Believing Is Seeing

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

I was talking with a dear friend of mine recently. The conversation turned to whether someone is capable of objectively seeing someone or something. Take for instance falling in love. Dopamine floods the brain’s reward and pleasure center and the hormone oxytocin causes us to feel calm, content and secure around the person we are in love with. Chemistry mandates that we idealize our partner. In this state, how we feel about the other person heavily influences what we see.

Maybe this works both ways and maybe it isn’t limited to one-on-one relationships…

In the first season of Star Trek there is an episode called, “Mudd’s Women” (episode 6.) Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise rescue Harcourt (Harry) Fenton Mudd and three beautiful women from a space ship. The women have a significant effect on the men aboard the Enterprise, including James T. Kirk. The Enterprise has become damaged and needs to stop at a nearby planet to acquire lithium crystals (predecessor to dilithium crystals) where there just happens to be three male miners.

Through a series of events it becomes known that the women’s beauty and allure is the result of an elixir Harry is providing to them. One woman becomes disgusted and frustrated with the façade and runs away. By the time she is found the effect of the drug has worn off and she is plain again. Childress, the man she was destined to be with is upset.

Eve says, “You don’t want wives, you want this. This is what you want, Mister Childress. I hope you remember it and dream about it, because you can’t have it. It’s not real! (It is here that she takes the elixir and when she turns around, she is alluring again.) Is this the kind of wife you want, Ben? Not someone to help you, not a wife to cook and sew and cry and need, but this kind. Selfish, vain, useless. Is this what you really want? All right, then. Here it is.”

Only she didn’t take the drug. Kirk had switched it for a placebo. The transformation was from her own self-confidence. She believed that she would be pretty. How she felt about herself changed how she appeared to others.

How we feel about other people changes how we see them. How people feel about themselves changes how they appear to other people. This is true for communities also. When we have a sense of belonging and we feel cared for and appreciated, we are more likely to idealize the community we are in. We overlook flaws that others might see and are possibly even “unreasonably” loyal. How a community “feels” about itself changes how other people view them too.

This has significant implications for us personally as well as corporately.

Personally, I would be wise to incorporate practices that instill a sense of gratitude and contentment in me. My gratefulness list, surrendering the things that are unchangeable and/or outside of my control, and seeking to see the best in others all create an energy in my life that changes how I perceive myself. That confidence and peace then effects how I am seen by others. The most “attractive” people are the ones who are beautiful from the inside, regardless of their objective physical appearance.

Corporately, we would be wise to focus our energy on caring for, and taking care of, others. When we strive to make a difference in other people’s lives two things happen. We feel better about ourselves which makes us more attractive to people outside the Kimray community. We also cause people to feel respected and cared for. They will remember how it felt to be around Kimray and they will come back for more.

We also need to remember that no amount of makeup, clothes or possessions can mask an unhealthy and unhappy soul. Likewise, no amount of marketing or window dressing can cover up an unhealthy and selfish culture. Who we really are will always ultimately be how we are seen. What we believe about ourselves and others is what we will see, because believing really is seeing.