Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that what other people think about you is none of your business, isn’t it?
We often have relationship problems because other people want us to change, and we are either unwilling or it is not in our natures. Is it a stalemate or a growth point? Likely it has potential for both.
My office is just off the two-story foyer of a lovely corner building. The majority of the offices are on the second floor. Not all tenants use the front door to go to work as they come in from the garage. This leads to the front door of the building often being left unlocked overnight, which is not good. One day, I asked one of the tenants whom I had not met about the issue. I explained the problem and he started yelling at me, telling me that I shouldn’t be accusing him of leaving it unlocked. It was one of those bizarre experiences: I’m talking problem-solving, he’s talking blame and outrage. Maybe you’ve had such a strange conversation. The upshot of it was that he said some very unpleasant things, even though I repeatedly said I was just asking his help with maintaining the safety of the building.
So, here we are, a year later. This past week, I stepped out of my office on the way to the restroom and he was coming in from the garage. I said, “Good Morning” and he gave me a filthy look and walked upstairs. It was surprising that he continues to harbor his judgments. I realized, though, that I will never stop greeting him, no matter what he does. Why? Because that is who I am, I greet people I see. What he choose to do is simply information about him. That’s who he is, a person who doesn’t greet people.
What’s interesting is that I happened to meet him in the garden store yesterday. He almost smiled at me as he seemed to just see someone he knew. He quickly caught himself, though, as I said “Hello” and remembered the context of our relationship. Until that second, I simply was a familiar face. He didn’t’ answer me, but he didn’t give me a filthy look, either. Maybe there was progress.
Who you are is what you do, regardless of what others do. It’s about who I choose to be, not who they want me to be. It’s a big lesson.
In our love relationships, hopefully, we were honest from the beginning, being our real selves rather than endeavoring to mold ourselves into someone the other would like and approve of. If not, there are likely going to be relationship problems. We might feel betrayed or cheated. We might feel like an impostor, or like we are living with one. Add to that a lack of communication or conflict management ability and those problems will multiply.
If this describes something you’ve experienced, stop and do your own work first. Who are you? What do you value? What is your vision of your life, your relationship? What are your beliefs? What is your purpose? When your life is aligned with the clarity you have about your values, vision, beliefs and purpose, you know you are living honestly, authentically. Only then will you be able to enter into a relationship based on what is real. Many folks I work with have had to reconstruct their relationship by doing this work. It’s the only way you can have the depth of love you seek and the breadth of love you have to give.
In our book, Soul Solitude: Taking Time for Our Souls to Catch Up, we talk about creating relationships built on who we really are, not on the roles we fulfill. If you have a relationship problem, you might find value in reading it.