Why looking at ourselves can help us feel less alone

Nov 13, 2020 | Impact makers

What links Siniša Mihajlović’s new book to the death of a six month old child migrant as they were trying to cross the Mediterranean with their mother?

We can no longer ignore the fact that are stories are connected. The coach’s book is called “The match of my life” and talks about how a near-death experience showed him the value in things he previously took for granted, and didn’t even “see”. When he risked losing it, he finally saw how precious and fragile it was. While this happens, in other parts of the world, other people are dying in the hope of becoming visible, perhaps they die because they are invisible.

Solitude is a consequence of being invisible: you don’t feel alone when you are alone, you feel alone when you feel invisible. In fact, you can feel alone even when you’re living with someone else: it happens when you become invisible to each other. Love, even love that lasts a lifetime, is a look. It’s about accepting what we see, forcing ourselves to welcome even the things we find tiring – because our brains save energy when we don’t see anything new. We tend to lean towards the things we know and resist change that is presented to us.

Keeping your eyes open is tiring. So when others look at us, when they see us, we feel reassured. If we feel seen, it’s a confirmation that we exist, and this enriches our perceptions of ourselves.

But how many times to we risk feeling “off the scene”?

The child that died in the Mediterranean ended up that way, while the mother somehow managed to miraculously stay afloat for hours awaiting help. They must have been invisible, otherwise we would have all been distraught and never allow such a thing to happen again. The child was called Joseph and came from Guinea.

Mihajlović ended up that way too, battling his feelings of invisibility. When he could no longer ignore the richness of his fragility, when he felt on the sidelines, he found that’s where life could truly be found.

Lots of people end up that way when they stop looking at themselves in the mirror, afraid that they have “reached their limits”. But the world reminds us each day that “life has just one lens: the inevitable sunset, where we live our needs, rather than dreams, wants and the desire to change“.

The ability to see, the possibility to be seen. Today we alternate between feeling semi-invisible with our masks and feeling too visible through our 2D screens. This territory hosts life and death, making us feel less alone in both scenarios. Because when we allow ourselves to truly see the grey areas in life, we are free to see the symphony of colours that they really have to offer.

 

This article was originally written by our CEO, Riccarda Zezza, for Alley Oop, Il Sole 24 Ore. To read the original article in Italian, click here.

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