“I just want you to see me!”
I have heard this innumerable times in sessions with couples. It’s generally spoken with a crack in the voice, that place where intense longing meets the despair of giving up.
The cousin of that yearning to be seen, is to be heard. One member of a couple I saw last week repeated this common sentiment: “I have to keep talking and raising my voice. If I don’t, you’ll never hear me.”
What a natural desire, to be seen for who we really are, to be heard, understood. We don’t even need to be agreed with, so long as someone takes the time to listen deeply, create a space to hear beyond the words to our deepest places. When our experience lands with those closest to us, we can finally relax. It’s like our existence has a big “X,” marked “you are here” in this ever-shifting world. I’m seen, I’m known, my people get me. My existence makes sense.
The heartbreaking paradox of this universal longing is that we all have a myriad of ways keep others from seeing and knowing us. Intimacy can sound so enticing, but every single one of us has had experiences of opening our hearts, only to meet scorn, criticism, rejection.
We start as babies gaping in wonder at the world, but learning how to keep ourselves alive in the face of its countless–and necessary–-rules of survival means toughening up, adding layers over our sensitive selves.
Intimate relationships can feel like we’re extracting precious metal from rock. It can take a whole lot of heat to get through the defenses we’ve built up, then time and energy to further purify our beings, allowing our true beings to come to the surface.
To be seen.
To be known.
Here’s my 2024 challenge for you: Would you be willing for relationship to be the vehicle for your own smelting, extraction, purification? If so, there are very specific steps you can take. These aren’t one-and-done; if you’re going to bring all of your golden being out for us to see, well, get ready to jump into an ongoing process of letting your old defense be (hopefully, gently) crushed. But your baby self is in there. Waiting to be seen, heard, known, and yes, even cherished.
AUTHENTICITY EXTRACTION PROCESS
Step 1. Celebrate yourself for surviving.
You’re here! You did it!!
Step 2. Notice when you’re in Reactive Brain.
Step 3. Notice when you’re in Creative Brain. This is YOU!
This is who you came in as, your essence. While you’re there (it probably will be temporary; you still have to survive in this three-dimensional reality), play, celebrate, enjoy yourself. And most of all: Let those around you SEE YOU.
Step 4. Put on your inner seatbelt.
Relationship (with intimate others, your inner world, maybe even your shoes) will inevitably trigger you into Reactive Brain. This is when the true extraction commences.
Step 5. Notice the sensations in your body.
You’re going to want to make up stories. (“This shouldn’t be happening.” “I hate them/me.” “If I was someone else/with someone else/living somewhere else this wouldn’t be happening.” And infinite others…) This will only delay the extraction process. Instead: The tightness in your jaw or chest or stomach is where the gold is stored. Feel it. Surf the energy. Let it get as big as it wants to get. That dense energy? It just needs to move out of your body to make way for who you really are.
Step 6. You’re back! You’re in Creative Brain! This is you, remember?
As you trust you, follow your impulses to move or sing or play or just be, look at others looking at you. They see you. And you’re adorable.