One of the most important parts of our lives is social interaction. Is the way we act and, most of the time, react to other people. And, from my personal experience, is the part which can create most of our bitterness and sadness, which can carve the deepest guilts and seeds the most ferocious fears in our life. And why is that? Because most of the time it’s about them. The others. Peoples who hurts us, who makes us suffer, who break our hearts and our wings.
Well, guess what? It’s not about them, it’s about you.
In this post I’ll share my personal experiences about social interactions. I’ll also try to synthesize some simple ways in which you can try to avoid all the negative manifestations that relationships can create.
The first, the most important, and, to be honest, the only lesson I’ve learned from social interaction is: it’s not about them, it’s about you. It took me a lot of time to learn this and also some paynful experiences. I’ve been through a lot of denial and defensive attitudes, I’ve cast tons of guilt to other persons in my life and tried to escape all the abusive situations in which i’ve been put. But in the end, I learned that this is the only healthy way to deal with others. Understanding that you are the person responsible for everything is happenng to you it’s the cornerstone of a fulfilling social life.
Because you actually have the power to attract, maintain and seed all the positive interactions you need. But the reverse of this meddal is that you also have the power to attract all the negative, consuming or humiliating relationships into your life. Although is hard to accept that, this is the truth. You may think that you’re not responsible for the stinky job you have, for the broken marriage or for the complete emptiness of your life, but it’s true.
The only person who can live your life is yourself. Nobody else, just you. Blaming others for your current situation puts you in a surrendering situation. It actually takes your life out of your hands and put it in their hands. Making them responsible for your life actually empowers them. It’s like going to a person you don’t like and saying:
Please, make me miserable! I’m so bored and irresponsible that I need somebody to blame for that! Would you be my blaming mate? I’ll even call you my husband, my wife, my girlfriend, my parent or my kid? How about that? We can have a deal on that one? Coz I really, really need a blaming mate and I think you’d be perfect for that: you want to control everything, you’re insecure, dominating, my god, you got them all? So, can we get married now?
Although you smiled reading this, you did exactly that at least once in your life. We all did it. We put the blame for our broken marriage on our parents shoulders, on our so-called friends, on the dentist with whom she ran, on the stripper whit whom he quit, on her, on him, on the other guy, on everybody. On everybody except us. Why? Because it’s simpler. It’s easier and relieves the pain for the moment. We feel better, get over it for now, and try to have a life. Until next time, when we do exactly the same mistake, and blame exactly the same person.
You may ask now: but what’s the mistake? My situation was so special, I had a bad childhood, I grew up in a poor family, I had an abusive parent, I had a difficult time in school… In fact, although they seem different, all the situations comes to only one: the choice. You have the power to make a choice. And, despite your expectations, this is the easiest choice you can make: you can chose to react to the person, or you can chose to act. You can chose to stay happy when somebody is hurting you, or you can chose to be sad. You can chose to feel humiliation or you can choose to manifest power. You can control everything. You have the power to create whatever response you want in your interactions. Of course, you won’t be able to do this instantly. Or if you are able, I bet you stoped reading this post from the first paragraph, because you’re already past this, and you learned the most important, valuable, and, to be honest, the only lesson about relationships: it’s not about them, it’s about you.
But if you are still reading, that means you can use some advice. Let’s see how we can stop the process of reaction and start acting, moving the power flow towards us and harmonizing our social life.
Delay your answer
You know, you don’t have to answer right now to anybody. You may think you have to, but you really don’t. Delaying your response to abusive stimulus can be an interesting exercise. It creates space for your reaction and time to build another response.
Whenever you respond instantly to somebody you do it out of habit. You do it without consciously evaluating the situation and implications. Suppose you have the habit of fear or self-defense. You’ve been acting like this, in anger, for most of your life, and now you incorporated that type of response into your habits. You don’t really think when you react to somebody, you do it by reflex. So, every time somebody seems to hit on you, you hit back.
Stop this ! Delay your answer. Take a step back, and think. Think of what that person really wants from you and if you can give what is asked. Think if you can fulfill that request with happiness or with fury. Count to 5. Really, I mean it, it’s so simple. But so powerful. Just stare at the face of the guy in front of you several seconds and evaluate: should I start a fight, or should I not?
There will be times when you’ll really want to start a fight. But at least you didn’t start it by reflex, you made a choice. Making choices is the most powerful weapon you’ve been armed with in this battle. It can change everything, but it needs to be used. Not using your choosing capacities it’s like going to a battle fully armed, but fighting with your bear hands. Look back in your arsenal, you have the tools to build something more powerful. Just delay your answer for a few seconds and see what’s growing up inside of you. And act by choice.
Change your perspective
We don’t always see the person who’s talking to us. I mean, really see that very person. Instead, we use archetypes, similarities, resemblance. We work with what we learned in the past. The person who looks like somebody we knew will create in us specific responses. We are more like projecting our life experiences onto others than receiving their real message.
That’s one big source of relationships trouble. There are situations in which a person who physically look like somebody who hurt us in the past will receive a bad treatment from us. It’s not their fault, they don’t even know that they’re looking like somebody who hurt us. And most of the time we don’t know either, we do it in an unconscious way. Consequently, we might be the victim of such behavior from others, without even knowing that we’re looking like an abusive person to them.
Unfroze your archetypes and really start looking at the person in front of you . It can dramatically change your relationships. Always think at the person in front of you like somebody who’s looking for happiness, in his own personal way. Maybe his actions can be abusive to you, but at the core, every human being is looking for happiness, this is how we’re naturally built. Maybe that guy don’t even realize he’s abusive to you.
Change your perspective, and imagine all the persons in your life like people who’re looking for happiness. And that includes you, you know?
Be proactive, start your own interactions
One other way to improve your relationships is to be proactive, to start your own interactions instead ofÂ waiting to react on other people. The biggest obstacle in taking initiative is, ironically, fear from what others will think of you. What if your proposal will be rejected? Your idea laughed at? Your surprise party will turn into a disaster?
Well, so be it! It’s better to start something than to be started by somebody else. Even if your ideas will be ignored, or your contributions minimized, you still did something exceptionally valuable. And that is: taking course of your own actions. They might laugh at you, or show some discontentment, but the real winner of the situation is still you, because you ignited all this, and didn’t react to others.
With time, and by paying enough attention to other people reactions, you’ll learn how to adjust to their expectancies or how to adapt to their lifestyle, if they are in the right vibe with your own lifestyle, of course. But not doing this, not starting your own interaction will make you a perpetual puppet of the events or situations.
It’s the difference between drifting and sailing: although you will still be at the power of external events (the wind, in this case), by sailing, you will actually chose your own course. Sailing is better than drifting, most of the time.
Potential for growth
During the time I realized that every difficult relationship is in fact an opportunity for growth. If in some relationship you encounter some setbacks, might be the sign that you have to learn something from that. Being it with a friend, with a business partner, or with your kids. It’s some unfinished part inside of you that’s waiting to be cleaned up and repaired.
Of course, remaining in a dysfunctional relationship long after learning the lesson is just stupid. Once you clearly understand the causes for that setback, and take action to either avoid it or solve it for good, you should experience a fulfilling and nurturing relationship. If that’s not the case, and if the relationship is still difficult, well, just move on, and do this for yourself .
In the end, it’s all about you, not about them.