A nobleman needs to be seen for who he is. He shares something deeply personal with the queen, who does not react. He expresses himself more and more explicitly, and still, she does not react. Only once he turns his back to her, seething with pent-up anger, does she react with a sympathetic smile and a superficial remark. She did not see him.

''Once upon a time, there was a dissatisfied man who realized the importance of doing what needed to be done but lacked being seen for who he was.''

The notion of being seen

We all have a fundamental need to be seen, contained and accepted as we are. When that need is met, the tension is reduced, and we can turn our attention to something else. People who are especially good at seeing other people are able to read between the lines and to communicate their observations with empathy and kindness, which in turn contributes to building trust and good relations.

Table of Content

What does it take for us to be seen on an emotional level? Above all, there has to be a natural interest and an environment that makes us want to reveal who we are, as persons. The next step is to dare reveal who we are. The final step is that the person who sees us responds by showing and, perhaps, explaining what he or she sees.


The need to be seen must necessarily be met by another person. In the illustration, the nobleman has chosen the queen for that role. In close personal relations we often choose to be with someone who appears attractive and easy to be with. In many cases, however, we later discover that the person is in fact highly challenging for us to be close to. The explanation for our unconscious choice is that it offers the best opportunity for being confronted with all the things we struggle with on a deeply personal level, which compels us to develop, so that we can heal our childhood wounds. The hope is that we can then learn to resolve the conflicts and challenges we were unable to deal with as children. The nobleman has unconsciously chosen the wise queen to meet that need. He is not aware that she is just as incapable of seeing him as his mother was during his childhood. The challenge the nobleman is facing is to accomplish his mission by bringing in external resources and learning to update his defences so that he can find healing or, alternatively, realize that he no longer wants the queen to meet that need.

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The purpose of these exercises is to gain insight into the connection between past and present in connection with the need to be seen. This learning should help you achieve a better point of departure for personal development to enhance your quality of life. It is important to read and understand the general instructions for the exercises, which you find here.

  1. Are you being seen for who you are? By whom?
  2. If you have a partner, is he or she able to see and contain you fully?
  3. Which aspects of you does your partner struggle to contain?
  4. Which aspects of you were not contained very well by your parents when you were a child?
  5. Are those aspects the same now as they were then?