Looking through others’ eyes


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
Looking through others’ eyes

I heard this poetic line - 'Looking through the eyes of the other' - while training as a psychologist. It made sense that in order to understand, connect to and heal people you need to see the world from their perspective. I'm still in the process of learning.

Understanding the other person from his perspective has tremendous value; it can start a relational and transformational process in anyone. Once a person feels empathic connection he becomes strong and trust develops. This helps him undertake a deep journey within and return resurrected, as it were. Having often wondered how best to look through the eyes of the other person, i've come across a few simple principles.

First, give up narcissism.
Till the time you are trapped in self-love and grandiosity, the other person's perspective will appear small or invisible. A couple engaging in rigorous spiritual practices once brought their son to me for treatment of temper tantrums. While they wanted to inculcate spiritual values in the child he was more interested in video games and toys. The parents found this objectionable and scolded him which led to temper tantrums. While the parents valued spirituality, the child did not, but his parents could not see his point of view. The child needed to play with toys at this point of time and as his parents had taken time to reach the stage they were in, he too needed his own time. By not seeing this, his parents were actually impeding his progress.

Secondly, cultivate emotional similitude.
Once, while working with bomb blast victims and overwhelmed by their pain, i began to think of ways to motivate them. However, nothing came to my mind except a sense of despair and helplessness. Then, with introspection, realisation dawned on why this was so.

I had begun to feel the way they felt. I finally shared my feelings with an elderly man who had lost all his family members and from his narrative came to understand how hard things were for him and said so. Upon hearing this, he hugged me tightly and wept. This was a transformational moment for him - and not the words of positive thinking i had been composing for days.

Thirdly, try to take pleasure in whatever the other person considers to be achievement.
If the other feels they have done well, rather than judging or quantifying the result, we should also celebrate it. When someone feels that people are acknowledging his achievement, talent blossoms.

Finally, offering the kind of emotional support needed by the other is crucial.
We may have good intentions to help the other person, but need to clearly figure out the kind of help the other person needs at a particular time.

There was this person who came to see me for psychotherapy but she rarely allowed me to speak. Frustrated, i began to think that probably she does not wish to be helped and therefore shuts me up. It took me a while to realise that it could be the other way round - although she had been coming regularly but also telling me that at this moment she does not wish me to speak but to just listen to her, the psychologist in me feels reluctant to give up notions of being of help; for she just wanted me to be there and listen. From that day, her need came before mine and she started changing. Indeed, it is important to look through the eyes of the other.

The writer is a clinical psychologist.

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