3 Simple Steps to Forming Better Relationships with Yourself & Others.

by Amanda Timmins

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best. – Epictetus

beautiful dayEvery day is beautiful. There was a time in my life that I never would have accepted that sentiment, nor uttered it myself, but that time has long since ceased – so much has changed.

Change. I’m the first to admit that change is a fear of mine: it’s hard and sometimes feels out of my control. But it doesn’t have to be.

Over the last several months, my life has changed inexplicably. I didn’t think I was ready for it but the funny thing about opportunities is that they don’t thrust themselves upon you – you have to seek them out and embrace them. Stepping out of my comfort zone was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made but, in point of fact, it was MY decision. And I was much more ready for it than even I understood.

Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice. – Wayne Dyer

Throughout my life, plenty of things have impacted my identity but none more-so than the important people in my life. This came to my attention the other day – and a beautiful day it was. The sun was shining overhead; I had lemonade in my hand that kept dripping cup-sweat onto my leg – across from me sat Kevin Choo. Sitting on the patio, discussing the idea of personal identity and out pops the question: “Who or what do you identify with?” To be honest, I had never given much thought to it; I’d always known what I love and who I am, to an extent.

I answered without thinking: “To me, my family has always influenced who I am but so have my passions. I guess I’m a mixture of everything and everyone that I love, and then some.”

Family. Passion. Love. All three of these things have a variety of different definitions so to define them in this context seems prudent.

Family: A collection of people that may or may not be genetically related; people who love, respect, and cherish each other without question.

Passion: Something a person feels strongly about that is integral to one’s view of self.

Love: A feeling of positive personal attachment or deep affection.

There are plenty of common misconceptions about these three terms. Family, for example, does not simply include blood relatives. Close friends are commonly deemed family, as well. My family is not nuclear, by any means: it does not consist of just my brother, parents and grandparents but also ranges to include those that I deeply respect and care for. One thing is clear though: Family is forever.

Passion can include anything that is important to your identity – something you cannot imagine life without. My best friend’s passion is music and she would most certainly not be complete without it.

Love is where things can get a little complicated… (or do they?) Many people use this term freely and thus the meaning behind it has morphed a bit. Love is not just a series of biological and chemical reactions, as I once believed. Love is one of the very few human emotions that are inexplicable and for this reason; it is an incredible source of internal validation.

What is internal validation?

internal validationInternal validation stems from positive reinforcement and it makes people feel great for extended periods of time. Think of someone you respect, a mentor for example. When this person gives you a compliment, it’s usually about something you’ve worked hard for so you feel almost euphoric.

On the flip side, external validation is short-lived and usually superficial. Meeting someone at a bar that tells you how “hot” you are isn’t nearly as satisfying. Not to mention, “hot” is a temperature, not a flattering state of attractiveness. 😉

Internal validation accompanies internalized or personal relationships whereas external validation is characterized mostly by strangers and acquaintances.

So why does this matter?

Understanding the types of validations that we can receive from others allows us to understand the types of relationships that we are forming with the people around us. If most of our lives are filled with external validation, the types of relationships being formed are also based on the external. External Value will never be as good as Internal Value, so thus, building your relationships based on these external factors predefines the exchange of value within the relationship to be less than optimal.
Relationships require effort but they should not be work. The people in your life directly influence your mood, energy levels, environment and overall state of mind. This means that if you’re constantly striving to reaffirm yourself through external validation, you’re losing energy that you could be spending doing something you actually enjoy. Having said that, the most important relationship, and the hardest to build, is the one you have with yourself.

Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: Now. – Denis Waitley

lonelyI used to have a very difficult time letting my personal defenses down. I was convinced that people were out to damage my mindset so I always protected my Inner Self with layer upon layer of an Imaginary Me. What I didn’t understand was that if you never let people know who you are; you can never have positive internalized relationships. This left me feeling isolated and very lonely. I constantly uttered “Nobody understands!” but how could they? I overlooked the fact that I was inflicting that upon myself but it occurred to me that I had no idea WHY I was isolating myself. Upon intense reflection, reality hit home: I hadn’t entirely figured out who I was yet and my ego couldn’t handle the potential rejection.

Since then, I’ve spent the last year and a half or so improving the relationship I have with myself and I’ve noticed that every single relationship I have in my life now has a specific purpose and is of significant value to me because the exchange of value and importance is equal, hence Win-Win relationships.

Internalizing relationships is something that people do not do nearly enough. Most people don’t realize that aspect of their life is missing; or if they do, they don’t know how to go about fixing it (which is where Kingpin Social comes into play.)

Three Simple Steps:

  1. Evaluate.
    Learn the difficulties you have in forming relationships and relating to people. Who and what is important in your life and are those relationships Win-Win?
  2. Set Goals.
    Understand what areas in yourself or your life need attention but be sure to keep balance and not to neglect other areas or relationships. Start small: opening up a bit at a time is easier for everyone. Tell stories, share experiences, and compare ideas. These are stepping stones to exchanging more value and learning to understand and appreciate everything as much as possible.
  3. Keep It Up.
    This part usually takes care of itself. Once your Inner Self gets out, it’s really hard to confine again. Real People enjoy the company of other Real People – it’s as simple as that.

HINT

Life isn’t black and white – it is a plethora of grays, too. Good isn’t always good for everyone, nor is bad always bad for everyone. All of the previous steps above must be done in order for you to acknowledge who you are as an individual and what works for you. Don’t just focus on things that you perceive as negative. Although our first instinct is to “fix the bad” as our first priority, even the best things in life can always be better. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice if you need it. This is an overwhelming process at first and another perspective is rarely a terrible idea.

My biggest piece of advice is this:

Learn to appreciate yourself. If you don’t understand who you are and what’s important to you, neither can others. Stay true to yourself, always, and the people in your life will too. Inspire and motivate others by setting an example: It is only you that keeps you from reaching or exceeding your goals so don’t hold back.

The best thing people can do is practice what they preach, so from here on out, that is my goal. It’s never too late to learn to live the life you want to have. Take control. The time is now.

Wish it. Will it. Do it. Be it.

About Amanda Timmins
Amanda's favorite phrase is Hakuna Matata , as she believes there is nothing in life that cannot be overcome or attained with a little hard work. People are their own worst enemy and life is best lived with a smile. Dancing, rock climbing and primates are her primary loves alongside reading and photography.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Grace July 15, 2012 at 6:45 pm

This is a great post and makes so much sense. I couldn’t agree more with practicing what you preach and that if you aren’t respecting yourself, it’s hard to respect anyone else. But what do you do when someone that you know is putting you down, disrespecting you, being unkind, or for lack of a better term, treating you like crap? You know full well they are doing this because they can’t validate themselves and because of their own lack of self worth. They put their fears ahead of everything and everyone else and you realize this, but sometimes they twist things around so much you can barely recognize this fear, let alone your own feelings. This is especially difficult when that person is someone who is extremely close to you, is part of your life and as a caring person, you WANT to be there for them. Of course you want to practice what you preach, but when does the line between role model and enabler get crossed? Only the strongest of people, and quite frankly those who can set aside their own feelings for awhile, can achieve this. Any suggestions?

Amanda Timmins July 18, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Grace,

Thank you so much for commenting. To be honest, I’m not entirely certain what to suggest. My experience has put me on both sides of that situation and all I can say is that when someone has their actions pointed out to them and is told the implications of such actions, they either correct their choices or remove themselves from your life.

Of course, the decision can always be made on your own as to whether or not the pros outweigh the cons of the relationship but just remember to set boundaries regarding the relationship so that if this person breaches those boundaries you have a set course of action.

Other than that, enlightenment is key. Pointing out what a person is doing is only helpful if there are options available to learn how to correct the issues at hand.

I hope you find this to be helpful. I wish you the best and please feel free to contact me directly if you wish to discuss anything more personally.

🙂

Grace July 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Amanda,
Thank you. I had a feeling that’s what you’d say. I’ve been hearing this and similar things for a long time. I think the biggest struggle is knowing what to point out and when, when your boundaries are being crossed and when you are being unflexible, when empathy is needed and when “tough love” is a better route, as well as staying strong in your convictions, not letting anger get the better of you and remembering that you can only control yourself. This is even more difficult when the person with who you struggle with these questions the most has the ability to make you second guess all of the above. I’ll keep working on it! Thanks!

William August 31, 2012 at 11:39 pm

What should i do i about my family being emotionally abusive for I am only 16 and I still have to live with them for two more years ? and all of my relationships are basicly external? Help plz

Karim Saleh September 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Hey Will!

That must be very difficult for you and I applaud you for looking for answers. It is not an easy thing to reach out when you are going through a tough time but it is the first step to finding a solution. Surprisingly, emotional, physical and sexual abuse are more common than you would think. Unfortunately, most parents don’t get parenting classes don’t necessarily learn how to form healthy relationships with their children and often with each other. That doesn’t make it okay though…not in the least. But there are certain ways of going about it depending on the situation and what outcome you want to achieve.

I don’t want to give you a one-off answer because all situations are unique and I am sure yours is. I want to get an idea of what kind of stuff they say to you and how that is/has been affecting your life. This is the best way to understand what you are going through and help you achieve what you want.

Often emotional abuse can be equally as destructive as physical abuse and sometimes even more so. Hang in there Will! Hope to hear from you soon!

William September 5, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Hey karim, i dont thinks its really anything to take note of they always blame every incident on me from there fights to turning off they tv. they filp out and call me selfish, spoiled horriable person in general. The one thing that stuck out the most is when my mother said how could i raise a child like you, at this point i dont really care i laugh in there faces when they say that now, but as a kid i think that got to me pretty deep. i know they are just lashing out on me because they lack a grasp on emptional control but even i tho i know they lack proper judgement i still feel its effecting me. If you can help that would be great if you want to know more ask and thank you.

Karim Saleh September 7, 2012 at 11:50 am

Hey Will!

That sounds like it must be pretty tough. I have to say your situation sounds pretty tough, and it is normal for something like that to affect you even though you are able to think about it logically. Unfortunately, underlying beliefs get tied to emotions and we experience these even though consciously we know that we don’t need to react that way. I think your home environment doesn’t sound like a very healthy environment for you to grow in…I think it is important that something changes.

You actually have many options: For e.g. if it gets to the point that you truly can’t cope or if it gets physical or anything along those lines you always have the option of calling social services. I would look at that as a last resort but still an option that is available and we want you to be safe.

Apart from that:

I think it is important for you to examine what it is that you think is setting them off. What do they want from you? In other words, do you know of anything you could do that would change their point of view? Do you feel their reactions are justified at all?

It’s also important to try and figure out what they are looking for from you. Sometimes communication can break down in a way that the way you do something doesn’t get through to them because they see the world in a different way. Sometimes you can translate things for them to understand. So, what do you think your parents value?

If you think back to a time when you were getting along with your parents (if ever), then think about what you were doing during that time and try and figure out what was different then. Have they changed how they treat you? or have you changed the way you treat them? or both?

Looking forward to hearing your answers 🙂

Quang November 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Attitude is everything!
When you sow the thought you’ll reap the habits, when you sow the habits you’ll reap the character, when you sow the character you’ll reap the destiny.
All in all, it is no doubt that you’ll REAP what you SOW.

Cam November 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm

@ Quang – Thanks for commenting! I also noticed you liked the fan page so thank you for that as well. I’m stoked you’re getting involved in the community.

Attitude really IS everything.

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