It has been suggested that my sister is a “loser magnet”, attracting leeches, bums, users, hangers-on, and what her shrink most recently described as predators. I asked her how she felt about that label and she said it’s not that she attracts them, she just somehow brings out the worst in people. Now that couldn’t be further from the truth – what she has, in addition to the aforementioned magnet, is this incredible capacity for seeing a kernel of goodness in the most wretched of humans. Her fuse is endless. She has increased the biblical multiplier for forgiveness exponentially. She is the Queen of second, third, four hundred and ninety-nine chances.
That is quite a gift, that seeing something special in someone they cannot see or that they used to see before the cataracts of criticism blinded them to their uniqueness. Except of course when what we think we see was never there to begin with. It took me almost six years to surrender my first husband because I spent our entire relationship trying to get back to the magic of our first two weeks together. I “saw something” in him. At the end my counselor, weary of my “but whys?” (Why didn’t he love me, why was he self-destructive, what happened to the man I fell for?), leaned forward, grabbed my hands, looked me in the eyes and rasped in frustration, “Don’t you get it? You are shopping for your groceries in a hardware store! It just isn’t in him”. Oh.
That said, the knack for seeing the best in others, used wisely, can elevate people – willing people – in spectacular ways. I see good things in people they do not see in themselves, and I tell people what I see. I’ve had people tell me that I’m good at it. Good at what? Telling people they have talent, value, significance? That you noticed that they did a particularly fine job? What does that take other than vocal chords or a post-it note? No, suggesting some people are just naturally “good” at lifting others up suggests some of us get a get-out-of-kindness hall pass, and I’m just not buying that. Isn’t it second nature to human nature to give the very same things we crave? Surely there’s a universal need for a positive word, a pat on the back, and the whisper, “I see you”.
Fellow bravehearts, I read you, I hear you, I see you.
Have an excellent day,