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Use Your Eyes; Learn To See

photo by: Mario Pleitez

“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” -Ralph Ellison

The most powerful way to connect with another person is simply to “see them.”  When we build relationships, we are often puzzled at exactly how a connection forms.  Most of the time our relationships occur spontaneously, and we don’t have the first clue as to what actually happened.  Sometimes we deliberately want to form relationships (when we are networking, perhaps), and we want to know the best way to connect with people.  Our best clue is that people simply want to be seen for what they are, and not for what we “put onto” them.

Usually, when we have a relationship with someone (friendships, working relationships, romantic relationships) we spend some time judging that person (or some aspect of them) right or wrong, we agree or disagree with them, we label and categorize them, etc.  These responses are natural ways that we try to understand our world, but they are also detrimental to the quality of relationships we develop.

When you simply “see” someone, this person no longer becomes what you want them to be, but what they actually are.  (Well, they always were what they are, but you didn’t see them like that!)  Seeing someone means that you observe or interact with them without judgment.  An individual is made up of their unique feelings and thoughts, their perspective on life and their particular personality among other things, and all of these things exist with or without you .  To notice (and appreciate) these things about another is a gift you give to them.  You don’t expect anything from them, you acknowledge them as they are.

And everyone wants to feel that the way they are is exactly the way they should be. 🙂

Have something to say?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments!

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Tom Maurer | Simple and Spiritual April 14, 2009, 3:41 am

    Wow I love this post. This is so true but so incredibly hard to do. Because we are often spending more time judging whether a person provides any value to us rather than appreciating them for who they are as they are. I’d love to see if anyone has any practical tips.

    Tom Maurer | Simple and Spiritual’s last blog post..The World Isn’t Out To Get You

  • Sara April 14, 2009, 2:05 pm

    Amanda,

    This is a powerful post and it requires some real cogitating, as my grandpa would say. I agree that we need to see people without the filters we’ve been taught to employ, but, like Tom, I think this is hard to do, but that’s what I really liked about this article — it offers me a real challenge!

    Can I look at my family, friends, colleagues and really “see” them without judgments/filters? My first thought is that I need to identify my automatic filters because then I’m more aware when they appear. Are you planning a follow-up to this post? Well, you’ve certainly got me thinking. Thanks :~)

    Sara’s last blog post..Story Photo Challenge: What is this flower saying?

  • Sara April 14, 2009, 2:06 pm

    Amanda,

    It’s me again…I forgot to tell you that I like the photo you used with this post. It was perfect!

    Sara’s last blog post..Story Photo Challenge: What is this flower saying?

  • Keith April 14, 2009, 2:46 pm

    I am so impressed with this post! I really felt it in my heart. This is something I really desire to do and I feel I have improved a lot in this area. Still room for more growth though and I will welcome it. When I interact with people, I work to be ever aware of the fact that they are “who they are” and I am “who I am” and allow them the same thing I would like to receive and that is room to actually be who I am, with my view and my thoughts. I cannot say I do this perfectly but I am sure trying to get there. When I succeed at this it is an amazing feeling. I experience a real “freeing up” if that makes sense and I notice something of the same in the other person. 🙂

    Keith’s last blog post..Do You Believe?

  • Amanda Linehan April 14, 2009, 8:43 pm

    Hi Tom – Thanks 🙂 Maybe I should put a call out on this blog for readers to comment with practical tips for “seeing” others. I’d be curious as to what people had to say.

    Hi Sara – Thanks for your comment! Your “automatic filters” has me thinking now. I wasn’t planning a follow up, but maybe I will. Thanks for the compliment on the picture. To me, it seemed like something should be in the photo that wasn’t there – hence “invisible.” I thought it would be great for this post. 🙂

    Hi Keith – Thanks for your comment! “I really felt it in my heart” – this is one of the best compliments I could receive. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think that we don’t always think about the fact that people exist in and of themselves, without our approval or disapproval. But, I like the way you talked about keeping in mind “who you are,” while you keep in mind that they are “who they are.” Being able to really connect with our self can help us remember that other people have a self too.

  • Susan Pogorzelski April 14, 2009, 8:58 pm

    Amanda — what a beautiful post! Relationships, connecting with another person is one of the most beautiful facets of life, and sometimes the most confusing. While it seems we want the other person to be who they are, we sometimes tend to have high expectations of the other person (perhaps due to high expectations of ourselves?), thus our perception of them might be skewed. I think Tom has it exactly right — we ask “what can you do for me, why are you in my life” instead of just appreciating their being there, being them.

    It’s this part of your post that really struck a chord with me, however: “When we build relationships, we are often puzzled at exactly how a connection forms. Most of the time our relationships occur spontaneously, and we don’t have the first clue as to what actually happened. ”

    Honestly, all of my strongest relationships have occurred when I wasn’t expecting them and even now years later for older relationships, merely days for newer ones, I can’t quite believe how that relationship was formed. The details seem fuzzy, but then you begin to realize that the details may not really matter. It doesn’t matter how they came into your life, as long as they’re there now.

    And this: “To notice (and appreciate) these things about another is a gift you give to them” is wonderful as well…Because maybe it’s not just a gift you give to them, but one you give yourself as well.

    A beautiful post, Amanda — so well written and thought out, it truly gives me so much to think about. Thanks.

    Susan Pogorzelski’s last blog post..Why I Twitter, Why I Write

  • Keith April 14, 2009, 10:01 pm

    Yes, you are so right Amanda! We can get caught up in ourselves sometimes and forget that the other person has a “self” as well. I would love to see you follow up this article with another. 🙂

    Keith’s last blog post..Do You Believe?

  • Karen Chaffee April 15, 2009, 12:37 am

    You are right. “Seeing” someone as they truly are without judging yields many benefits. This allows us to recognize the potential, the good, the uniqueness in all people. On the other side of the spectrum, it keeps our assessment honest enough to also recognize any red flags or danger signals, which, unfortunately, also might be present.

    Karen

  • Daphne April 15, 2009, 9:01 am

    Amanda,

    This post comes at a good time for me, because I’m starting to agree or disagree, and use right or wrong thinking again. Thanks for the reminder to just see without judging. You’re so right that this is what we all want!

    Daphne’s last blog post..Attaining Spiritual Peace

  • Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching April 15, 2009, 1:41 pm

    Thanks for this post. What comes up for me when I read this is how different my approach to interacting with people has become in the past few years — I used to be interested in talking about some subject with them, like politics or philosophy, but now I have no interest in that at all — I want to know them, not their position about some issue. Talking to people is so much more rewarding with this approach I think.

  • Amanda Linehan April 15, 2009, 8:05 pm

    Hi Susan – Thanks for your comment. 🙂 I think you are absolutely right about giving a gift to yourself when you “see” someone. What you do for other people you also do for yourself, and, in fact, you may give yourself permission to simply be you as you see others for what they really are. Actually, I think the way that you treat others and the way that you treat yourself are woven together very tightly 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

    Hi Keith – I am positive I will do a follow-up post now. Keep an eye out 🙂

    Hi Karen – Oh yes, very good point – when we suspend our assumptions about people we can see the potential “good” and the things we may need to watch out for. Astute observation.

    Hi Daphne – Great! A reminder is sometimes all we need.

    Hi Chris – Yes, I agree. People are endlessly interesting if you let them tell their story. 🙂 I think I enjoy people more with this approach.

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