To Those Who Feel Unheard & Misunderstood
I'm sure at some point in your life you may have felt unheard or misunderstood. Whether people actually didn't acknowledge you and misunderstood you, or whether it was just your perception that it was happening.
Beyond a few random instances of this, there are then some of us who might have felt this many, many times in our lives - perhaps a recurring theme. For us, something in our core experience states "people don't hear me, they don't understand me and I can't seem to do anything about that."
I know, because I have felt this many times in my life. While this can sometimes be a shitty feeling, most of the time it isn't entirely true, and we've simply 'trained' ourselves to see our experience this way.
Before we go on I want to note, if you feel that in your experience you are in a legitimately abusive situation, the contents of this article may not apply in the same way. Here I'm going to refer to the majority of instances where this is more of a self-imposed perception within our experience.
Exploring The Mind
I had known for a long time that my lingering feeling of being unheard was not something that resulted from things people are doing to me in those moments. Instead, I had developed a habit of seeing situations through this victim focused lens because of a handful of experiences in my past I had not fully processed.
(Processing is a way in which you work out what happened, what emotions you felt and what the experience might have meant to you. There's no 'one way' to process something, but usually, you find resolve after processing and the emotional trigger around the subject is now gone.)
Essentially, even in times where I was heard and understood, I often didn't see it, and instead, my brain looked for ways to prove that I was not heard because that was the reality I came to know.
The reason for this comes down to how our brains work. The brain's reticular activating system (RAS), is a useful system where all senses are connected. It's like a filter that helps the brain so it doesn't have to deal with more information than it can handle.
The RAS is working all day long to filter out the less important aspects of what we're constantly seeing and hearing, and instead focuses on the things that are important.
In a basic example, when you're driving, your senses pick up on the angle a branch is hanging off a tree in your peripheral vision, but this is not important to keeping you safe while driving, so that is filtered out and instead your brain tells you how far you are from the person in front of you.
As useful as this system is, it's important to know how to understand and navigate it when it comes to looking at our suffering.
Recapping for a second, the RAS is like a gatekeeper of information that is let into the conscious mind. That is to say, the RAS can filter in information that is then established in our subconscious, or deeper belief systems. It will also let in something we are really focusing on intently in a given moment.
What this means in the context of my story of not being heard, or any story for that matter, is that my RAS was literally operating to reinforce that story already within my subconscious mind. Any information that didn't reinforce that story, was likely not going to be let in as easily. This is why even when I was being heard, I didn't acknowledge it as deeply as when I was feeling unheard.
Example: I might have factually had 100,000 people read an article I wrote, but that doesn't become something I pay attention to. Instead, I notice the people who didn't read the article, didn't understand the article, or the 5 people who left negative comments - all while 50 people left great ones.
Enough on the technicals for now.
Some Background & Some Thoughts on a Solution
If you've watched some of the discussions I have had with people a couple of years ago on my podcast episodes or interviews, you might have noticed times where at the end people begin thanking me for the work I've done and how it has impacted them, and usually I well up.
This is partly because when I conduct my conversations I'm really engaged, and in these moments I'm hearing proof of something that is meaningful to me, and that I almost can't believe someone would say.
In my subconscious mind and story at the time, I was feeling unheard, misunderstood, and that people don't see the totality of the message I'm trying to share with my work.
Regardless of what anyone else might think looking at the billions of content views CE's content has received over the last 14 years, (we have re-branded to The Pulse since) I still feel unheard. It's true I didn't create all the content that's been seen. It's true that I can't lay out my entire mission and message in every piece of content I've created. But mostly, I didn't feel heard or understood because of my internal stories - my subconscious stories - not because of what is happening in my life.
This all started when I was a kid, then I processed these experiences through transformational work around 2009, and then the pattern returned around mid-2017 when life got very chaotic and I let stories reprogram my mind's RAS once again.
Some of the earliest memories where these stories began to emerge in my life was when I was in grade 5 and I began telling my friends and classmates that I felt what we were learning in school was not really helping us but making us "brainwashed to accept normal society." Sounds harsh I know lol. And perhaps most fifth graders don't think this way, but I did. And I still do feel traditional education is largely atrocious.
That aside, by the time grade 7 and 8 rolled around, my peers were all beginning to really express their style, personality and were adopting pop culture. I didn't go the 'pop' route because it felt uncomfortable and inauthentic to me, but this is where the story takes the next step.
I was now a visible outsider. I felt that people were adopting pop culture in lockstep because everyone else was, and everyone wanted to fit in. I got it, but it seemed robotic and weird to me at the time, and quite frankly, I didn't like how it changed my friends and classmates.
People started to put on a persona of being badass, cool, and 'hard.' It wasn't authentic to me and it changed the way my friends would interact together. What I didn't get at the time is how common that is when you're exploring and finding your personality at that age.
At the time I called it a mask, now I know it as the ego, but I started to see the false sense of self people would portray and something about it just didn't feel good.
Because I chose not to go along with the emerging culture, I began to feel lonely. People didn't listen to me, ask me things, seek to understand me - and they'd talk a lot behind my back. Regardless of how curious I was to speak to them, understand them, and sure, challenge them at times about their choices, I felt it was always a one-way street.
It wasn't long before I went from feeling 'cool' and accepted, to feeling like and being treated as a complete outcast. And it's weird looking back because I wasn't mean, the class bully or anything like that. I was the guy who wanted everyone to play together, be liked and on the same team!
Thanks for reading Joe Martino! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
This experience continued throughout high school. There are many more details, but I'm sure you get the general point by now. But by the time college years came around, I felt like it was a fresh start, and even though I had become very quiet and shy around groups from that experience, I was eager to meet new people.
Fast forward a bit and I found myself beginning to read books about the ego, the subconscious mind, and how to navigate personal change. I met a friend and mentor who took me through many sessions that helped clear away old subconscious programs and stories. I felt insanely empowered and unstoppable. Plus, now I knew how to do the work on myself very easily if something else were to arise.
This was in 2009, and over the next 8 years, things were smooth. I rarely ever felt unheard or misunderstood. While people may not have always understood me, it didn't bother me one bit, and I could see the people who truly appreciated whatever I felt inspired to share.
Then came a period in late 2017 where the biggest tech companies in the world were now descending upon alternative media. They literally crippled a business our team took 9 years to build. We went from having 15 employees and a thriving business, to somebody flipping a switch and your business is virtually gone. It's a shock, and devastating to almost every aspect of your life.
At the same time as that, myself and a partner in another business could not align with the intentions and integrity of what we were creating, and I so wanted out. It was a stressful time both financially and personally, and slowly but surely I found myself overwhelmed. Usually, I welcome change and love it, but with all that was changing at once, and how devastating the effects seemed, it was too much.
After a 3 year life and emotional beat down, I started to feel unwelcome, unaccepted, and again - unheard. On top of all that, it felt to me like so many people did not understand the underlying message of the work I was producing, and that's all I could focus on because, again, I built the story and my RAS was filtering out all information that told me otherwise.
In this, you start to feel paralyzed. You can't do anything right, you feel a lack of energy, and purpose feels lost.
If this experience resonates with you and you notice it in your own life, here is a simple step to begin the journey of reprogramming your RAS.
When you notice yourself going back into the story of being unheard and misunderstood by people all the time, pause. Feel your body, become present, notice your breath. Whatever you need to do to slow down for a moment and just be. After a minute or so, go through 4 or 5 examples of how this story is not true. Find the areas in your life where you are heard and are understood and let your brain know.
Play through the examples you remember. Tell the story in your mind. Feel it and recall what it was like to be heard or understood in those moments. In this, you are consciously affecting your subconscious mind in a way that helps break down a story that is coloring your life's experience in an inaccurate way that often causes suffering.
I offer this as a simple solution. It can be helpful to research this type of work further or perhaps work with somebody, but I wanted to provide something that can be very powerful as this is what I did to rid this habit a couple of years ago.
I also wanted to share something inspiring. Back in 2019, during one of the deeper moments of feeling like shit about all of this, my wife Ruby wrote me a letter that inspired this article and sharing. I wanted to share it with everyone because it resonated with me and was a great reminder to stop, take a breath, and reassess.
To the Unheard:
I know your voice and heart are growing tired, your spirit broken, and the moments where you see your purpose are fleeting..
But there’s so much you can not see when your head is down, feeling somber and purposeless.
What my eyes see when you’re not looking:
Someone new found you today.. their face lit up and their heart felt full.. they’ve found someone who speaks their language, understands their views, and carries the same values - who just GETS IT and THEM. They didn’t think it possible, but HERE YOU ARE, providing them hope and helping them envision a future they knew they wanted but didn’t believe was possible. They hear what you have to say, and are excited to listen - with fresh ears and an eager mind, happy to have found your perspective they begin to dive deeper, and tomorrow they are more aware because of it.
Someone else has had a rough year, and with everything going on they didn’t know what to believe - so they began questioning. It’s been months, but they’ve regained their faith in humanity and see the world differently now - because of You. You see, they’ve fallen upon your work and finally found a voice that doesn’t shove beliefs down their throats, but relays facts and lets them discern what’s real. They feel valued, heard, and uplifted - grateful that someone out there cares about so much that they’ve made it their mission to aid in their personal and our collective evolution. They may not know it yet, but this is the start to something completely transformational.
Then there are the ones who have been following you for years. The die-hard loyals that feel more like family than anything. They’re the ‘regulars’ that over time you have met or spoken to and become close with - they see your struggles and feel your pain, but most importantly they see You and value your work because they understand. You helped them through a rough patch, you held their hands whilst taking their first steps into the unknown, you reawakened them after a lifetime of slumber and in return when you were pushed down, they helped you up time and time again because they know you’d do the same if ever the opportunity or need. Your voice is a beacon of light to them, and in return, they follow you to the ends of the internet - knowing you are not there to lead but to show them the path.
Every day you awaken and every night you lay your head, a voice is telling you that you are unheard, irrelevant, and falling behind. This voice grows louder and now your days are filled with a belief that is weighing you, and your nights hold a hovering limit that you did not try to surpass.
This voice that you’ve carried has begun to crush your spirit and silence you - little by little, making you question yourself and your creations, making you believe that success is that en masse and that without the world watching you may never truly help humanity..
And I’m just here to tell you: that voice, is wrong.
The voice in your head that fills your life with dread is but a story which needs to be rewritten. Because it is YOUR Voice that needs to be heard.
As you question what the point to all of the hours, months, and years poured into work that ‘no one’ sees.. there are thousands finding truth and themselves in your words.
It is in your character, your heart, your message, and your desire to help the collective that you have already helped so many. For every ‘someone’ that finds you is led down a path of discovery, and that fire you’ve ignited is like a torch passed onto others on their path.. slowly, but surely, setting the world ablaze.
I could go on for eons discussing the battle between ego/the mind and the Soul. But will just say for sake of knowing you know - the falsities playing on loop like a broken record in your head are solely doing so because they are threatened by the reality that your truths are so much more powerful. The only way to disempower You is to make you believe that you have none - and in doing so, your creations halt, you have no drive to bring your visions to life, you feel more and more lost and less and less YOU. You must remember, trust, and BELIEVE that your message holds more weight than any story your mind could ever tell you.
Remember that from infancy you saw this world differently. Never did you succumb to the external validation nor allow your mind to take the wheel - no matter how hard it became. In your teens you knew you had it within you, as you know we all do, to change our world for the better. And though times are trying, it’s time to shake yourself awake from the chains of self-loathing and doubt. This story has played like a rerun of a show you’ve grown tired of.. it’s time to change the channel and reawaken that little boy who knew any and everything was possible and who did not allow the critics, trends, or world to tell him any different or change him in any way. You are so special because you’ve always believed and have always been You - do not let anything take that away, not now - not ever.
It’s always been within you, as it is now, to cultivate something extraordinary and create a real shift on this planet - and whether you believe it or not, the truth is the world is ready and waiting for you to stand tall, lift and hold your head high knowing that this is what you are here to do.
And as you do, there will be those who will cheer, those who will boo, those who are grateful, and those who cast doubt - but in the end, it is about those who hear your call that change their lives and those around them because of you and your work. Focus on and remember these people, however many or however few..
For it is not in the masses that Your voice needs to resound.. but in the many that your voice inspires individually that will ripple onto the mass - as with any true altering frequency.
Know that what you broadcast is different, deeper, of higher purpose, and in return harder to hear and come to - like a dog whistle to the ones here to awaken oneness consciousness, your voice calls to those who are ready to tune in to that frequency - and therefore it is in that depth and consistent tone that you, collectively, will change the world.
All this to say, it may not be heard across the globe at first, but to those who do hear it, you have our attention and We Are Listening.
For it is in the unheard that we believe in something deeper.
I love you. Release all fears, doubts, limits or restraints - Remember Who You Are.✨