, we all easily do this on a regular basis.

Tiredness, busyness, listening to others views and opinions, are all factors that can colour our thinking, often in a subliminal way.

The Need to be Understood and Believed

One of our strongest themes on my chronic illness support forum, Medical Musings With Friends, is the desire for people with chronic illness, especially invisible illness, to be understood and believed.

The conversations are often about how others, who we deem “healthy”, have no idea of the pain and suffering someone with chronic illness deals with on a daily basis. The invisible illness so easily leads to misconceptions and hurtful misunderstandings.

In some cases we are probably right that others don’t understand what they haven’t experienced themselves, but are they being cruel for no “apparent” reason?


Everyone Has a Story

Let’s for a moment flip that thought on its head.

What if the grumpy person behind the coffee counter questioning why you don’t work, or the person complaining that they wish they could lie in every morning like you do etc, actually were in pain too?

What if their pain was also invisible and they felt no one cared or understood them? What if they were suffering from depression, grief over the loss of a loved one or chronic fatigue?

What if they were undiagnosed and no one believed them? What if they felt resentment when they saw others who were acknowledged for their pain and suffering?

What if they were suffering domestic violence and felt helpless and hopeless? What if they were being harassed at work?

Every life, every person has their own story. It’s never simple. Even when someone appears to have everything and have it all together, they will still have layers of untold stories.

The Disgruntled Nurse

I had an extremely disgruntled nurse during one of my hospital stays. She felt more like a prison warden and she actually scared me. She was often on night duty which seemed to make her scarier.

On Day 3 of this particular hospital stay, I decided I needed to stop being so anxious about her being on duty. That night she came into my ward in her gruff manner. She was taking my obs and in order to break the wall of silence, I asked her how her day had been.

I got a grunt type answer.

I persevered and asked did she enjoy nursing? Well, that was the key question!!

Within moments she opened up her life story. She loved nursing but she had just broken up with her husband…..she was grieving so much. Her story was a complicated one.

I asked simple questions to keep the conversation going and she stayed sitting with me for 30 mins and we chatted like old friends.  Like me, she had also had broken bones but not as a result of a disease.

She told me she was so upset by my story she wasn’t sure how to talk to me about my disease and my non-healing fractures. It turned out it was why she had been so quiet over the previous days when she was around me.

I had no idea how deeply she cared. My own prejudices about her demeanor, had caused me to create a persona for her that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

From that point on she would pop into my room every afternoon, before her shift started, to say hello. We would chat about how I was but more importantly we’d chat about how she was.

My scary prison warden had softened. She still looked a little frightening but she was a scarred, flawed person…just like me, just like you, needing someone to take the time to understand her needs.

 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it”

Hebrews 13:2 New International Version (NIV)

Are You Ok?

If you are faced with animosity or misunderstanding from someone as you go about your daily life, try to stay calm and think about what might be going on in their lives. Ask them if they are ok?

It’s amazing how conversations between two strangers can evolve, full of genuine understanding, when we decide to turn our focus to caring for the other person.

By simply asking, “Are you ok?” when you feel someone is misunderstanding you, the real story behind the harsh comment might reveal a very real need, not dissimilar from your own.

Sam xx

Luke 6:31 New International Version (NIV)

Do to others as you would have them do to you.”


If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding & friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic & complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.

I’m also a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page

I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women

I’m a member of  the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network and the  Grace Girls Facebook Group

This post was shared at the Salt and Light Linkup Group

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WEGO Health Award 2018 Nominee





10 thoughts on “Taking Time To Understand Others

  1. This is a fantastic post and you’re so spot on : everyone “will still have layers of untold stories.” An interesting conversation you had with that nurse, and I’m glad you had it. It’s taking the time to appreciate what other reasons there may be, what may be happening beneath the surface… Very well said, Sam xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sam, what a fantastic post. I’ve experienced the same breaking down of barriers of perception by asking others who seem grumpy How their day is going, what good things have happened etc. It can really stop them in their tracks and enable communication to flourish. Brilliant piece of writing. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

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