In the coaching class I am taking, we did an exercise where a small group of people looked at you—really looked at you—and called out what they saw in you. It was an odd experience to sit and be seen, especially as some of the descriptors resonated deeply. There were a few that made me wonder, “How do you see that?” I, for one, would not use the word “fun” to describe myself.
Similarly, a friend gave me a thank you note a few weeks ago and called me “inspiring.” I laughed a little when I read it because you generally don’t tell people you’re close to that they’re inspiring. I think it's a word saved for those we can put on pedestals or the folks just distant enough from us that we can look up to them. I carried the card in my purse for about a week because it amused me to think about it.
Lauren Bacon talked about this topic of being seen in her Weekly Curiosity Experiment:
I celebrated my birthday last week, and got a shout-out from Mike on Twitter that made me feel not only celebrated, but seen. Isn't that one of the most profound gifts we can give one another – the gift of truly witnessing who we are at our best? It certainly inspires me to do more of that stuff and less of the rest.
The words we use to describe ourselves can be quite different from the words others would use to describe us. Maybe they are seeing something in us that we have denying. Something that needs to be acknowledged. Something that needs to be cultivated. It's powerful to see yourself through someone else's eyes.
So I’ll end with the same questions Lauren asked:
- When was the last time you felt truly seen?
- What qualities were mirrored back to you?
- How can you generously and kindly bear witness to others' gifts this week?