It’s surprisingly easy to be unaware of, or perhaps even embarrassed by, just how deep the human longing to feel like we matter runs. We all want and need to feel valued. Our mental and emotional well being depends on it.
As therapists we like to talk about this as being seen, heard, and understood. In order to feel valued we need the people that matter most to us to pay attention to us, to listen to us, and to show genuine interest in getting to know who we are. When we sense this interest and care it helps us both to discover and to be ourselves.
This plays out in any number of important relationships. Children need to feel appreciated in order to explore their capacities. Good friends help us sense our own depths. When we fall in love we want to know everything about the person we’re falling in love with and we revel in that same level of interest returned.
Understanding this about human nature is vital for effective therapy. It is an important part of what makes therapy healing.
Knowing that we are seen, heard, and understood by our therapist allows us to explore aspects of ourselves and our lives that we would normally shy away from examining or feel uncomfortable sharing with another person. It is particularly powerful when something we have previously held as unaccecptable about ourselves is seen, heard and understood with compassion, wisdom, and care.