“Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival – to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.” Stephen Covey
When I read this I thought – wow, so very true! I also wanted to add to the list of psychological needs is the human need to be seen. To be seen for whom we really are. Not just visually seen, but our inner true authentic real self.
Working with a lot of clients who have experienced trauma to varying degrees, suffer the loss of one’s true self because the injury of what has happened to them has revealed how unsafe the world can be. I call this the psychological consequences of trauma and speak about not focusing on the traumatic event per say, but on the felt sense of loss of safety and self and all the defending and hiding that one does to protect one’s self in the aftermath. On one hand, this process is a brilliant exercise in human beings to fight for survival, but of course, in the long run a psychological and physical toll to the individual. The longer spent in this state the further hidden one’s true self becomes. So, how can we become seen. Through empathy. Covey then goes on to say: “Empathic listening is deeply therapeutic and healing because it gives a person ‘psychological air’. When you listen to another person with empathy, you give them psychological air.” This essentially is one of the cornerstones of therapy. To set the foundation for healing through connection (or better said, re-connection) of the true self. To help, guide, and instill in the self a solid sense of safety and empowerment. A sense of now. A sense of it is okay to be all of me. A sense of being in one’s entirety. A sense of belonging.