‘I Know Exactly How You Feel’ is a Scam Statement
No two emotions are the same.
Not the Anger you felt 2 days ago, nor the one anger you felt 5 minutes ago.
Not the joy you felt 10 minutes ago, nor the joy you felt a minute ago.
Yet, the widespread belief is that a second person would know exactly how you feel in a given situation.
In any conversation, the other person only has a representational understanding of the scenario being presented. But never truly an understanding of how the situation is making you feel.
I never posit ‘I understand how you feel’ nor do I ever attempt to say that I know what you are going through.
Reality is a miscreant that wears a different face in front of everyone.
We all have different depths of view; different sensitivities and different mental architecture to the events of the world. We draw on a plethora of inputs- internal, external, or from the books we read, wisdom nuggets from family members, friends we talk to, or the podcasts that whisper in our ears. Yet, it is not the same for everyone. Each one of us may read the same book, listen to the same podcast, follow and learn from the same leaders, and still have completely different takeaways.
I understand how you feel, is instead- I understand how I am perceiving what you are saying or texting, and I understand that you are experiencing an emotion à cause d’event.
Even if in a particular situation the second person experiences the same emotion, the extent and impact will be different.
The experience will elicit a characteristically different response.
A very common response to ‘I understand how you feel’ is a cry ‘No, you do not; you cannot!’.
“You do not comprehend the depth of what I am feeling”
How can anybody?
The true extent and meaning conveyed in a broken, fake-smiling state will hardly do justice to the emotion and even if the listener is a skilled poet- the message is amiss.
For example: ‘J’ had been unemployed for a year and recently lost someone close in her family. She found and got hired at a job recently, only to be let go 6 months in.
She shares her plight with 'K’. K went through something similar recently but he places higher importance on love, friendship, and his health. Although he understands what J is going through, he believes jobs come and go and does not truly understand how deep the cut is for K- for she values job stability much more- especially in light of recent events.
K can be empathic towards the current troubles J finds herself in, but cannot posit that he knows exactly how she is feeling.
Instead, a simple 'How are you?’ has a better chance of reaching beyond the fog.
With different weighed importance being placed by individuals on varied elements in the events of life, saying ‘I know exactly how you feel' reads a bit like: ‘Want to lose weight fast?: We know of the exact secret ingredient that you need.’