What do we see when we look at other people? Do we tend to envision them as the best versions of themselves? Do we see them as having enormous potential? Are we capable of holding this vision up as a mirror, that they may see themselves in an inspiring light, too?
My greatest regret in life is failing to carry that image of my stepson in my heart. My parents are both perfectionists. Growing up, my behavior was often motivated by judgment and criticism, so I struggled with self-acceptance. This made it almost impossible for me to be open and accepting as a parent: I simply didn’t know how. Now that I’m older, I comprehend how significant parental acceptance is to the development of self-worth. With the benefit of hindsight, I realize his struggle for approval and understanding must have looked much like my own as a child. I know what a dark and lonely place that was for me, and it breaks my heart when I think I made my stepson feel that way, too.
When he died, I lost all opportunity to show him I believed in him, how my life was better because he was in it, and how his loving and carefree spirit blessed everyone who knew him…especially me. If I could go back in time and change just one thing, it would be to see him, and I mean really SEE HIM for the beautiful being he was.
Every day we have an opportunity to show others their true potential. When we choose to unconditionally accept others for who they are, and when we hold those visions of them in our hearts, we provide them the opportunity to live up to their values and ideals, we help them become their own heroes, and their own source of inspiration and strength.
As a bereaved parent, I cannot emphasize this point enough. Always look for the best in others as if their lives depend on it, so that when you behold how precious they are, they may discover it, too.