“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” Henry D. Thoreau may have written this statement to broaden our personal perspective but I am going to make a guess that the miracle he mentioned is to really know difference. Seeing is believing.
What difference would be made if we could see through each other’s eyes? I hope that instant would be filled with empathy which can make way for simultaneous kindness. That instant feels miraculous whenever it is experienced by both givers and receivers because both are creating space for the reception of difference and self.
I am unable to look at the world from the eyes of someone else but I can listen to how the world looks to someone else without interrupting their gaze. This is the closest to the Thoreau “miracle” as I can get. I get to see life through the eyes of my client while listening to how differently each of them moves through their world – and gets through the pain in their world.
Attending to the perspective of others without mine interfering with their worldview is a skill I learned in my Counseling and Guidance program. I am grateful for this skill every day because it opened my eyes first and my heart followed. William James wrote, “Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall inhabit.”
Listen with the intention of allowing others to share freely and safely without impeding progress or directing the pace or style of their story and hearts open. The peaceful presence you both experience may only last an instant but more of those instances between more people will make a big difference.
One Thing To Do: Listen to someone this weekend without internally narrating the right or wrong of the story. Listen to learn about how that person navigates their world.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.