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Understanding Series: You Have Options

by Jo-Ann Downey

in Relationship Communication Skills

Have you ever spent hours trying to understand a person, event, or situation? Does this happen more when you are upset? Is your process of understanding a mental based activity? Are you aware of the different types and levels of understanding?

According to, understanding is:

  • A mental process of a person who comprehends; comprehension; personal interpretation
  • Intellectual faculties; intelligence; mind
  • Superior power of discernment; enlightened intelligence

I’m focused on the last definition and the opportunity and power you have to choose the level of enlightenment you bring to your level of understanding (or consciousness). There is a hard way and there is a more graceful way to understand, especially difficult situations.

Authentic Understanding
When you see someone (or something) primarily with “thinking eyes” you tend to do things like compare, contrast, project past experiences into the future, play old stories in your head, insert your own preferences and judge. You are likely to want to take action and/or control or fix someone or something (“Seeing from Your Heart”).

When you see from your heart you will be more present to the possibility that you really don’t know all the variables present.  In that consciousness you are more likely to be more accepting and peaceful, trust more and be less judgmental. To do this, you need to get out of your head and into your heart (“Forgiveness Series: Observing Where You are Coming From”).

Have you ever noticed that when you move into trust versus mental or physical doing, that many things seem to work themselves out (“Holding for Something vs Waiting for Something”)?

“Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.”  H.H. Williams (1872-1961)

You Have Options
Where do you understand from- your head, your inner wisdom, what others say or believe, outdated or the beliefs of others, boredom, fear, etc.?

Genuine understanding most often includes the combination of thoughtful consideration (head) and positive emotions (heart). Use your head to learn lessons, however, don’t be entirely led by your head. Some say, lead with your heart and let your head follow!  More on that later.

You have options that are within your control and (complete) mental understanding is optional! Needless time spent in trying to mentally understand can be a distraction to understanding. And when you are upset, time is better spent in your heart focused compassion for yourself and others.

You may want to read “Understanding Series: Acceptance and Success”“There is No Such Thing as a Table for Two”“Forgiveness Series: Categorizing and Judging”“Acceptance and Patience”“7 Ways To Open Your Heart”, and “When your Relationships are Good your Life is Good“.

photo credit: karen bryan

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