We relate to ourselves, we relate to others, and we relate to the past. This is critical to understand, so we’ll explore these relational models in this post. These principles come from an advanced study of NLP, and neurolinguistic programming has been called the science of success, so I’m paying close attention.
Three Ways We Relate to Others
Picture a capital E.
Now picture a stick man standing in front of the capital E.
Then picture another stick man standing on each leg of the capital E.
- We can look up to others and put them on a pedestal.
- We can look down on others and put ourselves above them.
- We can relate to another person on the same level, as an equal.
How we relate is a life event. Our experience of the event is determined by our perspective. Are we looking across, as equals, or up or down?
How we relate to others is public and affects us emotionally. Regardless of what we think of ourselves or how we want to present ourselves. The three ways we relate to others impacts how we experience life.
That we should look at other people as equals seems obvious, but it’s pretty inconsistent in action.
Actually, it’s kind of rare.
More typically, we are either looking down on, or up to, others.
Looking Down on Others
No one likes to be looked down upon, but everyone likes to feel superior. Reality TV is popular because we like to feel superior. The same thing happens with talk shows and scandals.
We think, “Hey, in comparison to so and so, my life is pretty good.”
It’s common enough for people to build confidence and self esteem on the grounds that they’re better than another person. Self-righteousness, or feeling better than someone else, puts yourself on a pedestal in relation to someone else. This is the pedestal of self righteousness and judgment.
This is not a great way to build yourself up. When you build your confidence on the basis that you’re better than so-and-so, you’re on shaky ground.
Looking Up to Others
Sometimes when we judge others, we don’t put them down. Instead, we put them on a pedestal.
This might be how you related to your parents when you were a small child. It’s how many adults continue to relate to their heroes and mentors.
However, there’s a problem with looking up to others. When you put others on a pedestal, you unconsciously put yourself down because our judgments tend to work on a comparative basis.
Always Try to Relate as Equals
To build strong and healthy relationships, we need to develop a strategy for treating people as equals. People are people. We are alike in so many ways regardless of fame or fortune or skill or whatever.
Comparisons are typically unhealthy, so be cautious. The quality of our life is fundamentally impacted by our relationships, so how we relate to others is vitally important because it impacts the quality of our relationships.
Now, think of your own relationships. How are you comparing yourself to others, and how can you approach other individuals as an equal?
How We Relate to Ourselves
As with others, we can put ourselves up or down. Neither practice is especially healthy. One neither wants to be an egotistical narcissist, nor a shit-eating doormat.
When people don’t relate well to themselves they do not relate authentically with others. They become fakers, and they falsify their confidence. They lack the boldness to be themselves, and prevent other people from knowing who they really are.
Often when people put themselves on a pedestal, they do so on the basis of external things. They feel superior because of their job title, or the car they drive, or the neighbourhood they live in, or in relation to someone else.
This is not super-healthy, and as I mentioned, it puts the pedestal on shaky ground because external things come and go. External things can be taken from you.
We don’t always put ourselves on a pedestal. Sometimes we go the other way, and to put ourselves down.
This is hugely problematic because when we put ourselves down, we often tell ourselves negative things that hurt our self image like, “I’m not smart enough.” “I’m not strong enough.” “I’m not thin enough.” “I’m not (whatever) enough.”
Our self-talk, the things we say to ourselves, particularly about ourselves, become part of our self image. We come to believe what we say about ourselves in our worst moments. Thus we form the limiting beliefs that can handicap us for a lifetime.
Then, we can be afraid to pursue dreams and goals. We can fear, and lack confidence. We can feel like we need someone else to build us up.
None of this is a recipe for an empowered life, so stop smack-talking on yourself, okay? Instead, use affirmations to reprogram your automatic self-talk to be more empowering and resourceful.
Healthy Self-Relating and Authenticity
When we are happy and secure in ourselves we need no external validation from others. This frees us to be more authentic around others.
Ironically, this is usually when we receive external validation.
When I was the most secure in myself, I adopted a belligerent sort of “fuck-it” attitude. I operated on the basis of, “I am who I am, and if you don’t like it, fuck off!” While it sounds a bit aggressive, and it was, it helped boost my self-esteem.
Try it, and let me know how it works for you!
How we relate to the Past
As when we relate to ourselves, our self-talk is very important in how we relate to the past. Self-talk, mental chatter, and the meanings made in the mind happens continuously. It is crucial to develop awareness of our self-talk, so we can choose to speak to ourselves in empowering ways.
Seeing ourselves as powerless victims of others, or of circumstances etc., affects our ability to have an impact now, and decreases our self-esteem. We are never victims when we take responsibility for our own choices and outcomes.
Empowerment comes from a position of responsibility. Whatever our past results, each moment we breathe is a chance to make choices that support the outcomes we truly want.
The past does not equal the future.
This is one presupposition in NLP. I take it as a given. In spite of this truth, there is a general tendency to limit and generalize our future potential based on our past results.
The past, present and future are interconnected and interdependent. However, this does not mean that the past determines the future. What is true is that the ways we think about the past and the future profoundly influences our present. Focusing on the good will obviously feel better than focusing on the bad.
When thinking of past experiences, we judge those experiences as being either “good” or “bad.” When we think of a “bad” past experience, we feel depressed and sad. When we think of a “good” past experience, we feel happy.
Projecting the past onto the future is the source and cause of either anxiety or excitement. If you think about a “good” past experience and project it onto the future, then you’ll feel excitement. If you think about a “bad” past experience and project it onto the future, then you’ll feel anxiety or fear.
It is important to be aware that the present is all we truly have. The past is over. It’s just a memory. The future hasn’t happened yet. All the scenarios we imagine – good or bad – are just holograms, smoke and mirrors, illusions. Please try as much a possible to be in the present moment, mindfully.
Our relational judgments are huge. How we relate to ourselves, others and the past directly impacts the quality of our lives.
To have a great life you need a great self image, so it’s important to mind the quality of your self-talk. Be aware of your mental chatter, and whenever you notice your self-talk sliding into negativity, refocus on the outcomes you want, and on good experiences and positive expectations of the future.
We need to address our confidence, self-image and emotional state. If we build our self-worth on external things, we are on shaky ground because external things can be taken.
It is critical to locate confidence, esteem and worth inside yourself, and build on that.
To build your confidence, use visualizations and affirmations. You can also think of specific times in the past when you felt confident, and acted confidently.
Really get into how you see that in your mind’s eye. Make it bigger and brighter in your mind as you think about the memory. Let your feelings fully associate with your affirmations and visualizations and supportive memories.
Our “good” and “bad” value judgements of past experiences can shape our future expectations. Please remember that the past does not equal the future. You are the creator of your life. Circumstances be damned!