“I Am Here to Be Seen”

“You’ve got a cute accent; where are you from?”

In my thirteen years of living in the USA, I’ve heard this conversation starter hundreds of times, and every time I hear it, my heart sinks: “Another lost opportunity for a true connection!”

My heart closes more and more and my whole body shrinks as I watch you lock me into various boxes and put labels on them:

  • How long have you been in the States?
  • Do you have your family here?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children?
  • How do you pronounce your last name?
  • Do you have pets?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • Which school did you go to?
  • How many languages do you speak?..

There is no end to my social expressions in this world and none of them have anything to do with me…

You keep erecting more and more walls between us by remembering everything you’ve ever heard about Russia or anything you consider to be related to it:

  • In college I had a friend who was from Russia…
  • My neighbors are from Eastern Europe….
  • Once I tried borsch and liked it very much…
  • One of my colleagues loves to drink vodka…
  • Why are you wearing a coat? Aren’t you used to the cold?..
  • My great-great-great-great-great grandmother was from Poland…
  • Dostoevsky is my favorite writer and I just love Russian ballet…
  • One of my friends has been to Red Square…
  • I’ve always been interested in the Soviet history…
  • I would love to go to Russia one day…
  • I think Russian classical music is beautiful…
  • My ex-boyfriend was from Armenia…

What does any of that have to do with me???

To know another human being in their essence, you don’t really need to know anything about them – their past, their history, their story. We confuse knowing about with a deeper knowing that is non-conceptual. Knowing about and knowing are totally different modalities. One is concerned with form, the other with the formless. One operates through thought, the other through stillness.

Knowing about is helpful for practical purposes. On that level, we cannot do without it. When it is the predominant modality in relationships, however, it becomes very limiting, even destructive. Thoughts and concepts create an artificial barrier, a separation between human beings.

This is what Eckhart Tolle says. And this is what Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher, said in the 19th century: “Once you label me, you negate me.”

I feel that every time people define me in some way, they stop seeing me. To them, I am of a particular group of people and they now expect me to be, to feel, to act… the way that people of that group usually do: “How much vodka do you drink every day? Where is your Russian hat?..”

I was born in Russia, I am living in the US, I am 36 years old, I am divorced, I don’t have any children, I don’t drink vodka, I have three Master’s degrees, I am a college professor… What does that have to do with ME???

What does that have to do with what makes my eyes light up or my heart jump out of my chest with excitement, with what makes me cry with pain and despair, with my dreams and hopes, with my heartaches, with what I believe it is worth living or dying for, with my current understanding of my own life or life in general?… What do all those checkboxes that you’ve mentally checked for me have to do with the real me and why do all those labels mean so much to you?..

At his events, Dr. Robert Holden often uses a greeting of the Zulu people in South Africa. Two people stand in front of each other and look deeply into each other’s eyes. Then one of them slowly and thoughtfully says, “I am here to be seen.” Seen without masks, roles, lies or defenses. Seen as I truly am. Seen as the Truth that I am.

The response is, “I see you.” Without my judgments, preconceptions or generalizations. Without any of my own thoughts or beliefs projected onto you. I see YOU. As you are. As God has created you…

A grocery store check-out line might not be the best place to practice this kind of a greeting (at least, not yet), but next time you have a chance to sit down with someone new and really meet them, don’t miss the opportunity to connect on a soul level. You might be surprised at what a delicious treat it is to truly see someone and to be seen by them…









  1. Hi Diana,
    Your words certainly trigger some reflection. I very often ask people their familial background more out of genuine curiosity than anything else. I hope it doesn’t come across as me dropping people in a box, but I can sure see how it may. So thank you for perspective.
    The “I am here to be seen” greeting is the most powerful session i have done in any workshop/event.
    The intention behind our seeing and hearing will guide what we receive in return.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Brenton,
    I really hope that with this post, I am not making people be afraid of asking questions. 🙂 It’s just for me personally, small talk questions have never been very interesting. I do recognize that they break the ice, and I do use them myself, of course, but I do not like limiting my conversations to just that level of “connection.” I love and always welcome the opportunity to truly see the person – what makes them happy, what makes them sad, what are their dreams?.. Not everyone enjoys having such “deep conversations” though, and that’s fine. It just tells me those are not “my tribe” people, so I keep walking. 🙂
    Hope things are well in the sunny Australia. 🙂
    Best wishes,


  3. Hello Diana
    How wonderfully and utterly refreshing..!! 😊
    In a few simple words you’ve just unraveled a way I’ve felt but not quite understood for half of my life.!
    I don’t read very much, I’m dyslexic and to be honest I don’t have much education at all really but when something grabs my inner self the way what you wrote just did I want more.! That’s helps me to keep growing.
    Thank you.!! I’ve been an American for 26 years now but I am from England and appreciate your perspective emensly ..
    Is there some way I can read more or maybe listen to more of your work (which is obviously a passion for you) ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Ian,
      I was deeply touched by your comment. Thank you kindly for everything you’ve said!
      I started this blog last fall and there are about 20 articles here right now – you can browse them and see if any other of my stories resonate with you the same way.
      I don’t have a fixed schedule, but I usually post 2-3 new articles a month, and if you subscribe to my blog (by clicking on “SIGN ME UP” in the top right corner, you will receive an e-mail every time I publish something new.
      I am also working on a book. I don’t know when it will be finished, but if you want, I can send you a note when it is about to see the world. 🙂
      Lots of Love and Blessings to you! ❤


  4. Dear Diana, How Beautiful! That exercise is still so fresh in my mind (even after 5 years) and you expressed it so beautifully. I am so deeply inspired by Robert’s work on dropping judgments and seeing the true self…its been a beautiful journey. I see you divine. Love you xx

    Liked by 1 person

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