Friday, September 3, 2010

Understanding The "New You"

Dr. Branden, in the The Psychology of Romantic Love, What Love Is, Why Love Is Born, Why It Sometimes Grows, Why It Sometimes Dies, talks a lot about visibility – the ability to understand (perceive) another person for whom he/she truly is and for them, in turn, to understand you.

Sometimes we hold a false self perception – that is we do not see ourselves clearly and as others do. We may have changed or grown, and our vision of self has not caught up with our outward behavior. When we see ourselves reflected in another’s eye (and this is reinforced by many viewers), this can allow us to take pause and evaluate our feelings about who we are in this moment. Merging the old pictures and the new pictures we hold of ourselves gives us a better understanding of our "new single self."

Dr. Branden states, “Our psychology is expressed through behavior through the things we say and do, and through the way we say and do them. It is in this sense that our self is an object of perception to others. When others react to us, to their view of us and of our behavior, their perception is in turn expressed through their behavior, by the way they look at us, by the way they speak to us, by the way they respond and so forth. If their view of us is consonant with our deepest vision of who we are (which may be different from whom we profess to be), and if their view is transmitted by their behavior, we feel perceived, we feel psychologically visible. We experience a sense of the objectivity of our self and of our psychological state of being. We perceive the reflection of our self in their behavior. It is in this sense that others can be a psychological mirror."

Some individuals may erect a fa├žade when meeting new people. For a variety of reasons, they are unwilling to reveal their true selves. So what happens? They come together with a false knowing of each other and when the true self eventually emerges (and it always does!) problems and questions arise, such as "Who is this person with whom I’m involved, for I really don’t know him or her."

It is a necessary risk (but holds a high reward) to reveal yourself – to let your true self be known. As much as we might long to be "seen" by a partner, we cannot expect to be understood if we present a false self to the world. Branden says, "When two human beings encounter each other, the willingness and ability of each person genuinely to see the other determines, at the most fundamental level, the degree to which each will experience visibility."

Love requires visibility, and, as Branden states, "Our desire for love from others in inseparable from our desire for visibility. If someone professed to love us but when in talking about what he or she found lovable named characteristics we did not think we possessed, did not especially admire, and could not personally relate to, we would hardly feel nourished or loved. We do not wish to be loved blindly; we wish to be loved for specific reasons. And if another professes to love us for reasons that do not bear any relation to our self perception or values or standards, we do not feel gratified, we do not even feel really loved, because we do not feel visible; we do not feel that the other person is responding to us. To feel understood is the essence of visibility. It is not unconditional and unseeing support that we need, but consciousness, perception and understanding. ... Visibility does not necessarily entail love. But “love” devoid of visibility is delusion. ... We want others to see us as we actually are – even to help us to see it more clearly – but not to invent us out of their own fantasies.”

For all these reasons and more, it is important to spend time by yourself after the loss of a partner from death, divorce or break-up. Your life experiences have made it virtually impossible for you not to be a changed person. Through deep introspection, you need to figure out this new person you have become. Unless you take the time to do that, you will remain confused about why a prospective partner might love you, for you are not able to recognize the new you.

Next up ... How To Tell When Love Feels Right

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