In therapy, we see people suffering with being able to relate with others. This can be manifest in a number of ways. Often, people find themselves anxious and preoccupied with being rejected by others. This preoccupation can cause people to focus on how they are being judged and lose focus on truly connecting with others. Conversely, other people find themselves disillusioned and mistrustful of others, moving through life with cynicism and hostility. This stance pushes others away and leaves one feeling lost and alone.
As a therapist, I am always on the look out for ways to help individuals connect in a meaningful way with people in their lives. I thought, as we move into the holiday season and begin spending time with family and friends, it would be helpful to share a practice that moved me. Rooted in the Buddhist principe to “see the inner nobility and beauty of all human beings”, this practice instructs us to purposely seek to find good qualities in others around us and has been adapted from Jack Kornfield’s The Wise Heart.
Seeing the Secret Goodness
1.) In the morning, set your intention to find the “inner nobility” or goodness of three people.
2.) As you interact with others throughout the day, notice how this intention impacts your interactions.
3.) Observe how it affects your heart
4.) Notice how this impacts your work or other tasks you make undertake during the day.
5.) Repeat this practice for five days.
6.) After you have been able to find the inner goodness in three people for five days, set the intention in the morning to practice seeing the inner goodness for as many people as you can all day.
7.) When you have completed this practice for a day, choose one day a week to continue this practice for a month or two.
8.) As you find yourself more naturally able to see the secret goodness in people, experiment was ways to expand your practice. For example, you could try adding more days, or practicing with strangers or difficult people.
As you take a break from your typical busyness and slow down to spend time with family, see if you can cultivate an intention to see the inner beauty and goodness in those around you. What you are likely to find is a greater sense of satisfaction in your interactions and more compassion for those around you.
Dr. Angela Williams is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of the Rowan Center for Behavioral Medicine. She specializes in cognitive-behavioral and humanistic/existential approaches to therapy. She has extensive training in Brief Crisis Intervention as well as mindfulness based therapeutic approaches. Her therapeutic style blends strength-based acceptance with practical skill development. Incorporating mindfulness-based interventions, she helps her clients move through difficult experiences and be more present in their lives.
Please feel free to call the Rowan Center for Behavioral Medicine for further information 818-446-2522 or email