We Could All Benefit From Being Seen Through Fresh Eyes

Everyone needs a clean slate now and then


Some individuals veer toward communicating most intimately with people they hardly know while sticking to light conversation with their nearest and dearest.

I wonder whether their distance stems from a concept, as a writer, I’m all too familiar with: It’s easiest to pour your heart out to an unknown audience than someone who knows you. After all, friends and family have opinions, and they are biased. Strangers, on the other hand, see you as a clean slate.

The clean slate concept entered my life when I was just a child. Sitting cross-legged on the school hall parquet floor, admiring the mosaic of shiny wood, I listened to the headmaster deliver his daily speech.

“Today is a new day. Yesterday has gone. Now, you begin anew and your slate is clean. Write a positive story on it and forget mistakes of the past.”

We all need to begin anew sometimes, to be taken on face value rather than seen via our former behaviors. Indeed, one of the reasons new romantic relationships work is probably due to the clean slate principle. Your lover can’t judge you. They have nothing to go on, so must evaluate you in the moment.

Such a realization prompts me to want to view everyone through fresh eyes, and to be treated similarly. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be given the gift of a clean slate by your partner, friends, and other people close to you?

The difficulty with viewing people as clean slates comes when everything you know about them, or think you know, pops to the surface as you interact. Your spouse comes home from work, and when they walk through the door, you see them as the person who was rude to your mother the other day. Or, your mother visits and you see her as someone who favors your sibling. Or your sibling walks in and you remember them as the one who broke your train set when you were a five-year-old.

The people you are closest to arrive shrouded in your old perceptions about them. Before they even open their mouths to speak, you can’t help but form a myriad of ideas about them based on what they’ve done previously.

Shaking off the emotional baggage we cloak our beloveds with is difficult, and the only way to do it is via mindfulness. If we keep returning our attention to the present when thoughts stray, we can better offer the people we love the benefit of a clean slate.

When I remember to be mindful, communication differs from those occasions when I look at people with timeworn vision. It’s more joyful. Perhaps you too, could benefit from looking at people through the eyes of a stranger.

Naturally, you want people to do the same for you. But alas, you aren’t in charge of their behavior. You can, nonetheless, spark a fresh perspective and hope it catches on. You can also view yourself without old emotional baggage. Meet yourself anew each morning and lighten the load.




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✨ Bridget Webber

✨ Bridget Webber


Writer, former counselor, author, and avid tea drinker learning how to live well.