One day I was in conversation with someone who suddenly burst out crying and said, “You saw me!” In that moment it touched me how infrequently that happens. I was also struck by how important it is to be seen. How often do we give that to others? How often do we allow others to see us so that it can happen for us? Think about how much time we spend putting up a shield that says, “Don’t look at me!”
We hide behind our clothes and hair. We hide behind silence, false bravado, lies, distance, withdrawal, and busyness. Then we wonder why we feel so isolated, lonely, weird, and misunderstood.
People are social creatures. We don’t just need each other for division of labor, resources, companionship, and sex. We need to see ourselves reflected back to us in the eyes of others. If we project a false face, how are we supposed to get a real image back? How are we supposed to get that feeling when we think, “You saw me!”
So how do you get this for yourself? You start by seeing the beauty and love inside other people. We are so conditioned to judge and see problems and differences because we live in such a competitive world. We’re bombarded by advertising that tells us we’re too hairy or too smelly. We’re told that if we don’t have the best grades or wear the right clothes, we aren’t acceptable. And we believe it. So, we start to become self conscious of all our potential short comings and see them in others too.
Ooh, what a miserable way to live! It doesn’t have to be this way. What if we started from a place of gratitude, curiosity, and appreciation instead? What if, instead of defaulting to criticism and defensiveness, we approached people with, “Show me who you are in all your glory” and then opened our eyes to see it. If we did that, would they need to hide their faces? And if they felt safe with you, do you think you’d need to hide yourself?
Intimacy and connection starts with safety. When you give that to others, they are more likely to return it. It’s a win win. You get to be seen. They get to be seen, and everybody is encouraged to be authentic, real, present, and honest. Isn’t this what we are all looking for?