Seen and Heard

Seen and Heard

To be seen and heard.  Very basic stuff.  Isn’t this what we usually experience?

If we had full presence and attention as an infant, when we were our most helpless and cute we were lucky.  Full-bodied presence for self and others is a discipline that requires dedication and self-study.  To be truly aware of you, I need to be aware of myself.  To recognize our individuality, our natural boundaries and needs.  I get peeved when an adult jumps in and replies for a child who is perfectly capable of answering in their own style and their own time.


In the therapeutic setting, there is a handy acronym to guide therapists in speaking.  WAIT or Why Am I Talking?  Unless it’s the small talk that can frame the beginning and end of a session, the therapist’s words are ideally strategic and purposeful.  Those words can be in the form of a teaching or story.  What counts is that they are in the service of the client’s needs not the helper’s.


In daily life, real presence can be hard to come by.  Communication can be driven by a person’s unattended needs and an assortment of distractions.  We’ve all been part of discussions dominated by one or two people.  We may have been those people.  And it’s already cliché to talk about people and their hand-held computers aka, the phone.  How can the person standing in front of you be quite as fascinating as the friends, celebrities and entertainment living in your device?  So this is a whole other level of inattention we’re living with.  Our brains are wiring to technology rather than each other’s brains much of the time.  Listening and responding to a partner, spouse, friend or child can be challenging.  It takes focus and a degree of selflessness to give the other priority.


The thing is, when you’ve been well attended to – seen and heard with generosity, you feel the difference.  You become more human.  It’s like sitting down to a tasty and nourishing meal rather than a snack on the run.  Perhaps with the growing daylight and the warming weather, we can spend more time listening, looking and thoughtfully responding to each other underneath our masks.  After all it takes more skill and demands our attention.
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