ASK ABDI: HOW DO I DEAL WITH THE DESIRE TO BE SEEN?
QUESTION: I read your book, Shadows on the Path, last week, and it has really been a great “stick pointing towards the moon". You talk about how most of our search for teachers is a deep desire to be seen. I have this very deeply. I feel that my pining over physical beauty and most of my relationships really put the spotlight on this desire. I truly want to learn, but I’m afraid that I’m just doing what I always do: looking for people so they “see” me. I love attention and being the “favorite one”. Sigh. What has happened lately is that I find someone (a healer, a friend, etc.) who does see me, and then “all of a sudden” their attention turns cold and I feel really shut out. I don’t think this is a coincidence. I also find myself performing for their love and attention. Anyways, my question is this: how does one best deal with this desire, instead of pushing it aside or pretending it’s not there?
ANSWER: The fact that you are so crystal clear about this need in your psyche is a great gift. Even more wonderful that you are aware that pushing it aside or pretending it is not there is not a real option. There is no one best way to do anything. You have to dig deep here and uncover the best that you can what precipitated this need in you at a young age. Some internal seeking would be beneficial.
As you are finding out, this need is a black hole that can not be filled externally. You have to teach yourself to let go of being externally referent, find your center, and from that place become internally referent. Like any addiction, putting our sanity and center at the mercy of external things and people is a recipe for disaster. You are not alone in this; of course, many of us suffer from this dysfunction. Whether we are people-pleasers or rebels, we are reacting to external events/moods/people. It is more rare for us to have done the arduous internal investigation to be truly operating from a place of internal truth.
So quiet down your mind a bit, learn to tolerate the feeling of not being seen/loved/being the favorite one. You can tolerate it if you give yourself a chance to do so. That can be a good place to start. Remember that starting or being in any relationship where we are trading our honesty and truth for the passing feeling of being special is dishonest and a recipe for disaster. Start by being in relationship with and loving this stranger you call your self. Have a date with yourself, buy yourself some flowers, make yourself a nice meal, and woo yourself the way you have been trying to beg for the love of others. Try that on for size.