When You Want Someone to See You Differently

Do you see yourself a certain way? If you think about how you are as a mother, father, wife, husband, colleague, employee, boss, friend, do you have a specific way you see yourself in any or all of these roles?

Maybe you see yourself as a calm and relaxed parent, a loving partner, a good friend and loyal employee. And even if you don’t feel this way all the time, you definitely believe that your partner, friends, and colleagues see you similarly.

So it can become very stressful when you realize that a partner, a friend, or a colleague doesn’t see you in the same way you see yourself.

When you feel at ease they see stress and anxiety.

When you feel loving they see skepticism.

When you feel supportive they see self-serving.

When you feel loyal they see obligation.

When you feel authentic they see fake.

It hurts when those you love, care for and respect don’t see you the same way you see yourself.

I remember feeling this way in relationships and trying to defend myself – explaining how I was caring and relaxed. Bringing up examples of when I went out of my way to be helpful or how I took naps during the day – doesn’t that count for a relaxed individual. All the time trying to convince the other person to see me differently, because I felt so misunderstood. How could someone so close to me not see me, understand me, know me?

It’s not to say that maybe there are times when we aren’t at ease, loving, supportive, loyal, and authentic, but at our core there is a basic goodness that is hard to deny.

Feeling sad, hurt, and extremely misunderstood in these moments what do you do when you want someone to see you differently?

  1. First you have to identify that this is what you want. That all the feelings coming up for you and all the ways you want to react are because you need this person to see you differently. Ask yourself, “what do I want right now from the other person, what do I need right now from the other person to feel better?”
  2. Ask yourself how this person seeing you differently makes you feel. Sad, bad, hurt, crazy, misunderstood.
  3. Ask yourself if there is any truth to what the other person is seeing in you? If they are seeing this, it’s likely there is some truth to what they are saying.
  4. Ask yourself what you can commit to for the other person.
  5. Ask yourself what you need the other person to commit to.
  6. Put it all together in a sentence.

Here’s what the above could look like.

In your mind you see yourself as a relaxed, carefree, and happy mother, one who enjoys being with her children and her partner. You and your family go out to dinner with some friends. During dinner you ask your partner if you think your toddler needs a jacket because of the draft. Your partner puts the jacket on him. Twenty minutes later it’s gotten warmer so you take your son’s jacket off and your partner says, while shaking his or her head, “he’s fine. relax.”

Your insides begin to burn. You want to lash out, but you breathe into the anger and frustration and you exhale it out of your body. You know now is not the time to bring it up and you also need to think about what it is that’s really upsetting you right now and how best to express it.

Once at home, you find some time to think.

You ask yourself the questions above and identify what it is that’s really bothering you and what needs to happen to feel better and resolve the situation.

You go to your partner and say, “I’m pretty upset. When we are in public with your friends, sometimes the way you react to me and the way I am with our son or my questions to you about him are condescending. I feel hurt and also crazy when this happens. And misunderstood. It feels bad thinking that in your mind I worry a lot or am fearful or not enjoying myself and am negative. That totally sucks. I can commit to being less fearful and worrisome if you can commit to seeing me with friendly eyes.”

The above may take you fifteen minutes to figure out or an hour or two…it can take a while to get to the right emotions and words so the other person can hear and understand you.

The key takeaways here are:

  • even though it hurts – see if there is any truth to what the other person sees
  • acknowledge the truth and what you can commit to doing to help ease the other person’s suffering in these situations
  • ask him / her to commit to something to help ease your suffering in these situations
  • if they say, yes, wonderful! If they can’t commit then you have to decide if you are okay with that or not.


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