The Universal Need to be Visible to Others

I have a need (like all of us) to be seen, heard, and acknowledged. So, what can we do with this primal need when it comes to relationships?

Looking deeply at myself in relations with others, I am wondering if it might be unrealistic to expect to feel seen when the other party is triggered. It is unfortunate and it is a trigger in and of itself as we all want to be seen in relationships to counteract how invisible we might have felt as children. However, if one partner is upset, the last thing we can ask of them is to look at us and our problems first.

The reason we might not see others when we are in fight or flight (protection mode) is because we have to see to ourselves (self-care). Nobody who is in touch with their authenticity will take care of another person’s needs when they are in an emotionally wound-up moment (unless it’s an extenuating circumstance). When we see people in physical agony, do we ask them to help us with a physically laborious task? Of course we don’t. So, then why is this any different when it comes to emotions?

Many of us might want to be seen by our friends even if they are down. It’s how we might have felt as children. When our parents were stressed, we had to go without the proper attention we needed as kids. This might have left us wounded, so as adults, it can be painful to not feel seen by our friends. At the same rate, our expectations need to be realistic. Feeling into the emotions that surface when we are unacknowledged can help a lot. Be honest with your friend about how you feel without resorting to shame-blame tactics. If the emotions aren’t accessible, journaling about it could provide some insight and be helpful. Or what about finding an enlightened witness to help us process this trigger?

There is no shame in feeling unseen. When we own it and feel it with our body or our tears or our rage (in a safe environment), we can eventually get past this so that in the future, our expectations of others can be more realistic.

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