Understanding in caregiving

Seeing someone through a fence of judgment disconnects us. If I see a ‘loser’, I am allowing a complicated web of meanings (that is, evaluations, judgements, and diagnoses) to obscure the space between me and the other person. If I start to tell the person all the things they should be doing with their life, the net gets thicker. It is not only that my vision of the other person gets densely obscured but equally they can’t see me through it either. They can’t see the good intentions that motivate me to say all these things in the first place.

If I see a ‘foolish old man’, I don’t see the person in front of me, I see my judgments. And this net of judgments has the amazing ability to be self-fulfilling. The more I see a stubborn old man, the more there is a stubborn old man to be seen. Everything he does will seem to confirm his stubbornness and his old, impaired  abilities.

If we learn how to relate to one another without judgment, we can see each other more clearly. Seeing each other clearly is connecting. Observing the sanity of our hearts as expressed in our needs and values is the most direct, unmediated way of understanding another person. It’s like replacing a painting of a landscape with an open window. You see the real thing rather than its representation.