Do you see me - really see me?


I have been working on my Manifesto for many weeks now. It’s my statement of purpose of why I write and why anyone would be interested. The plan is to publish it next week. The title is Love’s Manifesto: to be seen, to be known, and to be loved into wholeness.

The first part of that is: to be seen.

We are told it is a fundamental need in humans to be seen.

I’ve been doing research to find out why.

How does it work? What is it we are looking for?

What is the benefit of having this need met?

I was raised during the era when it was commonly said children are to be seen and not heard. That mentality and treatment of children caused many negative side effects in adults today.

Clearly, the being seen part of that line does not deliver the core human need I am addressing.

Why is that?

Because the second part negates the first.

In that context, the child is an object to be dominated and controlled instead of a person who deserves value.

Children are people and people need to be seen and heard. Taking the voice away from a child takes away their power to rule over themselves. It causes a codependency on authority instead of teaching a child how to express and control their own attitudes and behaviors.


Today I was reading a short article by Joshua Hook, The Need To Be Seen.

The writer shares an observation he made while at a sporting event.

One thing I noticed during the game was how excited everyone was if they saw themselves on the Jumbotron. They could have been bored and half asleep one second before, but once they saw themselves on the Jumbotron, everyone would jump up, wave their hands wildly, and act crazy.…

Why is it so fun to be on the big screen?

… each of us has a need to be seen.

We want the chance to express our humanity, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are important enough to be recognized and acknowledged by others. (emphasis mine)


Having our need to be seen met provides these benefits.

It makes us come alive.

It validates us.

It infuses us with energy.

It motivates us – to engage, to respond, and to contribute.


Motivation is clearly impacted by whether our need to be seen is met or not.

Craig Dowden Ph.D. shares a powerful picture of this in his article:

Why you need to be seen (The critical role of acknowledgement in maintaining our motivation).

Research was done to highlight the importance of the simple act of acknowledgment (being seen).

The people in the study were divided into three groups and all given the same task.

The variable was following the completion of the task.

When each participant handed their completed task to the experimenter there were three different responses.

The first group.

The experimenter took the paper and quickly scanned before filing.

They were acknowledged.


The second group.

The experimenter took the paper and immediately filed it without reviewing it.

They were ignored.


The third group.

The experimenter took the paper and without looking and immediately put it through a shredder.

Their work was destroyed.


When I read about the third group I was appalled.

I expected their results to be the worst because they were treated the worst.


Motivation is clearly impacted by whether our need to be seen is met or not. Click To Tweet


I was wrong.

The research was done for the purpose of tracking motivation. Here is what they said.

The results were striking…those in the Acknowledged condition persevered significantly longer…

NO DIFFERENCE between the completion rates for the Ignored and Shredder groups.

… findings demonstrate the sheer power of acknowledgement when it comes to our work. It is important to point out that the researchers did not do an in depth analysis of the accuracy or quality of the work. It was simply a matter of recognizing the work…the impact of acknowledgement on the motivation of the participants was profound.

…. it is critical to highlight the lack of difference between the Ignored and Shredded conditions.



That is profound.

The third group had their work destroyed while the second group did not.


Yet the second group’s lack of having their need to be seen met = their work being destroyed.


The article goes on to say how technology connects us to our work.

But it is the paying attention to each other (personal acknowledgment) that causes us to truly feel connected.

Paying attention to each other is a form of seeing each other, meeting each other’s need to be seen.

Paying attention to each other is a form of seeing each other, meeting each other’s need to be seen. Click To Tweet

Being seen provides us with the much needed human connection with those around us.


While I was working on this article I had an amazing illustration arrive in my own life.

Last week I had been sick and had to quarantine myself. Because of this, I missed my usual time with three of my grandkids. Yesterday I got to see two of them. It was awesome. I missed them so much.

Tomorrow I had my usual plans to hold and rock the new little one.

But I got an unexpected surprise.

I got a text letting me know my grandson (who I was not going to be able to see this week) had a half day of school, and I had the opportunity to pick him up and rock his baby brother!

I was elated!

These words came rushing out of my mouth I get to see ALL my grandbabies this week!!

As those words jubilantly escaped my lips and I did my classic hysterical clap of joy – I saw something.

The illustration of the word SEE as it relates to the need to be seen.

It wasn’t see, as in just with the eyeballs.

It was deeper.

SEE = connect.

I get to connect with my ALL of my grandbabies this week.

Brené Brown defines connection as this:

the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.

I have this with my grandchildren and I could not be happier!

I have the privilege of providing them jumbotron type experiences when they shout out Mima watch! Mima watch!

I have the privilege to acknowledge them, which helps them with motivation.

I have the privilege of hearing their stories.

When we take the time to see others, to acknowledge them, to listen to them and respond.

We are loving them.


We have the need to be seen. We crave it.

Have you ever tried to be on a jumbotron? Or anything else like that?

Have you photo-bombed a friend’s picture?

What about people who hack into people’s phones or Facebook accounts or whatnot to prank them?

What is it they are in actuality doing?

They are trying to be seen.

And that seeking to be seen is a seeking to connect.

Connect in the comments here.

Share a time you felt seen or provided that need for someone else.

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8 thoughts on “WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “BE SEEN”? (Many Benefits)

  1. I find it interesting that the opposite is also true. There are times in our lives when we hide. But I’m wondering if at those times we are really wondering if anyone will come looking for us. And if they don’t, we simply are out to prove some negative thing we are telling ourselves i.e. no-one really cares.

    1. Anne, I completely agree. In fact, at first I was going to touch on hiding but the article would have become too long. Perhaps in another article.

      I agree with your thoughts on what may be going on while one is hiding also. I used to be a hider and can relate to your words.

      Thank you for sharing!

  2. In my work as an engineer I have found that my work is rarely validated. We have a saying “no news is good news” because if our design has a mistake or a flaw or doesn’t work as desired, we get immediate feedback, but if it works well, we hear nothing. So I have learned to take the silence as validation, and to seek validation in other ways. MY motivation comes from the silence of my customers and reassurance of my wife’s words when she tells me she appreciates my hard work and how I provide for the family.

    1. Michael, I think that is amazing.
      You’ve taken the lack of being seen inherent your industry and reframed it in your mind as silence that speaks thereby providing what you need. Amazing. Many people could not do that.
      Thank you for sharing.

  3. Great thoughts and so right on. This is obviously playing out on social media as people seek followers and appreciate likes. I notice that some people ask for RT and follows. I don’t do this because for some reason I feel uncomfortable “asking for attention” however, I feel validated and loved when my blog or tweets are followed or liked. I guess I feel like if you’re content and writing is good then people will naturally follow without one needing to ask. In other words, I need and appreciate validation but I don’t want to ask for it. Is that pride? I’m not entirely sure. Ok I’m rambling. Hope this makes sense. I do very much appreciate the value in community and building relationships. Thanks for taking time to write this. It really got me thinking!

    1. Thank you KP. I see it too. There are many out there just trying to be seen. Who knows what has gone on in their lives. If i can agree with what they are asking I support. I want to be a positive and uplifting voice. One of support and comfort and encouragement.

      I understand the discomfort with asking to be supported. I have been there. Sometimes I still struggle. I was terrified when I first released my book that someone would actually read it.

      But after I saw my story brought about positive change in people’s lives I realized I needed to do something if people were going to know my book existed.

      I had to learn marketing and learning it is difficult because you have to put yourself out there. For example, I have a book launch group. It was difficult for me to set that up. I was afraid it was arrogant to ask people to help me. I had to humble myself to ask. We need each other. We need to support each other.

      If you have a message to share you need to ask for help too. It is not pride to ask for help. We don’t know everyone and if no one shares how will people have the opportunity to decide if they like what we have to say?

      I’m glad I got you thinking. Let me know if I can help with anything.

  4. Hi Danielle,
    While reading this, what came to my mind was my struggle as a child for acceptance. My second book (yet to be published) is based on those struggles. I will share a small portion of the introduction, which explains.
    “I had no perception of self-esteem or confidence. All I ever wanted was to look in a mirror and see a reflection of acceptance. Through the years, I was constantly in pursuit of finding acceptance from someone.”
    Yes, by being seen we are validated, a necessary emotion for growth.
    Great post, thank you for sharing.

    1. Wow Chuck – I can relate. I believe you would truly appreciate my book, if you haven’t read it already. Keep me posted on yours. Are you still in the writing phase?

      What is the name of your first book?

      Thank you for sharing!

Please share your thoughts!