I promise, it’s not my intention to tell you about all the weird shit I do, but well, it’s often a good way to illustrate a point. So, on we go!
This past weekend, I went to an event called Tantra Speed Date. (Ok, I know you probably associate the word tantra with the likes of Sting and his ability to have sex for days on end, but it wasn’t about that! Fundamentally, tantra is about connection.) So, there we were, 20 men and 20 women, paired up in activities to find connection.
In the first exercise, we were asked to share gratitudes with our partner, taking turns. Now, I’m grateful for a lot of things. The sunshine. The beauty in my life. Coffee on my lips every morning. My kid. Etc, etc. etc, blah, blah, blah.
Why the blah, blah, blah, Rachel?
Well, these things are all true. And they may have been useful to share with him if my sole interest were in letting him get to know me, but I also wanted to get to know him over more than hearing about how he was grateful for the sun and coffee and his kid, or whatever.
So, the first thing out of my mouth was, “I’m grateful for your steadiness.” He looked surprised. Then he returned a gratitude directed at me, “I’m grateful for your easy smile.”
I volleyed again, “I’m grateful for your willingness to play.” And so on and so forth for the remainder of our time together.
I’m not going to lie, this was a fairly intimate act with a complete stranger. I saw him (and let him know that I did). In return, he saw me.
There’s a time to see, and a time to be seen.
Most of the women I know are really good at seeing others, for appreciating them, and finding the value in places no one would even think to look.
But, the honest-to-goodness truth is also that most of the women I know could, ahem, use a little practice at being seen.
They want to receive compliments, but feel wildly uncomfortable accepting them gracefully. They want to be acknowledged, but when they are, they question the validity or the source of the acknowledgement. Deep down, they know they are skilled and talented and smart, but at the end of the day, struggle to share what they already know to be true about themselves: that they are all of those things and more.
They can’t see what everyone else sees in them. You can’t see what everyone else sees in you.
When you don’t let yourself be seen, you miss out on an amazing gift.
Love. You miss out on the connection and empathy and compassion and strength and community.
You miss out on knowing something deep in your bones: that whatever you are going through, however you feel, whatever you need…none of those things can ever shake that you are lovable and loved.
But, you gotta let it in.
There can be all the love in the world floating around you, but you won’t feel it if you don’t let it warm you like the rays of the sun. (Look at me, getting all poetic! But really, if you don’t know what I mean by let it in, that’s what I mean…let it penetrate the layers of your skin.)
How do you do that if you don’t know how to do that? You listen, and you say, “Thank you.”
If you do one thing today, that’s all I’d wish for you. To let the love that already surrounds you into a place where you really, truly feel it. (Ok, gag. I mean, it’s true, but I also understand that it’s a little on the flowery side of things. I promise to be more of a hard-ass next week, ok?)