Using Our "Feeling Eyes" to Build a Better World
As an undergraduate, I took a course in art education in which the textbook instructed us to use our "shape eyes" to perceive forms in the world around us for use in our visual art making. With practice, we can all learn new ways of seeing and interacting with the world around us. Now, as a therapist, I am inviting us to use our "feeling eyes" to perceive events in our inner landscapes to help us craft the relationships and lives we desire. By using our "feeling eyes" to identify and express our inner experience and respond compassionately (versus with rejection or hostility), we can humanize ourselves and others. Thus, using our "feeling eyes" is a path to greater self love, intimacy, and a healthier world.
Many of us were never taught to use our "feeling eyes" but awareness of our inner experience is essential to our individual and collective wellbeing. This is because our relationships determine the quality of our lives. On a personal level, we feel closer when we share ourselves and are seen and known for who we are. On a political level, we are all safer when we are all able to see and know each other for the unique equal individuals we all are, free from the treat of violence. This ability to perceive ourselves and each other as distinct individuals, worthy of acceptance and respect is the basis of close and healthy relationships and thriving societies.
So, how do we use our "feeling eyes?" Try these focusing questions to turn inward, open to your experience, and meet what you discover there with love. Avoid the tendency to judge.
-How am I feeling emotionally?
-How am I feeling in my body?
-What is the quality of my thoughts?
-What is the quality of my breath?
-What might I be needing?
-What is a loving way to respond?
Using our "feeling eyes" to see each other opens up new worlds of possibilities based upon what's really going on, under the surface. Once we know how we're feeling, we're better able to share our experience, helping us get our needs met and hold space for others. Making assumptions is easy but often proves inaccurate and inadequate to finding the mutually beneficial solutions we want in the long term. What different outcomes might we reach if, instead, we used our "feeling eyes" to ask questions, such as how might she be feeling or what might they be needing, and believing and being generous with each other?
We know we aren't using our "feeling eyes" when we don't know or share our feelings and thoughts, when we tell others what they think and feel versus being curious with them, or when we react with hostility and rejection versus openness and compassion. The more comfortable we are with our own emotions, the more we use our "feeling eyes" with ourselves, the more available we can be with others. Thus, our individual self love is tied with our collective health.
The next time you're out and about, try looking at people with your "feeling eyes," see what you notice. Where might they be coming from? Where might they be going? What might they be feeling and thinking? The next time you're feeling antsy, try stopping and looking at yourself with your kind and compassionate "feeling eyes." It's a different, more loving way to observe and interact with the world around us, one that we can all learn. Right now, when tensions are high, mistrust is everywhere, and the urge to meet hate and violence with hate and violence is high, it just might be the hardest, most valuable, and loving decision we can make...
Let's center ourselves and our common humanity and create a better world together!