“I see you.”
“This is what you mean to me.”
“This is what I wish for you.”
It started last week with this post on Facebook:
“I feel safe opening up to you… You’re like my therapist.”
“You express my thoughts better than I can.”
“100% hell yes! Thank you for picking up on that!”
“That’s a really good question.”
“You make me want to be a better person.”
I thought of the last one first, as that may be the most meaningful compliment I’ve ever received. Both the compliment and the person who gave it mean so much to me. I took a few minutes to think of other meaningful compliments, ones that stick with me through the years, that hold me up. From the examples above, a pattern emerged: They make me feel the most seen. My highest goal in any encounter, and certainly in all ongoing personal and professional relationships, is to connect–the more deeply, the better. When you express that you feel seen by me, then I have succeeded. I feel reciprocally seen by you and it nourishes me, tightens our bond, and keeps me engaged, continuing to honor this core value in all encounters and relationships, despite obstacles, setbacks, and cultural messages of relational futility. It is the ultimate virtuous cycle.
These expressions are not just compliments. They are feedback to be processed, integrated, and then manifested, evoking more cycles, all on my iterative and adventurous journey toward my best self.
Ozan Varol may be one of my favorite people. This is my 24th post that references him or his work. I respect and admire his growth mindset, humble confidence (which I think is slightly different from confident humility), and commitment to relationship. Even as his following grows ever larger and faster, he still replies to all of my emails (I try to keep them concise and relevant).
Ozan’s second book, Awaken Your Genius, is out today, wooo hoooooo! It was the first book I ever read on my phone, an advance copy, and I loved every ‘page’. What he offers:
“You’ll learn how to discard what no longer serves you and discover your first principles—the qualities that make up your genius. You’ll be equipped to escape your intellectual prisons and generate original insights from your own depths. You’ll discover how to look where others don’t look and see what others don’t see. You’ll give birth to your genius—the universe-denter you were meant to be.”
What I got, and will reread to get again and again as needed:
Reassurance, validation, confidence, comfort, and moral support.
I wrote him a long email listing what it all means to me, and what I especially appreciate about his work. In particular, “I hear you in my head as I read and it feels more informal, more fun and casual, and also no less credible and earnest than the Ozan I know. Did you feel like you were writing *even more as yourself* this time than last? It feels that way to me.” He replied, “100% hell yes!” (see above), that that is exactly what he has been telling people, and it was the best thing I read all day.
Friends, I am still binging romance audiobooks. Shane East is still my favorite narrator, and I found his fan group on Facebook, OMG! 😀 What a fun, open, and loving community! Last month Shane offered to send personalized audio and video messages to fans. I ordered one for Friend, to whom I introduced the genre and Shane’s work some months ago. She bought me his cafe mug when I would not splurge on it for myself, and I thought she’d like a little uplift recording from Our Gentleman, as we Shaneiaks call him. Then I decided to get myself a message for my 50th birthday. In my written request, I summarized what these books have meant to me as a middle aged, perimenopausal, physician mom of a college freshman and a high schooler, and a brand new consumer of romance novels.
I listed my favorite novels and the patterns I saw emerging among them:
“–The heroes are protective of the heroines–I am the eldest of 3 girls and have always wished for a big brother, or someone to be protective of me…
“–Many of the heroes have strong relationships with family, maternal figures in particular… I think there is something in there about core values, loyalty, and secure attachments that I find really comforting in these novels… And maybe I relate to the mom characters, too, since my only son just moved 1700 miles away?
“–The romantic relationships are often unconventional. They validate my desire to question and challenge social norms that stifle the wide diversity of human relational needs, including sexual ones, and how they may evolve over a lifetime. These novels help me stay out of the ‘shoulds’ and recognize that health and happiness in any given relationship are defined by the people in it, much more than society’s gaze on them.
“Finally, I really value how romance novels help me understand myself and my own relationships better, all while letting me escape and live vicariously…”
The descriptions flowed out of me spontaneously, and I felt relieved having articulated it all. I had to think at the end about what I wished for him to say in the recording, finally landing on this request:
“Shane, maybe your message to me can just be a personal response to this? I would love to hear how you feel, knowing this about a (listener), knowing how your work resonates with someone so personally, knowing that your voice and your characters hold someone up through their own personal challenges and inner work? You are a celebrity, someone I am unlikely to ever know personally, and yet you occupy an important and unique place in my life experience. How does that feel for you? Thank you for what you do!”
Audio messages dropped this past weekend, and Friend and I were both floored at their utter realness, the easy and loving way he responded to my requests (I ended up purchasing a second one for myself, a reading of one of my favorite writings since high school, Desiderata by Max Ehrmann). He expressed what he wrote in his tweet, saying how meaningful his work is because of the feedback he gets regularly about its impact on his audience. He addressed my personal reflections with compassion, humor, and personal anecdotes of his own. Once again, I felt seen. On top of that, I actually felt loved–not in a romantic groupie-rock star way, but rather in the way I understand agape love–in shared humanity and a deep desire for us all to thrive, manifesting in our work and relationships. As I sat with the feeling, absorbing, soaking, basking in the warmth, all I wanted was for that sense to be visited back on Shane tenfold–for him to be happy and well, surrounded by love. So I wrote a message on his website telling him so. I bet his server is on the verge of collapse from all the feels via email.
The most meaningful feedback: I see you. This is what you mean to me. This is what I wish for you.
How many different ways can we gift this to one another today?
Beautiful. Truly, beautiful.
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Thank you so much Suzi!! 🙏🏼🥰🌟
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