My best friend admitted to me many years ago: “I feel like no one understands me,” whenever we got into a deep conversation.
During our time as friends, I saw him in three long-term relationships. When he was dating, he still says the same thing. I thought this was a curious thing. He surrounded himself by people who loved and accepted him, who really saw him (including me), yet he was convinced no one understood him.
Our friendship faded away because he didn’t know how to be intimate with people in his life.
Let me explain: I’m a person who loves intimacy.
The problem, societally speaking, is that we’re taught that intimacy only happens between two people having sex.
This isn’t true.
There are so many kinds of intimacy. And in every one of my friendships, I have platonic intimacy.
To me, intimacy is really getting to know a person. You share parts of your heart with that person, and you trust them to be responsible with your heart by caring for you. They SEE you, and vice versa.
It’s the only way I like to do relationships.
Sure, I have my “once in a blue moon hanging out superficially” friends.
But even with them, we get into deep conversations when I do see them. These friends still share things with me because they trust me. I care about what is happening in the heart of every person I choose to spend my time with.
I don’t find superficial relationships satisfying.
I don’t know what the point of a superficial relationship is.
Give me a moonlit sky, a hard cider, and lying on a blanket looking at the stars while sharing deep things with another person, any day over superficial chit-chat.
Because of this, I started to notice over time that aside from telling me “I feel like no one understands me” or the occasional advice session over an argument he’d had with a girlfriend, he never shared much of his heart with me.
He’d send me funny texts every once in a while. But he never shared with me what was going on in his inner world. I grew increasingly dissatisfied with this superficial dynamic. When I talked to him about this, he responded that he didn’t know how to be intimate with other people unless he was dating them or sleeping with them.
Except I’d been friends with the women, he’d been in relationships with.
They were readily available for intimacy.
And I saw how he’d always “seem” to let them into his heart. But not all the way. It was the reason for all their breakups. After the breakup, the women would tell me they never felt like he really let them in.
When I complained to him about the lack of platonic intimacy in our friendship, he promised he’d work on it but never did. He was avoidant or would run away if the conversation got too deep.
Over time, we naturally drifted apart.
I was not interested in putting energy into a superficial friendship, and he wasn’t willing to let anyone in, even platonically.
I recently saw a post by Chani Nicholas that said, “All acts of intimacy are acts of courage.” It struck me because it’s so true.
In my experience, most people are afraid of intimacy.
They tell themselves, “I’ve let people into my heart, I’ve been intimate,” and they use past relationships as an example. But if they were to be really honest with themselves, a small piece of their heart understands that they don’t want anyone to see it.
Most people run from intimacy, even while saying they want it. Intimacy inspires fear because it’s hard to trust that someone would love every part of us, even if we don’t like those parts—it is genuinely courageous to let someone SEE you.
There’s a reason the cheesy adage “Intimacy means into-me-I-see” is so popular.
It’s true. Intimacy means letting someone truly SEE you, all of you, without masks, imperfections, and all.
If there are parts of you you shame or don’t accept and love, you’re going to keep people at a slight distance from you, always. Because you’ll assume they won’t love and get you because you don’t. It’s too painful to imagine rejection after showing your full self, so instead, you run from people who DO see you.
When you meet people who really see you, you purposely sabotage the relationship or avoid them because you can’t love and accept yourself. You’re terrified of even allowing someone to love those parts of you because it means you’ll have to love and accept those parts of you too.
This issue is both a Visibility Capacity™ and an Embodiment Capacity™ issue. You’re terrified of allowing yourself to be fully seen (visibility capacity) because you don’t love and accept yourself fully at your core (embodiment capacity).
This deficiency will show up in all the relationships in your life.
Often, you’ll think and feel “no one understands me.”
It’s not that people don’t understand you. It’s that you don’t let them understand you because you don’t let them in close enough to your heart. And the ones who do see and understand you, you push away.
You’ll sabotage intimate relationships with friends or romantic partners who truly do understand you and jump from relationship to relationship, always looking for “the one who understands you.”
In your business or career relationships, you’ll always hide parts of yourself and, as a result, market yourself in a way that isn’t effective.
When you miss an entire chunk of your uniqueness, you’re missing part of your branding.
And you live in fear of genuinely sharing what you feel for fear of being “canceled.” The result is a vanilla brand with lukewarm sales.
You’ll shy away from networking and forming valuable career-oriented relationships that could be lucrative partnerships for you because you’ll always assume “no one” in your industry “gets’ you.
You won’t release important work into the world that could make a significant impact because you’ll assume no one will get it or appreciate it.
See how that works?
Capacity Work™ isn’t just about “business,” it’s about your LIFE. And the phrase “how you do anything is how you do everything” is popular for a reason—frequently, it’s true.
Feeling loved, accepted, heard, understood, cherished, praised, and celebrated—all of that is about building intimacy with the people in your life and letting people see you. The real you.
So if you feel “no one understands you,” it’s time to start expanding your capacity to be understood, and that means growing your capacity for greater courage, because like Chani Nicholas says, “All acts of intimacy are also acts of courage.” No courage capacity = no intimacy = constantly feeling misunderstood and holding yourself back.
If you’re ready to let people in so you can step into the most excellent version of your life and work, head here to learn about Capacity Shift™, where we work on Visibility and Embodiment Capacity every month.