Welcome to my final extract from An A-Z for your life, discovering and revealing who you are today. You can read the chapters for X,Y, Z in the book at your own pace.
Sometimes it is not simply who we are and how we are but what other people make of us. Here I want to talk about being a witness to others, and being seen by others. The term is used in religious and legal circles but I am using it in a therapeutic way.
It’s about really seeing another as we witness their life. It is also about being seen by others as they witness our life. What is it like to be seen in our happiness or sadness, joy or frustration? Similarly, what is it like to really see others close to us go through the range of experiences and emotions that make up their life?
Before I became a counsellor I cannot say I was particularly conscious of this. I now know how powerful it is to witness others in their pain, for example, and to be seen with my feelings. We like to know that we are not alone and that people see that we are alive.
It’s healthy to be heard and seen when we are struggling, and perhaps celebrated with when things are going well. Our peers may be in different situations and that’s where understanding, love and kindness come in. But the challenge is to witness to others when life is difficult for them. This is delicate and important. If you are having a difficult time it is made even worse if others see your difficulty and ignore it. This ignoring of your pain is like another blow, saying that your pain does not matter.
Maybe we could recognise the daily struggles of those close to us, and how bravely they deal with their challenges. A compliment from us would let them know that we see their courage and vulnerability and admire them for it. By witnessing to them we are saying “yes it is real, you are not dreaming”.
How do you feel when others witness you, in your joy or pain? Share your thoughts below.
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