I remember a song from the late 50’s that went, “You are my special angel, sent to watch over me.” Having someone who sees us as special is a tonic for our spirit. We all need someone early in life who sees us as special. It can be our parents, of course, but it can also be a grandparent, a godparent, an aunt or a pet. Later in life, we search for people who think we’re special; people who smile when we enter the room; people or animals who “wag their tails” when we come near. Sometimes specialness is shown by a smile and sometimes by a blush. It may be shown by a person calling us by a secret name or by the use of a special handshake or an extra long belly-to-belly hug. Sometimes special friends develop a whole secret language and secret rituals.
Many people, like myself, grew up without feeling special to anyone. I began to overcome that deficit by marrying the right girl and then working like hell to make the marriage work. Part of working like hell was lots of therapy, both for myself and for the relationship. Gradually, I began to like myself, to see myself as special, and to stop leaning so heavily on my wife as my only source for specialness. And that brings me to another point. In order for specialness to ignite our spirit, we have to internalize it until we have our own inner source that can sustain us during droughts.
Specialness can be cultivated. Whether you are thinking about a child, a spouse, a friend, or a pet, you can behave in ways that will increase the chances of specialness breaking out. Eye-to-eye, intense, non-judgmental listening is a great start. Honest, non-blaming responses up the chances a little further. Saint-Exupery, in The Little Prince, talks about “taming” to describe this process. He says, “…to tame means to establish ties. If you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you I shall be unique in all the world.” Each one of us deserves this.