Dina-Perla Portnaar
Integrated Communications & PR | BD | Presentation | Writing | Speaking | Coaching

We see the other not as he or she is, but as we think he or she is

Dutch society offers lots of opportunities, a lot of security and ease, provided that we colour between the lines and preferably act as normal as possible, because that is already crazy enough. Everything goes according to the general established structures and according to the all-embracing policy. It becomes much harder when you would like to take a self-willed, non-conformist and somewhat exorbitant path. ‘Overdone’ and ‘American’ is what you often hear in these cases. Besides, lots of readers will add immediately that ‘the human story’ is still decisive in the Netherlands; aspects such as colour, origin, nationality, gender, age, class and so on. Because, that defines a person right? This is a misconception, by far.

Greatest human desire

Who someone really is, is expressed when the personality and the inner human, also called the soul, are fully in alignment. The personality serves the soul. If you prefer less spiritual formulations, you could say: when labels and judgements of others dissapear. Being seen for who you truly are, may be the greatest human desire, apart from living on and writing history. Often, we see the other not as he or she is, but as we think he or she is, maybe because we do not see ourselves for who we truly are. Not attention is gold, but recognition. Besides, it almost is an impossible task, because a human being is in constant progress and he or she can decide at any given moment to become what he or she would like to manifest the most.


Every individual who is not seen on a sustaining basis, or to put it in another way, who is not valued, reacts differently. One person does not get rewarded for top performances and leaves the country. Another person notices that talent does not come to the surface automatically as we try to tell each other naively. He or she becomes unmotivated. Slowly, involvement is fading. Again, another person experiences political manifestations on an individual level, or publicly, for instance from parties. Then, there is a person who is in serious problems of identity, religion, domestic setting, health care, welfare, isolation, or financial care and who is increasingly turning against other people, resulting in inhumane, destructive and fundamentalist or compulsive actions.

It starts with yourself

From a spiritual and psychological point-of-perspective, it is assumed that you work on your own terrain and that everything outside yourself is exactly as it should be. In fact, it is perfect. If you want to influence the collective, you have to start with yourself and with leading a beautiful and thankful life. Not only the visible such as the behavior falls under one’s responsibility, also the thoughts and words belong to the daily tasks of an individual. The life goal, also called the life path formulation in my book Living gracefulness, puts the individual at the center, so that he or she knows when to adapt to reality and when not.


Spirituality does not mean not naming things. There’s nothing wrong with yoga mats, green juices and meditations, but the collective transformations will never come from that alone. Faux spirituality brings much pleasure, but no lasting movement. Therefore, let me note how alarming I find the consequences of not really seeing each other. I’m pretty distracted by that lately. Undoubtedly this will have to be solved within my own terrain and yet… Where is the balanced mode within myself and in society? Maybe I will deliver that next column from a hammock on the Tamarama beach in Sydney, Australia. Because it fits. Because it’s possible.

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Integrated Communications & PR | BD | Presentation | Writing | Speaking | Coaching