Value of the week – Understanding


“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” Carl Jung

Do you have those moments when you feel irritated by the words or actions of another person? Do you hear yourself being critical of someone and perhaps sharing the criticism with another, possibly by having a good gossip? I sense most of us have to own up to such behaviour. 

My wife Jane, who is a psychotherapist, sometimes reminds me that what we see in others is often a reflection of ourselves. In other words, that other people give us an opportunity to heal those aspects of ourselves that cloud our clarity and empathetic understanding of others.

Understanding may be described as a sympathetic awareness; it is much more than simply knowing.  It assumes self-knowledge and an awareness of other people’s feelings.  Being understanding shows that we are tolerant, forgiving, compassionate and intuitively perceptive.

Here in the UK, Covid-19 restrictions are putting families under all types of pressures, as they consider who they will see or not see over the Christmas period.  The situation will require a lot of understanding of the situations and feelings of others.  It calls on us to be selfless, remembering the unintended consequences of our decisions. For instance, in meeting up with one part of our extended family do we inadvertently hurt the feelings of another – difficult dilemmas to be solved with honesty, thoughtfulness and above all understanding.