I’ve recently returned from a trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where I attended a workshop in which for the first time in my life, I felt truly seen.
Allow me to explain what I mean when I say “seen.”
American writer, mythologist, cultural anthropologist, and teacher Joseph Campbell explored thousands of stories told over the course of human history, across cultures and religions. In his first book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell identified a thematic process of personal and communal transformation that permeated all of these stories which he called “The Hero's Journey.”
Campbell described the Hero's Journey as occurring in a cycle consisting of three phases: The Departure, where the hero leaves the comfortable and familiar world and ventures into the darkness of the unknown; The Initiation, where the hero is subjected to a series of tests in which s/he must prove their true character; and The Return, in which the hero brings the blessing of their quest back for the benefit of not only their own life but to help serve the community and often the world. It is in this third phase that the community recognizes and acknowledges the discovered gifts inherent in the hero’s true character.
The individual returns home as an initiate turned hero that is seen and accepted by the community for his or her newfound gifts.
Being seen is a true validation of what we have thought might be possible about ourselves yet we weren’t completely sure and often doubted. This is what our brain does, to keep us safe, it self-doubts and berates so that we remain small and protected.
Each of us has a need to be seen, to be known, to be understood, and appreciated for who we uniquely are. In this fast-paced world, wrought with comparison and distraction, for many of us this is a rare gift.
Being seen validates us because we feel important enough to be recognized and acknowledged by another. This makes us come alive and motivates us to engage, contribute and persevere.
What I now know is that no matter how much self-work we do, until a mentor, coach, colleague, supervisor, teacher, family member, romantic partner, or soul friend, reflects back to us what s/he is seeing in us, it isn’t fully realized. It feels like this person can “read your heart” which helps awaken the inner light of your soul.
Even the act of paying attention to someone – by deeply listening, asking questions, and being present creates connection and allows someone to be seen.
To speak about my life stories as representations of my unique gifts and to be deeply listened to and acknowledged was powerful. Even more powerful was to hear from the teacher and each participant about what they experienced as “my medicine.” This felt life changing. I feel a renewed sense of purpose and intention that will facilitate my contribution to the world.
Ancient traditions around the world share the idea that each soul has an inner spark of life that grows by being seen, by being truly acknowledged and supported by others.
As we decipher our life learnings, and them translate them into our life calling, in order to bring our work to the world, we must first have the experience of being seen.
May we hold this sacred space for each other for the completion of our own hero’s journey.
I believe in you,
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I would love to hear from you. Share a time when you felt seen.
Please share your comments below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
It would be an honor to have you in my new Facebook group, The Expression of Our Unique Gifts. Here is the LINK.