At the end of January, Steve Pavlina published a piece on Human Relationships. His article pointed out something I’ve always believed — that we see in others the traits that we love and dislike most in ourselves. In fact, our relationships with other people are really the same relationships we have within ourselves.
Steve explains it beautifully.
Where do all your relationships exist? They exist in your thoughts. Your relationship with another person is whatever you imagine it to be. Whether you love someone or hate someone, youÃ¢â¬â¢re right. Now the other person may have a completely different relationship to you, but understand that your representation of what someone else thinks of you is also part of your thoughts. So your relationship with someone includes what you think of that person and what you believe s/he thinks of you. You can complicate it further by imagining what the other person thinks you think of him/her, but ultimately those internal representations are all you have.
Now,you might have gotten there on your own, just as I did. It’s a fascinating conundrum that we can never objectively see what objective form our relationships really have. Steve’s post goes in another direction. He gives new meaning to something I’ve thought for the longest time.
The quickest way to change someone’s behavior is change our own.
Steve tells a story about how he wanted to convince his wife to be tidier. Thinking of his internal relationships, he recognized it was really his own issue, not hers. So he decided to become even more tidy than he already was. He points out that with no conversation, as he became tidier, his wife began tidying her office and other spaces around their house. Steve says that as he solves problems he thinks he has with others by working on them within himself, others always have this response.
Steve offers this simple exercise for us to try it out.
Make a list of all the things that bother you about other people. Now re-read that list as if it applies to you. If youÃ¢â¬â¢re honest youÃ¢â¬â¢ll have to admit that all of your complaints about others are really complaints about yourself. For example, if you dislike George Bush because you think heÃ¢â¬â¢s a poor leader, could this be because your own leadership skills are sub par? Then go to work on your own leadership skills, or work on becoming more accepting of your current skill level, and notice how George Bush suddenly seems to be making dramatic improvements in this area.
What a great way to work on self-development!
The Most Likely Reasons This Works
When we have a problem or a conflict, we often find ourselves on opposite sides of a line. The problem defines us as we and them, you and I, hero and villain or so many non-intersecting circles. If we make a sincere change with intent to grow, we have just moved outside of our circle. The person on the other side of that line has a new picture, a new response when he or she communicates. Of course he or she will notice, that alone is a change.
If the person watching sees us do something positive, human nature provides so many reasons that a friend, an enemy, or someone who hardly knows us would want to do the same. Can you think of them?
Now consider one more thing that Steve says; The more we interact with others, the more we know about ourselves.
–ME “Liz” Strauss