I: Learning a positive outlook on relationships and different people.
I firmly believe people have far more similarities than they have differences. This goes for different races, cultures, genders and age groups. All are far more similar than they are different, but people fail to see that because they are programmed to downplay the similarities while emphasizing differences far more, creating an illusion of a greater rift than actually exists.
Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must hate or fear them. The second is to love someone means you agree with everything they believe and do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
We meet no ordinary people in our lives.
-C. S. Lewis
I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.
People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.
-Carl R. Rogers
The greatest danger you face is your general assumption that you really understand people and that you can quickly judge and categorize them. Instead, you must begin with the assumption that you are ignorant and that you have natural biases that will make you judge people incorrectly. The people around you present a mask that suits their purposes. You mistake the mask for reality. Let go of your tendency to make snap judgments. Open your mind to seeing people in a new light. Do not assume that you are similar or that they share your values. Each person you meet is like an undiscovered country, with a very particular psychological chemistry that you will carefully explore. You are more than ready to be surprised by what you uncover.
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
We discover in ourselves what others hide from us and we recognize in others what we hide from ourselves.
What angers us in another person is more often than not an unhealed aspect of ourselves. If we had already resolved that particular issue, we would not be irritated by its reflection back to us.
-Simon Peter Fuller
Once a construct becomes part of a person’s cognitive structure, it potentially can be applied to anything. Thus, whatever constructs one applies to others are potentially applicable to the self, and vice versa: “One cannot call another person a bastard without making bastardy a dimension of his own life also."
We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.
Hurt people hurt people. That’s how pain patterns gets passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.
A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.
The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.
II: The "Passion Trap".
The very urge to attract someone, to bring another person under your emotional control, contains the potential for upsetting the balance of the relationship. And that is because the feeling of being in love is biochemically linked to the feeling of being out of control. Once you feel completely in control or sure of another person’s love, your feelings of passion begin to fade. Gone is the challenge, the emotional spark, the excitement.
-Dean C. Delis (The Passion Trap)
Even the most beautiful scenery is no longer assured of our love after we have lived in it for three months, and some distant coast attracts our avarice: possessions are generally diminished by possession…
Some people don’t appreciate what they have until it's gone.
III: The perils of neediness in relationships.
Like anything, the less you need, chase and prioritize external validation, the more it’s offered to you, similar to how banks and credit cards want to lend money to the people who need it the least. Meanwhile the more you need, chase and prioritize external validation, the more you alienate people and breed distrust, resentment and burned bridges in the long run.
If you are a needy person in a relationship then that probably occurs because you transfer responsibility for feeling good to your partner. If they come through for you then you feel good and if they don’t then you feel bad. When you feel bad you then start to look for ways to get the other person to fulfill your desires for you. Whatever you do is a form of manipulation. It might be done in a negative way with disapproval, anger, resentment, bitterness or it might be done in a helpless way by getting sad, depressed and desperate.
In general, this vibe of unconditional happiness is very attractive. When people see that I’m going to be happy no matter what and that I truly don’t need anything from them, they naturally want to spend time together. And these connections are easy, flowing, and graceful. It’s easy to feel comfortable around people who truly don’t need anything from you.
People who are needy or codependent, have a desperate need for love and affection from others. To receive this love and affection, they sacrifice their identity and remove their boundaries. (Ironically, it’s the lack of identity and boundaries that makes them unattractive to most people.)
You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.
IV: Understanding the other persons' perspective.
We begin to learn wisely when we're willing to see world from other people's perspective.
People are primarily interested in themselves, not you. Putting this same thought another way — the other person is ten thousand times more interested in himself than he is [in] you.
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
If there is any one secret of success it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as yours.
Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Overtly communicating a desire for reciprocal desire creates obligation, and sometimes even ultimatums. Genuine desire is something a person must come to – or be led to – on their own volition.
It is nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.
V: On taking action.
If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. / A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want.
-Nora Roberts / Madonna
The more Resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you – and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it…
Courage is not the absence of fear, rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
Taking action and conquering fears and insecurities always improves your sense of self-confidence.
-Alan Roger Currie
Confidence is not nearly as important as courage. And feeling like you can pull it off is not nearly as important as acting like you can.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
It's easy to attack and criticize someone while he or she is risk-taking — voicing an unpopular opinion or sharing a new creation with the world or trying something new that he or she hasn't quite mastered. Cruelty is cheap, easy, and rampant. It's also chicken-shit. Especially when you attack and criticize anonymously - like technology allows so many people to do these days.
VI: On making new friends.
The main points of the 'good business' analogy are simply this, and it goes for all relationships whether business, platonic or romantic: Make it a numbers game and attract as many qualified applicants as possible. Screen firmly and quickly but fairly. Don’t ignore or minimize the red flags that show up early, only to have to deal with far later in the process when they become way more difficult to deal with. And be vigilant about recognizing and terminating the lost causes who do manage to get their foot in the door.
VII: On communicating sexual intentions.
This is the problem with society: There are too many women (and even men too) who want to listen to pleasant lies rather than raw, real truth. And men and women wonder why so many members of the opposite sex engage in manipulative head games with one another. Men and women are always going to tell you pleasant lies if they feel there are undesirable consequences attached to telling the truth. The end result is the brash, bold truth-tellers are being branded as the ‘bad guys’ in the dating and relationships arena while the smooth-talking liars and skilled manipulators are being perceived as ‘well-mannered,’ ‘respectful,’ and tactful.
-Alan Roger Currie
Most women are 'addicted' to pleasant lies and flattery. It is much more palatable for a woman's ears to hear, "You are so beautiful ... the type of woman I want to spend the rest of my life with" rather than for that same man to say, "The only reason I am conversing with you right now is because I want to exchange orgasms with you."
-Alan Roger Currie
I had a woman at one of my book signing events in 2007 admit to me that she fell into the third category of female manipulators (i.e., Attention Whores, Dick Teasers, etc). She said, “Alan … I’m going to be honest. I never tell my male [platonic] friends straightforwardly that they will never, ever get the opportunity to date me or have sex with me. Never. If I did that, probably 90% of my male friends would stop calling me and stop hanging out with me socially. So, I would never be stupid enough to destroy their hopes.”
-Alan Roger Currie
Most of the world’s problems could be avoided if people just said what they fucking meant.
VIII: Vulnerability and being 'yourself'.
Love comes when manipulation stops; When you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.
I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.
What other people think of me is none of my business.
Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn't require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.
Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
Think about it. How many times have you been around friends, family, and/or social acquaintances, and have felt the desire to exhibit free-spirited, uninhibited behavior, only to be held back by the paralyzing fear of being criticized, 'looked at funny,' reprimanded, disliked, or causing others to feel uncomfortable?
-Alan Roger Currie
Good improvisers seem telepathic; everything looks pre-arranged, This is because they accept all offers made—which is something no ‘normal’ person would do.
"Sanity is actually a pretence, a way we learn to behave. We keep this pretence up because we dont want to be rejected by other people - and being classified insane is to be shut out of the group in a very complete way.
Most people I meet are secretly convinced that they're a little crazier than the average person. People understand the energy necessary to maintain their own shields, but not the energy expended by other people. They understand that their own sanity is a performance, but when confronted by other people they confuse the person with the role.
Sanity has nothing directly to do with the way you think. Its a matter of presenting yourself as safe."
-Keith Johnstone (Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre)
Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.
[R]eal intimacy comes not from telling about yourself—your childhood, your relationships, your health problems, etc.—but from joint creativity, which brings out your true qualities, invites you to show that aspect of yourself needed for the task at hand. Later, when intimacy has developed, telling about oneself may come naturally—or it may not even be necessary.
We are in a culture that demands authenticity from others... then punishes them when their authenticity doesn’t conform to the norms of the culture.
People are willing to remove their mask if they feel safe from judgment about who they are. The effect of a judgmental culture is that people put on stronger masks that they rarely remove. And this creates mass conformity to norms that few actually agree with.
Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing
IX: Relationship myths.
The 'women don't like nice guys' idea is a myth. When most guys are acting "nice," what they're really doing is being inauthentic and people-pleasing in order to be liked. So that's not being nice; it's being selfish.
Sometimes being too nice is dangerous; you have to show your mean side once in a while to avoid getting hurt.
XI: Human touch
A hug can turn your day around, it’s like an emotional Heimlich. Someone puts their arms around you, and they give you a squeeze and all your fear and anxiety comes shooting out of your mouth, and you can breathe again.
"Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It's a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it's the thing that's really preventing us from taking flight.
Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. Most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect. Healthy striving is self-focused – How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused – What will they think?
Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critial to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life-paralysis. Life-paralysis refers to all of the opportunities we miss because we're too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect."
"Shame works like the zoom lens on a camera. When we are feeling shame, the camera is zoomed in tight and all we see is our flawed selves, alone and struggling. We think to ourselves, I'm the only one with a muffin-top? Am I the only one not having sex 4.3 times per week (with a Calvin Klein model)? Something is wrong with me. I am alone.
When we zoom out, we start to see a completely different picture. We see many people in the same struggle. Rather than thinking, I'm the only one, we start thinking, I can't believe it! You too? I'm normal? I thought it was just me!"
“Nobody goes through this life and does everything perfectly. We're all gonna fail so you might as well make a mistake with me”
-Brad Paisley (Make A Mistake With Me, song)
XIII: On being helpful
Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again and you will be filled with joy.
A man’s true wealth is the good he does in this world.
Love your neighbour as you love yourself.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
XIV: Scientific perspectives on relationships.
Existing evidence supports the hypothesis that the need to belong is a powerful, fundamental, and extremely pervasive motivation.
Social proximity and interaction attenuate cardiovascular arousal, facilitate the development of nonanxious temperament, inhibit the release of stress hormones, reduce threat-related neural activation, and generally promote health and longevity. Conversely, social subordination, rejection and isolation are powerful sources of stress and compromised health. Drawing on the biological principle of economy of action, perception/action links, and the brain’s propensity to act as a Bayesian predictor, Social Baseline Theory (SBT) proposes that the primary ecology to which human beings are adapted is one that is rich with other humans. Moreover, SBT suggests that the presence of other people helps individuals to conserve important and often metabolically costly somatic and neural resources through the social regulation of emotion.
People naturally crave social acceptance and loathe social exclusion.
The need to belong is deeply rooted in evolutionary history, and people
who have satisfied their need to belong enjoy immense benefits for their
physical and mental well-being. The need to belong can thus be
considered a fundamental element of personality processes. Indeed, it is
possible that most thoughts people have, emotions they feel, or
behaviors in which they engage are (consciously or unconsciously)
motivated by how each response can satisfy the need to belong. People
think positive thoughts about others because doing so solidifies a sense
of connection with them, feel anxious when others may reject them, and
behave prosocially to gain public recognition or new friends. Therefore,
the need to belong is a cornerstone of personality processes, touching
many cognitive, emotional, and behavioral outcomes.
-DeWall et al. (2011)
XV: Importance of human relationships (non-scientific).
Of the things which wisdom provides for the blessedness of one’s whole life, by far the greatest is the possession of friendship.
"What really matters in our lives is the friendships we make, it's the people who care about us and we care about them. It's the bonds that we establish to these day-to-day interactions with the people we work with, that we play with, that we love, that we interact with, whether it's business, whether it's in our social lives, whether it's our hobbies, our religion.
Those personal interactions, those are the essence of life. It's not how much money you make, it's not how many promotions you get, it's not how many cars you'd have, how fancy they are, how big are your houses. Those things, they don't give us real satisfaction. The source of real satisfaction are the human connections that we make with others, and we only make those by restraining ourselves from our natural self-interest, and remembering that we are small and the world is large, and we have to deal with other people, and it is not just about you, it's about all of us."
- Russ Roberts (EconTalker)