A development in my life that I cherish is understanding and acknowledging the human need to feel seen. I take it as a significant thing as I observe its impact on human interpersonal relationships.
Whenever I find myself in my favourite cafe, the courtesy exuded towards me by some of the staff emboldens my belief in the merit of seeing people with the eyes of respect. One staff member recently confided in me how she feels pleased when I greet her using her name. Now that is something so basic that it defies logic that something as simple can make people happy! I could deduce, though, how much it means to an individual if they feel seen and heard.
A funny and ironic contrast is how people feel when they are left “seen” on social media.
A few years back, some neighbours who shifted to the block where we live ended up connecting even the former residents just because of their kind acknowledgement of people’s presence. I have seen how my mother feels when even they greet her with warmth. A simple yet profound cue of how simple things matter so much.
I recall some of my visits to a childhood friend’s home. On one occasion, his father took us on his scooter for an ice cream treat at Mother Dairy. This incident happened over fifteen years ago. Yet, I felt joy recalling it even as I was twisting in the Matsyendra Asana this morning. I am no longer in touch with that friend, and it has been a long, long time since I saw the friend’s father, yet his kind, smiling face is still firmly etched in my subconscious. I would have had innumerable ice creams since then, but none perhaps as remarkable as that because the kid me needed that.
I remember this technique of making people seen was employed by one of my theatre teachers and colleagues. I noticed how she gave her time and energy to students (mainly after a successful stage show) made people really happy. The way some people like yours truly felt obliged towards her for her attentiveness is all the compelling proof I can share to substantiate my point.
I can keep on writing more examples like:
- That mentor whose sweet and kind voice itself can melt even the hardest heart.
- My maternal grandfather who brought me ‘Crackle’ every evening when I visited him.
- That Nurse ‘aunty’ who had such warmth and kindness in her eyes whenever she looked towards me.
- Or say in popular culture the indelible impact of a character like Ted Lasso.
I see all these people whose examples I quote as charitable individuals. We speak and give a lot of attention, for good measure, to the hunger pangs of the stomach. However, another essential hunger that needs acknowledgement and validation is the human need to feel seen and loved. No matter who you are, even if you’re God, we are all looking to feel love. In the Vedic context, Krishna is seen as the Supreme God who is an embodiment of love. A divine entity who gives love and is only pleased by the offering of love.
Unfortunately, we often underplay the importance of this kind of charity. While the need to contribute via resources, money, food and services is essential, there can be a solid case to address people’s hunger for love and attention.
My personal game-changer is to learn about my own need to feel validation, feel seen and heard. That makes it easier for me to recognise when the condition becomes a compulsive addiction that has the potential to manipulate or be manipulated by others. Additionally, it makes me reiterate the importance of bringing in self and divine love to keep my love tank full.
The idea of this kind of charity is an attempt is to create a culture of respect and human dignity.
‘There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.’Mother Teresa
Here’s a question and reflection for you, dear reader:
What makes you feel seen?
Reflect on the moments in your life when you feel acknowledged and valued. Share with your loved ones about it or me if you feel like it.
Thank you for reading until the end of the piece. If you liked what I wrote, do share your views. God bless you with a lot of self-validation, compassion and love.