Seeing and Being Seen:
Healthy Mirroring & our Need for Recognition
‘we need attention and we don’t usually know what it is in ourselves that we want attending to, but we know we want something from other people…’
Throughout our lives, in order to thrive, we need recognition from others - to be seen and related to in our uniqueness, capacities and vulnerabilities. We also hope to offer such experience to others. Yet such needs are not always freely acknowledged: we may feel shame about our longings for recognition or underestimate the nourishment of feeling truly seen. As a result these needs and longings are often pushed underground, complicating our acceptance and understanding of an essential part of our humanness.
On this workshop, we will devote a day to opening up this territory, and explore what might it mean to see and be seen in healthy, life-giving ways.
Acknowledging these needs in adulthood can be complex: we may believe we should be independent from what others think of us, or notice to our dismay that we hanker continually for recognition, admiration or attention. For some of us, the cost of this can be profound: we may betray our core for the sake of others' approval, or find ourselves unable to risk the failures involved in growth and learning.
This workshop offers an opportunity to look freshly and freely at these themes. It encourages us to explore what we feel we need or hope for in terms of recognition, drawing on the Self-Psychology of Heinz Kohut, who explored our developmental needs for mirroring, admiration, and affinity with others, and on the writing of AH Almaas, who has written extensively about ‘ordinary’ narcissism. We will also look at the insights of Carol S Dweck in Mindset, clarifying the impact of our fear of failure and the possibility of developing a healthier orientation to growth.
Acknowledging the presence of these themes can be deeply relieving. It can also help us understand distinction between inflated seeing and authentic recognition. This helps us move with a tenderness that neither inflates nor degrades us, but supports our intimacy with life.