Columnist emphasizes importance of understanding others


By Brooke McAfee

It seems to me that people are so often caught up inside their own minds they forget to truly see other people. They may listen to the words others say and notice what is on the the exterior, but true understanding of what is going on in another’s mind frequently escapes them.This does not necessarily mean someone is uncaring– everyone has been guilty of this form of blindness. We become so entangled within the complex maze of the mind — and all the worries, excitement, and responsibilities that preoccupy us — that we forget to look for what is concealed beneath the surface of other people.

I am constantly aware of how little I truly reveal of what is going on in my mind. It is a part of my personality I have struggled with for years. When I keep my thoughts silent, misunderstanding and disinterest inevitably follow me. Yet I am equally guilty, because I often retreat too far into my mind and become distant with those around me. All it really takes is for us to listen harder and look deeper. Yet sometimes this can be the most difficult thing in the world, with all the layers of false sentiments, hidden feelings, and insecurity which often lay upon the surface.

We encounter countless numbers of people in our lives, but how many do we really get to know? Knowing a person goes beyond simply chatting with them on a daily basis. There are people I may have known on a basic level for years, but I cannot honestly say I know them. When I get to know a person, I want to learn what makes them who they are and what they think and believe, not simply the day to day events of their life, their plans for prom, or the latest gossip they have overheard. I want to understand people, rather than just be acquainted with them.

Without understanding a person, I believe we are more naturally inclined towards judgment or indifference. Perhaps the person who comes across as obnoxious only acts in such a way because they are too accustomed to being ignored, and the person with an unpleasant attitude is the victim of depression. Ignorance and misunderstanding can only lead to harm, whether intended or unintended. Compassion, which is rooted in understanding, is something we need much more of in the world.

Humans will always wish to hide their flaws and weakness, and people will always be perplexed about how to accurately express themselves. We will never fully know another’s mind, but we should certainly make efforts to do so. The people who say little often are the ones who have the most to say, and it is essential that we show interest in hearing what is on their mind, and seeing what may not be immediately obvious. If we do not make attempts to understand one another, there are many who may go through life believing they are not worth listening to. We simply need to take the time to notice what is right in front of us.

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