Through a Jungian Lens

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Notice Me – Others as a Mirror of Self

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ChangZhou GuoRen in HongMei Park, May 2011

I chose a different kind of photo for today’s post, one that serves a purpose in continuing my thoughts on relationships as well as for a bit of humour.  First with the humour.

In China, when the weather is warm, males often bare their stomachs apparently in an effort to cool off.  At the same time, they often rub their stomachs while they walk down the streets of their communities.  From a western world standpoint, it is all very amusing.  I am wondering if there isn’t some sort of macho advertising agenda that is consciously or unconsciously being acted out in terms of dominance, a “notice me” message.

“Notice me!”  It seems that this is at the centre of much of our reaching out to others.  For whatever reason, being noticed serves us as proof that we exist and that it isn’t all some strange nightmare.  We need confirmation from others about who we are.  I have to declare myself guilty of this.  I catch myself saying things in gatherings and then looking to one or more others for confirmation, at least a silent, non-verbal agreement.  It’s as though I don’t trust myself or give myself any authority to think and to say, needing approval.  When others don’t disagree, one feels empowered, heard, perhaps even accepted.  The silent question to another for confirmation serves a purpose, the silent answer that doesn’t refute whatever is being said or done is taken as acceptance, that one is noticed and approved.

One of the most powerful relationship dynamics I encountered as a youth involved no words.  I was fifteen years old, en route to Ottawa from Winnipeg when the family stopped at a restaurant-cafe in a place called Nipigon, Ontario.  In the cafe, I saw a girl about the same age as myself who also saw me.  Our eyes confirmed that we actually saw each other, that both of us confirmed a real need to be seen.  I was haunted, alone and lost in the events of a family fleeing to find a new place to live.  I don’t know what her story was, but I did see the same haunted and lonely look in her eyes.  It was an “I-Thou” moment. “Notice me! See me! Confirm me! Know me!”

An hour later with the family fed and the car filled with gas, the family journey continued, a journey that has no other memories.  I was noticed and I knew that I was real.  I met my “self” because of a relationship gained, then lost.


Written by Robert G. Longpré

May 5, 2011 at 9:34 am

2 Responses

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  1. I dare say it is in the genes; respected by males and admired by females.


    May 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm

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