I just spent a few moments watching my youngest son, who is two years old. He was hanging from the piano and trying to pull himself up to reach the tape measure I had placed there. As I was observing him I couldn’t help but smile and consider how blessed parents are. Here I was watching my son, so full of unhidden pleasure and happiness. It led me to think about how we often-times fail to really look at people and see who they are.
When we are around other people I think we tend to mix up who that person is, with their actions. Now, actions can be a reflection of who a person is, but they are not the motivation of who a person is on the inside. I notice this when I come down hard on one of my kids for doing something I think is particularly foolish. As I am spewing fire I sometimes notice the look in their eyes and I remember that it is a human being I am talking to. A human being with wants, desires, motivations, dislikes, shame, trust, etc. At times I also have to slow down when my wife and I are having a disagreement, and intentionally take the time to consider who she is on the inside. I might be angry with her because she said something insensitive, but is she a person who typically seeks to say insensitive things? No, she isn’t. It goes without saying that when I take the time to “see” her, what I am feeling becomes less harsh and I do a better job of helping to resolve the conflict.
I also notice a deeper sense of love and compassion when I take the time to “see” who a person is. Perhaps it is just me, but generally speaking I tend to see a person for what they are showing me at that instant and I respond accordingly. It isn’t until afterwords that I stop to consider the encounter. This inevitably leads to me having to apologize in many cases for something I have said in response. What if I could consider the person for who they are on the inside while the encounter is taking place? For one, I would probably need to apologize less often. As if that isn’t reason enough, I would also hurt the feelings of the other person less often. I wouldn’t cause them to feel bullied, left out, or inferior…all things my forceful personality tends to do.
I want to be more mindful of a person’s history, environment, personality traits, weaknesses, strengths, and motivations. That way I can respond to and generally interact with them in a way that enriches their life. I know these enlightened interactions would also help me as well, so there is a degree of selfishness involved. The bulk of the motivation behind my thoughts on this is the concern that I be a person who makes the lives of those around him a little easier. I want people to feel understood and cared about, and I think I can help that by “seeing” them more clearly and improving the way I respond to them.
Just my thoughts, please feel free to share your own.