Recently I read that Maya Angelou suggested there are four questions that every human being unconsciously asks other human beings all the time.
Workmates, playmates, lovers, friends, bosses. We ask and are being unconsciously asked these 4 critical questions:
- Do you see me?
- Do you care that I’m here?
- Am I enough for you, or do you need me to be better in some way?
- Can I tell that I’m special to you by the way that you look at me?
And then, we make decisions (assumptions), and choices based on what we perceive to be the answer.
We will move closer, or move away. We will seek intimacy, or find distance. It all depends on what we assume the other person is telling us by their actions, words, gestures and expressions.
It makes sense why people love dogs so much. Dogs always answer these questions with a huge emphatic YES! (and a lot of tail wagging and squirming too).
It might also explain why parents often complain about how little their teenagers notice if they’re even in the room, or if they hear them — teenagers have perfected the art of pretending they DON’T see you and we humans do not like the feelings of not being seen!
I’m not suggesting you wag your tail and wiggle your body when you are talking to people, but you might consider putting down the IPhone when you partner walks into a room, or at least looking up from the TV or tablet in your hands to say hello. You might even consider smiling too.
‘Seeing’ someone doesn’t mean going over the top, gushy and breathy when you talk with them. It means, taking one second to really look them in the eyes. Taking a moment to pause and listen, attentively, to what they’re saying. A smile helps. As does touch, nodding your head in acknowledgement… There are countless ways to show someone you’re seeing them — ways we too often forget to employ in today’s plugged in, activity-charged pressure-cooker environments.
‘Seeing’ someone means making the effort to show you’re paying attention. It means showing love and affection through being loving and affectionate — again, you don’t have to go over the top. You just need to connect, show them you are truly present in their presence, and care about they’re being present too.
It means turning up, being real and being present with the people in your life.
And don’t worry about the dog feeling like he’s losing out on your attention. He’s going to love you anyway. He always does.