1. Do you see me?
2. Do you care that I am here?
3. Am I enough for you?
4. Can I tell that I am special to you by the way that you look at me?
Maya Angelou, American poet, author, and civil rights activist, proposed that we are unconsciously asking each other these four questions all the time. We ask the cashier at the coffee shop, co-workers, teammates, friends and of course our beloved family members.
Most often we ask and receive the answers to these questions silently thru non-verbal communication. When we receive a silent YES we feel loved. We inherently trust the one who is answering. Affirmative answers give rise to feelings of relaxation and contentment. If the questions are unanswered, or worse yet, answered with a silent NO we distrust the one who is answering. We grow restless and distant in the relationship. We create drama or distraction to get attention, to feel important to the other.
Have you ever wondered why it feels so wonderful to be in the presence of a small child? I propose that it is because she answers all four questions with a big YES! The child sees you. She holds your gaze. She watches you with interest and a desire to learn from you, to imitate everything you say and do. She looks up to you with admiration. She shows that she cares that you are there by reaching out for you. She uses her sense of touch to feel the warmth of your skin, to hold your hand. You know that you are enough by the way she smiles with twinkly eyes and her toes wiggle when you enter room. You feel special because the quality of her presence is palpable thru her eyes.
Would you like for your child to feel this wonderful in your presence? Well, you can answer all four questions affirmatively by following her example. When you set down your device to make eye contact she feels seen. When you quietly observe her play without interrupting, you convey that you care about what she is doing. As you allow the love that you feel to flow thru your eyes, your smile, your open arms, your tender touch, she feels accepted for who she is and comforted knowing she is special to you.
By their example, little ones teach us how to be fully present in the now moment. Let’s imitate the quality of their presence. By slowing down, we can become aware of our non-verbal communication and use our facial expressions, body language, and loving touch to say, “ YES! I see you. YES! I’m happy you are here. YES! You are enough exactly as you are. YES! You are very special to me.”