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Working Hard to be Seen

In an ideal world, you would grow up with a sense of being seen and embraced for the multidimensional unique person you are.  But your parents, doing the best they could, had blind spots.  Perhaps they saw and embraced you when you were being tough and strong, but ignored you when you feeling sad.  Perhaps they celebrated your physical achievements, but paid no attention to your artistic expressions.  Perhaps they only saw you in as far as your actions met their needs.

Most likely your experience was a complex mixture.  This mix of responses from your parents and others and your own unique constitution came together to give you a sense of the world.  You may now have particular limiting beliefs about how and under what conditions you will be seen and celebrated.

One common example is imagining that you will only be seen and celebrated if you achieve some particular goal.  Setting and achieving goals is not a problem in and of itself.  It is when achieving a particular goal is held as the only way to meet a need that a sense of desperation, obsession, or painful longing arises.  In this mind state you have blinders on and can't see other ways of meeting that need.

Part of our work in mindfulness and NVC is to notice these states of mind, uncover these limiting beliefs, and replace them with a flexible and expansive approach to meeting needs.

You can begin to expand your relationship to meeting the need to be seen by seeing yourself.  When in the reactive mind state described above, you tend to focus all your attention on that which is in service to the one goal.  By intentionally directing your attention to other aspects of yourself (for example, the way you gave listening to your neighbor, the full way you laugh at a joke, your ability to enjoy the quality of light at dusk, your sadness over your sister moving away, etc.) and embrace* them, you set the foundation for a new relationship to being seen.  As you see and embrace you in diverse ways, you will begin to share more of who you are with others, who then have the opportunity to see and embrace you in diverse ways as well.

This week take a moment each night before bed to notice and embrace all the ways you engaged your life that day.  During the day notice what you choose to share with others and what you leave out.

*For more specifics on embracing yourself and experiences, search my article archive for gems on self-empathy.

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2 Responses

  1. Apr 22, 2011

    Beautiful. I love the connection you make with mindfulness, thank you. Will share with new Israeli group of NVC practitioners on FB

  2. Jun 01, 2011
    Susun Cooper

    This is a topic that hits me right where I live, right now. I had skipped it earlier when I first received it on my email. I'm amazed how difficult it is for me to respond to someone who is coming from the space of "working hard to be seen." There doesn't seem to be any amount of attention I can give that is "enough." I have a lot of thinking to do to understand my part in this. Thanks so much for this thoughtful article!

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