Photo by Max Jakob on Unsplash
By Maria Sylvester, MSW, CPC
I’m sure you know the feeling; that moment when someone says or does something that lets you know they completely see and get you. You feel recognized and acknowledged for what makes you quintessentially you.
It feels delicious, yes? A sense of aliveness and joy ripples gently through your body. Every cell tingles happily. It’s a moment of significance because you feel significant. At the core of our heart’s desire, we all long to be seen for who we truly are — for what makes us tick in all of our idiosyncratic magic and magnificence. It’s a fundamental human need. It’s a gift worth giving.
The gift of communicating that you truly see someone is, in my opinion, pure medicine for the soul. Both souls, actually. As the giver, you can relish in the pleasure of creating rapport that puts both parties on a wavelength of shared appreciation. As the receiver — the one seen — you get to bask in the warm glow of being known by another, perhaps without even having to explain yourself! Can you remember a time when you were cast in such a wonderful spell? The alchemy of a moment like this is both mysterious and life-transforming.
The gift of being truly seen can happen through many pathways — pathways as unique as each individual. When I was asking a few people about this, one person shared, “If I’m truly seen by someone, they’ll be able to take what they know about me and know how to respond without me having to constantly remind them of what my needs are.” Another said, “I feel seen when I can express a wide range of emotions and still be met with love, acceptance, and support.” Unconditional love and positive regard always deeply nourishes the spirit.
I myself have received the blessing of being beautifully witnessed in a number of ways. One friend reflected feeling “calm and grounded” in my presence. This offering meant a lot to me, because I strive to bring a calm and grounded self to my relationships. I was seen. Another friend referred to me as “a whisperer of goodness; a beacon of goodness.” Wow, right? (Thank you, M.R. — I treasure this memory.) You put into words my secret mission on the planet. Seen again. I danced a happy dance.
Recently, my husband pointed out how endearing it was to hear my foot tapping on the floor whenever I’m creating away at the computer. He knew by this sound that I was “in the zone.” So true, yet something I had never realized or appreciated I did. Interesting. Last example. Recently, a client said she experienced and valued my words as the “expansive, hope-infused words of a leader.” Hmm, I thought. She senses my energy! Seen again and smiling. Isn’t it amazing how we can come to even better appreciate ourselves through another’s eyes?
Let me just note that being recognized in a “this is me” kind of way is different than simply being “noticed.” To be noticed, pleasant as it can feel, is more of a by-chance, fleeting occurrence. We might notice, for instance, someone’s outfit, intelligence, or characteristic saunter. Noticing doesn’t necessarily communicate significance. When we let someone know that we really see them, it goes deeper; it endures and counts as much more. The warmth and glow lingers.
To give the gift of truly seeing another is to make a difference. A big difference. Too often, sadly, a person can wonder if they matter. When someone openly shares how they see us, or behaves in a way that lets us know they do, we light up inside. We feel even more of who we are… and who we are capable of becoming. We know, in that instant, that we matter. Feeling like we matter inspires us to grow, stretch, and live even more expansively.
One of the key components of my life coaching practice — an aspect I’ve honed and quite intentionally developed over the years — is the ability to really see my clients and communicate this back to them. They experience my seeing them as an invitation to further embrace and develop themselves. To take risks.
A person’s self-appreciation and self-recognition is greatly enhanced when another can mirror back to them, with respect and validation, elements of their character make-up that foster their unique presence in the the world. In other words, we remember ourselves through the caring, appreciative eyes of another. How exquisitely restorative is that?
“Sacred communion” is a term I use to capture the majestic power of rich, deep, meaningful connection that happens between individuals intent on authentically sharing themselves. During sacred communing, both parties make themselves vulnerable, opening the doors of their inner world to be better known and understood. They speak their truth. They spontaneously communicate what is alive in them. They share where they genuinely live inside of themselves. Powerful stuff.
Communicating in this way intrinsically fosters closeness and intimacy. How we connect is, in my opinion, always fueled by a deep yearning to be seen and heard — and to be understood. The ancient meaning of the word understand is to “stand under.” If we are standing under another’s experience, we are directing our awareness and perception there. We are gifting another our mindful attention. What we see is greatly enhanced, on multiple levels, for both parties.
To be truly understood can feel like a moment of pure triumph, yes? Hope rises. The interaction becomes a catalyst for further growth. This cultivating of meaningful connection, of sacred communion, of being seen, allows us be all the more human together. We reconnect with and celebrate the very best in ourselves. It’s what I consider the privilege of a lifetime.
Giving the Gift
So are you inspired? We long remember those who have seen us, yes? This is the gift of gifts! Let this article deepen your commitment to try and truly see those you cherish, or those you meet along the path. Lovingly reflect back to them how you feel in their presence. Perhaps share what you experience their energy to be as you listen to them or see them in action. Giving yourself in this way will be treasured. I guarantee it.
Maria Sylvester, MSW, CPC is a certified Life Coach in Ann Arbor, MI who loves empowering
adolescents, adults, and couples to live from the HEART of what really matters to them so that
they can bring their fully expressed, vibrant selves into the world. She has a special gift for helping
women reclaim their feminine power, and embrace their radiant, sensual, sexy spirits. Their lives
transform. They soar into their mid-life magnificence!