Understanding Human Relationships (Blog)
Use this thread to discuss the following entry from Steve Pavlina's blog:
Understanding Human Relationships
The Amazing Power of Complaining and Being Bossy!
Interesting timing. I've been noticing that if I'm complaining or offering unsolicited advice, whether silently or out loud, it is 100% about me, and 0% about the other person. The other person is simply a generous (or unwitting) mirror for me. What a GREAT tool for personal growth -- just listen to my own complaints and the advice I give others! Every time, no exceptions. It's NEVER their problem.
But it's not easy to remember to do this! Good thing I've trained my friends to point it out to me. Argghhh.
What about emphatic abilities?
What about telepathic abilities?
Are these the skills that actually cause the other person to start behaving differently as you start to focus on the given issue that previously bothered you? Isn't empathy actually a way to get an objective standpoint on another person's views and emotions over an issue?
And what about equanimity?
Isn't it best to just let things be the way they are and not get yourself bothered by anything? I certainly can't list a single thing that bothers me about other people. In turn, it seems that no other person I know is bothered by my behaviour in turn. It's not indifference - it's making yourself incapable of feeling negative emotions over people doing things differently than you are. Or are you saying that this in fact is what one should strive for and in turn the other person actually starts to do things your way and feeling great about it?
Okay I have to jump in and say that I did indeed create a folder called "Stuff I don't need." But that's only because, "Stuff I probably won't need but am too afraid to throw out in case I'm wrong" was too long to fit on the label. ;)
And I do still have that file.
I think this article is great, except the example you gave about George Bush:
On the other hand, if you thought your brother lacked good leadership skills and decided to work on your own, he would probably be influenced in a good way.
The tidiness illustration is interesting, but isn't very clear in that
If organization and tidiness was your value, and you had practiced it fully, then Erin's untidiness may still have irked you, simply because you expected her to live up to that same value. Not necessarily because a part of you wanted to become more organized.
The effect that occurs seems like you simply became more organized, as though your value 'purity' became cleaner, and Erin took note and changed her habits, as though by osmosis, perhaps because her habits took a more striking contrast to your increased tidiness.
Essentially, others may irritate us either because they are different than us (we expect them to live by our values), and in some cases, because they represent some part of us that we want to change. It is not always necessarily the latter (as your article implies).
If you were already tidy, then how can you get tidier? You are already being tidy!
Perhaps you weren't tidy (or not tidy enough) to begin with. You just thought you were... Or something you are aspiring to achieve requires you to be more tidy somehow. Or perhaps you were tidy in the 'physical' sense (making your bed, keeping your desk organized), but you had to 'tidy up' other aspects of your life? Non-physical aspects such as goals, thinking, etc..
This "watching your reflection in the pond" business is kinda weird to say the least. :)
Re: tidiness... The source of the conflict was internal because I wasn't satisfied with my own level of order. My life had become more complicated at the time, and my old systems were proving that they were no longer adequate. Hence my internal feeling was that my standards weren't high enough, which is exactly the feeling that was manifesting through my relationships with others.
We have relationships with everyone, even George Bush, because all relationships are in our thoughts. If a person is in your thoughts, you have a relationship with that person.
If you don't believe you can change someone's behavior remotely just by working on the part of yourself that person represents to you, try it and see what happens.
He might be saying that if you stop being bothered about things that bother you, the things that bothered you don't bother you anymore. :D
Dr. Wayne Dyer: "When you change the way you look at things - the things you look at change."
But reading through it, the emphasis is still on actually making a change happen. So yeah, I'm a bit lost on that one too as you pointed out.
Yeah, I'm a little lost, too. Great idea, though. I can see where it might apply some of the time. I can see where things I find annoying in other people are sometimes things I donít like in myself. But I just don't see how it works in other situations. I have a friend who is habitually late; Iím habitually on time. How is she a reflection of me? And my being on time has not influenced her to be on time. She's still just as late as ever.
I do agree completely, though, with what Steve said about interacting more with others as a way to learn about yourself. I also agree that improving your internal relationships improves your relationships with others.
Well, I just tried a test of this...
Just before reading the thread, I was wondering why a business owner who I'm sub-contracting with was being so flaky...
After reading it, I decided to stop being flaky about the project, I gave him a call, an viola, I have all of the information for that project, plus I was contacted by another company for a very large project that they were being flaky about as well not more than half an hour later.
Gosh, I guess I've been really flaky lately... ;)
Long time reader of Steve's site here. Normally I find Steve's article resonate very strongly but i'm a little stuck on this one.
The essence of my problem is that Steve seems to be saying: unconditional love = unconditional forgiveness & acceptance. Unconditional acceptance is a very difficult concept to swallow. It implies a complete lack of desire to instigate change in the world around us and in our relationships with the people in it.
I can think of plenty of examples where unconditional acceptance would have been wrong course of action.
WW2. What if Britain has unconditionally accepted Germany's annoying habit of invading its neighbours? Or what if Nelson Mandella has unconditionally accepted the treatment of Blacks in South Africa under the Apartheid regime? Both times people acted on an unacceptable situation for what I would call the greater good (this may or may not be an appropriate term for Erin's filing habits hehe). Is it possible to have unconditional love for someone and yet adamantly refuse to accept them as they as? I think so. Why does having love for someone mean you let them treat you like a doormat? Not everybody is so enlightened as to be able to follow a superior example of how to act without some coercion, or even to recognise superior behaviour when it presents itself. In the article by Steve he uses his tidyness is an example. It is implied this is a superior behavioural condition to being messy. Why? This is a viewpoint that may or may not be shared by everybody and depends largely on their personal frame of reference, upbringing, cultural standards etc. This same concept can be applied to all manner of behaviour.
Now, see, I'm one of those weirdos who believe that perfect peace is attainable, and it is attainable through unconditional love. I also believe that it is possible for all societies to have this perfect peace at the same time.
One of the ways to achieve peace is to have unconditional acceptance... The problem that you point out, though, is that if everybody except for one practiced unconditional acceptance, that one will be able to commit atrocities. You're probably right too.
I don't see Steve preaching unconditional acceptance, though. Rather, what I'm seeing him say is that if there is something about yourself that bothers you, then change it to be something that you can forgive, love, and accept. Using Steve's example, being disorganized bothered him, so he changed his habits so that he could accept himself; not as a disorganized person, but as an organized person.
During WWII, the Allies were very bothered by the advance of the Axis powers, so they changed their environment. Nelson Mandella was bothered by the racial discrimination in South Africa, so he changed his environment.
If you don't like something, change it to something that you can feel acceptance towards. Since a lot of times, (all of the time, in my experience) our relationships echo our own emotional states, we can use our relationships to find out what we can change in order to bring acceptance for ourselves and others.
Does that help to clear things up?
Have any of you read Byron Katie's book Loving What Is? Steve's message sounds very similar to Katie's, specifically the process she calls "The Turnaround."
If you're interested, check out her website http://www.thework.com/. I find myself automatically employing her 4-step process (followed most importantly by the "turnaround'), whenever I am bothered by relationship issues.
I have a couple of other thoughts on this topic that are floating around in my head, but I can't seem to formalize them at this hour (10pm after an evening of night skiing with my two young kids!), so I'll repost when the thoughts are more clear.
I think this harmonizing your relationships idea makes more sense as simply- the things we don't like in others are projections of our own judgements, (not necessarily projections of our own qualities)
And to know that you can change your judgements if you want.
Harmony in relationships, like music, works when two people are alike, in values and qualities, and also when they are complementary. Either matching or complementing tones.
Disharmony or dissonance occurs when people are different, and those values don't match up, neither alike nor complementary.
Therefore, in relationships, the qualities we don't like in other people are usually because they don't match or complement ours.
Sometimes this signals elements that we need to work on ourselves (eg becoming less judgemental and more accepting) but I think that those elements are rarely the things that we are judging in others, imo.
Taking note of resistance (...and poking a little fun at Erin :P)
That said, I can definitely relate, Erin. I tend to keep a lot of things (especially on my computer) that most people would say I should get rid of, but usually end up being useful (or very frustrating if I did take their advice and get rid of it). Generally I find that so long as I'm addressing purging when fairly conscious (as opposed to trying to do it when I’m in some sort of zombie-like stupor :p), if I feel resistance to getting rid of something it's usually because that resistance is trying to tell me something important.
Sometimes it's your subconscious (which tends to have access to many more mental resources then your limited conscious mind) telling you: "Stop! you still need that". Sometimes it fear telling you: "Oop, don't go getting rid of that... don't do anything too crazy now... perhaps you should go and sit in that nice, safe corner and stay away from the scary world out there".
I find its best to acknowledge the resistance and accept it so that you can figure out what it's trying to tell you and what you can learn from it... kind of like what Steve spoke about in the article this thread is discussing (Understanding Human Relationships). On that note, there is also this to consider from the same article I quoted above:
People trying to understand relationships might also take a look at Socionics.
Intertype Relations can explain a lot of the interactions we have.
However it is worth pointing out that if the change on the inside truly happens a phenomena called "dualization" could appear...
Dualization is the transformation of a deficient relationship into a dual relationship (the best that could be). It takes a lot of will but... it can be done. ;)
@apj & Adam: I believe the practice of unconditional acceptance refers to what IS, the NOW. You can disagree with a course, and take action to change it, but you can not change what already IS.
Having just read Steve's entry, I'm trying to apply the concept to my own life. People usually don't bother me much, unless they interfere with my day to day operations. Otherwise, I say to each his own, even those that do 'dumb' things. I find it hard to accept others when their actions directly affect me.
At work, I work side by side with one coworkers for months at a time. I just started with a new guy who is more experienced than me by a couple months and having worked a busier area longer.
He is extremely critical and wants everything done a certain "best" way. At first, I was receptive, b/c he has knowledge/experience, but now he's correcting me on things that don't have right/wrong ways...things that are personal preferences.
Right now he's one of the few people in my life who bother me (and I wish it weren't so, because he's a nice guy, otherwise). Does this mean I'm to critical myself? Would me becoming more or less critical make it less annoying when he corrects one of my tasks (which I know is being done correctly). I'm usually veryt receptive to feedback, but his intensity makes that hard to continue.
Not sure how I could apply Steve's concept here..
Interesting piece, as always. While not everything in the articles resonates with me, I do find that whenever I'm not getting what I want from a relationship, there is something in me that needs to change to make it work.
Most recently, I was desperately trying to grow a deeper friendship with one of my band members, but none of my efforts were helping. The harder I tried, the further I felt removed from my goal. Only when I finally gave up in frustration and just let things be, did the friendship I desired bloom. I had long since earned his unconditional friendship, but just couldn't see it... doh!
Hi everyone. I didn’t intend for this to be so long. But hopefully this post will be helpful to those who manage to get through it all. I was doing that thought exercise Steve suggested in the article and it kind of went off on a tangent. I hope reading this is helpful to those who also suffer from "analysis paralysis".
So... because I believe I live in a Dilbert-esque world, full of mostly incompetence and corruption, that is what I experience. I bring it all onto myself.
Because my personal philosophy (at least business-wise) has been "Don't Step in the Leadership", all I see around me regarding business/career decisions is where NOT to place my next step.
So I do nothing.
Or more precisely:
- I work in contract jobs at companies solely for the socializing opportunities.
- I work in contract jobs mainly for the learning experience of working in a different industry.
- I dabble in developing various passive internet income streams but never actually complete or launch anything.
- I read books and listen to audio programs on business / economics / finance (mostly for fun, because it's enjoyable to me) but I still don't apply most of what I've learned directly to my life.
I guess, subconsciously, I think that a lack of preparation somehow equals agility and flexibility, and that “going with the flow” somehow equals an automatic “flow” state. That last one is kind of true though, now that I think about it. But I already know that the flow-state only can last for so long and "going with the flow" can only take someone so far.
Thinking about “flow” and "going with the flow" some more and how it relates to my feelings about my work/business relationships, this is what I came up with:
Ultimately, it’s 100% all me. No one else is doing anything to me. For example, it’s so easy and natural for me to see that everyone is truly doing the very best they can in all the other dimensions of life, but for some reason I have a lot of resistance to that idea whenever it comes to work / business. All I see is incompetence and corruption. However, people in work and business REALLY ARE doing the very best they can too. Even if I can't see it. There is no "incompetence" or "corruption". Even the (seemingly) pointy-haired managers, jaded engineers, deceptive marketers, sleazy salesmen, greedy entrepreneurs. Those labels exist only in my mind. Ultimately, it's just a bunch of people trying to make a living, doing the best they can with what they've got.
My negativity towards most of my work/business relationships is basically because I have a bad strategy and outlook towards work/business in general.
This strategy, or lack of one, is:
- Fly by the seat of my pants which gets me into a quick flow state.
- While in flow, my mind divides, classifies, and organizes. Divides, classifies, and organizes. Over and over again. But eventually though, my “flow wagon” approaches an insurmountable wall of complexity. (too much challenge, not enough capability)
- I still persist and try to continue on with my flow state for as long as possible, trying to crash through this barrier even though my mind can’t process everything anymore (which sets up a perpetual feedback loop of increasing stress, anxiety, and exhaustion)
- I then fall off my “flow wagon”, pick up the pieces, and repeat the process all over again.
This “go with the flow” approach has worked fine in the short term because I rarely fall off with small projects, but eventually it breaks down on longer term work / business goals and I get buried under a mountain of complexity. I mean, it works fine in most lower-level office jobs, but it fails miserably whenever I try to start my own business. And it works fine in higher-level programming jobs, but it usually means I have to sacrifice time/energy in other areas of my life in order to meet my own quality standards.
So when I look at other people’s work/business success and try to apply my own mental model to it, I just get frustrated. Failing over and over again always sucks. Failing constantly at what you naturally enjoy and are naturally talented at really sucks. Not being able to see how/why you keep failing or why you can’t ever finish what you start sucks even more.
So when I look at other people’s results and try to backtrack their steps and figure out how they got there, I guess I just write it off as either luck or cheating somehow. (Now that I think about it, a lot of people can easily fall back on those two excuses) Truth is, I have no idea how they got where they are. But my current mental model only allows for those two conclusions.
Why do I only see luck or cheating as options? The best reason I can come up with is that when I’m working on a longer term, more complex goal and when I eventually reach the point where my “flow wagon” is about to run off it’s rails again, I basically have two choices (other than slowing down or stopping on my own):
- (a) I can just coast along, zone out mentally, and pretend I know what I’m doing and that everything is under control. Just like how a stereotypical pointy-haired manager would. (success by dumb luck)
- (b) I can resort to lower-level-consciousness behaviors (yelling, intimidation, guilt-trips) to deal with all the stress and extra input since all my higher-level faculties are already at 100% cpu utilization. (success by cheating / unethical behavior)
I don't want either option, so I usually just opt out. And I hate failing, so I subconsciously avoid situations that just set me up for this kind of failure scenario, where the only possible way I can succeed is either by cheating or blind luck.
This has been a great exercise and has really opened my eyes. It’s a tough pill to swallow though. But still, it’s great getting at the source, or at least one of the sources, of all these negative feelings.
Bottom line is that, personally, I need to learn how to "small chunk", delegate/cooperate, automate repetitive tasks, encapsulate complexity, iterate my output in order to get immediate feedback, and realize that whatever I do is never EVER going to be "just right" the first time around.
I can still "go with the flow" with everything else in my life. Just not in work/business. In my experience, trying to plan the other stuff just doesn't work. You really can't plan your friends, what you will like or won't like to do for recreation, who you have the hots for, who you fall in love with, or what your spiritual path will be. It's so much more fun and rewarding to "go with the flow".
this article rang very true to me, untill I got to the example.... I understand that every problem I have with others originates in my mind and I can solve it by changing the way I look at it. But in my experience you can't get others to do what I want them do, unless they want to themselves. And so many ppl have bad opinions of George Bush, do they all have low opinions of themselves? And if one of those many would improve himself, than Bush would improve? And what if one of those would turn into a drug-addict? what if both happened?
All relationships are internal, so essentially there are no other opinions but those that exist within your consciousness. The notion that Person A has an opinion of Person B somewhere outside your consciousness is simply an optical delusion.
This is explained in more detail here:
Anyways, the article.
I don't usually comment on these, but there was a few things jumped out at me on this one and it was interesting to see that Steve has been putting these theories to the test in his usual analytical manner.
It struck me how closely this article coincided attitudes throughout Buddhism. The thing is, these types of attitudes can be extremely difficult to grasp. For example, if there is a war, you will always have anti-war groups. These groups will demonstrate in public and do whatever they can to stop war from happening around the world. And why not, because surely this is a logical way of going about it, right? It would certainly seem so. But, in reality, the anti-war movement is a war in itself. Not only does it fail to stop wars, but also create a new one. It's a heavy negative. You throw that negative about and people immediately become defensive, often rebellious. It adds fuel to the fire.
More often than not, I have heard Buddhist masters advise people to take care of themselves, do the best you can with your own life, and by doing that you silently encourage the rest of the world to follow.
I was going to say more, but I forget what now. Oh well.
OK, you made me think :D
I needed to read this
I didn't realize that all the complaining I have been doing about others, was just me complaining about myself. I complained about people not saving money, while I'm not saving enough. I complained about people not working out enough, while I have stop doing my morning runs completely. I complained about the way people tried to get into relationships, when even though I'm changing, I was holding on to some old emotional habits. I'm reflection of others and they are of me. We are all part of each other.
I'm eliminating the need to judge people. Whenever I see people, I will see the good in them. It's not a habit I have yet, but with work and mental reconditioning, it can be one. I'll even look at the drunk bum on the street and see some good in him.
Thanks for waking me up Steve :eek:
I think that what Steve is saying, is that it's our perception of the person that determines our relationship with them. We can't control all the actions of another person, but we can control how we feel about their actions.
If you have a friend that's always late and you're always on time, it's how you feel about her being late that matters. If it doesn't bother you that she's always late, then you will not think of her being late. Being late wouldn't even be an issue. For example, you'll tell her to meet you at 3:00 pm and as you know she will be 15 mins late, you can arrive 15 mins late yourself. This way no one is really late, but both on time! You don't have to tell her you're coming late. You can set up a system to meet her "late on purpose" if her tardiness does bother you. Other than that, stop being emotionally affected by her tardiness.Then she'll keep showing up late or maybe on time. Either way, you will be indifferent to the results.
And about George Bush. I believe that there is some good in everyone. We don't have to agree with all their actions all the time. If you can see the good in Bush, then you'll see the good in yourself. For example, Bush may not be the most popular president, but he has some good qualities. Look at his good qualities. He is someone who's persistant to what he believes in (the Iraq War). You don't to agree with his reasons for going to Iraq. But if you see that he is determined to not give up on something that is important to him, you can become more committed to something that is important in your own life.
The minute you think of another person, you have a relationship with them. Even if you see someone on the street for five seconds, they are apart of your life. Everyone that comes into your consciousness is someone you have a relationship with.
Working on your own leadership skills does nothing to objectively improve President Bush's leadership abilities...he's not consciously aware of you.
Working on your own leadership skills CAN shift your perspective on the meaning of quality leadership,
which has the power to change your opinion of others' leadership abilities.
(That certainly doesn't mean that your opinion of another's skills will necessarily improve either!)
Steve's premise is radical
It seems to me he's saying much more than that we change our opinions of others (which is no small thing in itself) when we change ourselves.
Note how he said Erin sort of reflexively got more free to work on neatness when Steve tended to his own knittin'.
This is the real stuff, IMO. The implications of this are revolutionary.
If I'm not mistaken, this ties in with what was brought up on this thread:
Most of the rest of us still do have emotional reactions, and these are clues to stuff inside us which, when processed, leads to more growth and freedom--for ourselves and others.
Actually, this idea is in the Bible and Buddhism and probably most everywhere, but it really never hit me square in the eye until I read about Dr. Len, "The World's Most Unusual Therapist." (Thanks, MindReality!)
I'm not proactive like Steve (he is gradually building a fire under me), but already I see that I create much less drama in my life simply by observing that people are only mirroring my stuff.
I think this may be Steve's most important blog ever.
But I wouldn't want him lookin' in my filing cabinets either. :D
I wanted to ask you...is there any place in your life where you're habitually late? Not in terms of being late to your destination...but, perhaps, late paying a bill. Or, late calling your family. Or, is there something in your life that you always put off till the last minute. Are you ever late going to bed? I'm curious...if you take the time to find that one or two things that you are late with...and work on being more on time in that area...will this maybe affect your friend in a way that she begins to be more punctual???
I think it's a cool experiment to try...lemme know what you think...;)
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