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