This is me. This is how two strangers saw me when they were meeting me in a special way.
It was the very first exercise of the very first day of the trainings.
I was so brave to have made it all the way from Stockholm in Sweden to Ojai in California, but I felt so scared to go into this unknown space on my own.
When I was coming in, I had my line ready: “Hi, my name is Olga. I am from Russia but I live in Sweden. I work at a university in Stockholm”.
If someone would have asked me further questions about who I was I could perhaps tell them that I was a very smart person, was always one of the best students in my class and even received a gold medal when finished high school; that I was very independent, reliable and organized, very analytical and rather creative; that I was valued by my colleagues but was somewhat unlucky in love; and yes I was a dedicated Mom of an amazing little guy.
Luckily, I didn’t have time to present myself beyond my first line – the trainings were starting. After a brief introduction, the participants were invited to do the first experiential activity. Everyone got himself/herself a partner. We were supposed to be looking at each other. In a special way. Like we would go to a museum and appreciate a Work of Art. No talking allowed.
So we did.
After several minutes of communicating in this way (that might seem as an eternity if you are used to talking most of the time), we wrote down on each other’s paper what we saw and felt. Still no talking. We switched partners and did another round of looking at another person as a Work of Art. Then again, we wrote down on each other’s paper what we saw and felt.
This was what two people whom I knew nothing about but names and who didn’t know me either saw in me:
Pretty far from my list above, isn’t it?
My list above presented an overview over my roles and main qualities that had been necessary to successfully keep those roles up on stage for a long time. In other words – my personas. So often we define ourselves by what we do and what we have. So often we walk through life where persona meets persona and façade faces façade.
Recently, I worked with a couple and I asked them what they would like to feel and experience in their relationship. To be understood was one of the top things on the list.
This is such a great gift to be understood and to be seen – as we are. We are so much deeper than our roles and our duties. We are so much more beautiful and interesting than our old stories. So try on this way of looking at yourself and others. And let others see you as you are.