You know when you have experienced something difficult in your life? You may recognise the healing power of acknowledgement which smooths the way forward. It’s the experience of being accepted, being seen. Whatever you’ve done or are going through, you still know that your life counts, that you matter to someone, you are noticed, you are important.
To acknowledge someone is to say, ‘I see you’.
‘To pay witness to one another in an alert and loving manner… Love has something to do with the notion of being seen – the opposite of invisibility. The invisible, the unwitnessed, the unacknowledged…’
~ Nick Cave from The Red Hand Files #103/July 2020
You may not have anyone who listens deeply to you. Instead, they give out whiplash advice, opinions, judgement on what you’re saying or doing. The result is that you may feel unheard, discounted, invisible, unseen.
It’s not a matter of approval or disapproval. All it might take is a loving nod, a hug, a phrase, ‘I hear what you’re saying,’ or ‘This is tough, isn’t it?’ or ‘I’m here for you.’
Julia Samuel, author of ‘Grief Works’ and ‘This too Shall Pass’ talks about grief and miscarriage. How very often this particular experience is difficult for people because there is no acknowledgement of the grief. If you have no support and acknowledgement of your experience, ‘It twists against you,’ she says.
Painful challenges of any kind that we all experience, involves suffering, and yet from this comes learning and growth. That doesn’t mean we have to do it completely alone. To be supported and seen, makes it smoother and more possible. You’ve probably noticed this during the Covid pandemic.
Families and acknowledgement
If someone, or a whole group of people, such as family, don’t acknowledge your difficult experience, they don’t value what that experience was. And it doesn’t take much to then feel that you yourself are not valued.
When you don’t have emotionally intelligent people around you, you can do all the self-healing in the world, but to continue never having acknowledgement of your circumstances or experience true listening, can be a lonely place.
It’s often why people go for counselling, simply to be heard and seen through difficult experiences. Without judgement. To be acknowledged and given full attention. To help with healing.
‘The cornerstone of a functional relationship is knowing your family is on your side’
~ Julia Samuel
Family can also mean the friendship group you have around you.
Often it can be difficult to share how you feel, and when you finally do, the person says, no, that didn’t happen, or they suggest you move on … You are unseen and unheard by them.
Their reaction to you may be, ‘Oh, I’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt’ or a glib dismissal or denial of your experience. Or what is also deeply painful: a complete ignoring of anything you’ve gone through. No interest, no support.
And it’s not about comparing one another’s painful experiences. Every single one of us has had them. In each moment we can be there for someone else or it may be their turn to be there for you. No person’s experience of pain is greater than anybody else’s.
Acknowledgement of the good things
To acknowledge is a compassionate act of witnessing.
‘Love says softly – I see you. I recognise you. You are human, as am I.’
~ Nick Cave
And that’s why we also find acknowledging our achievements or simply our lives, is important too. A birthday, for example, is a time to acknowledge a person’s being here. A way to express love and acknowledgement of a person’s existence.
You may not be able to put yourself in another’s shoes. But that doesn’t mean you cannot acknowledge them, one human to another. In all our experiences, challenges, griefs and joys.
Acknowledge your feelings and mistakes
Lastly, the healing power of acknowledgement is that which you give to yourself. When you are experiencing difficult feelings like grief, sadness or shame. Name them. Don’t ignore them and squash them down.
With mindfulness, you can sit and allow yourself to be open to these feelings. This lets them flow through you. It’s a natural process, because any emotion moves through, moves on. To acknowledge them with self-compassion allows the process to be more easeful.
And to acknowledge to someone else when you have made a mistake. This too is a healing and powerful thing to do.
If you’re a parent, you will know the challenge of doing what is best! Julia Samuel says: ‘As a parent, you hold the responsibility to acknowledge your mistakes and initiate repair.’
What do you think?
There are many aspects to this term ‘acknowledgement’. I hope these pointers in the direction of its healing powers may be helpful for you.
Article on ‘Grieving During Covid-19’ by Julia Samuel
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Guide
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