In dealing with other people, there will inevitably come a time when we run into disagreements. In such situations, we have a choice: to either see them as people with their own needs, objectives, and challenges or to see an obstacle in our way that we need to eliminate. When we choose the former (what we call approaching our relationships with an Outward Mindset), we act in ways that are naturally helpful to our relationship. It is when we choose the see the other person as an object (what we call approaching relationships with an Inward Mindset) that we need to come up with all sorts of justifications. What follows is a series of behaviors that tend to make matters worse:
- We contribute to violence. Perhaps not the physical type, but emotional: making others submit to us by inducing fear, shame, and/or guilt.
- We become vindictive. Rather than trying to offer understanding, we plot revenge.
- We become immeasurably self-righteous. Our focus is drawn towards justifying ourselves- why we are right and blaming others- why they are the ones who need to apologize and change their ways.
- We punish those who aren’t at fault (especially ones who are near and dear to us) by channeling our frustration towards these people, especially when they might try to suggest that we take an honest look at our own contributions to the problem we are complaining about.
- We become uncurious about why others did as they did. We attribute their actions to poor intentions rather than seeing them as a person (just like us) who has their own needs, objectives, and challenges.
- Instead of working on overcoming our feelings of jealousy and inadequacies, we resort to tearing down those who we feel might be doing better than us. We do this by inflating their flaws and making a victim out of ourselves.
- We believe that expressing sincere gratitude might make us vulnerable to those we depend on and thus, operate from a place of wanting to safe-guard ourselves.
With an inward mindset, it is like being stuck in a box- we just don’t see clearly. We make everything about us. As a result, our ‘solutions’ to problems tend to make matters worse. We trigger frustration in others and therefore play a big part in perpetuating a series of blame and justifications that fuel disconnection in our relationships.
Sagar Satyal is co-founder of My Emotions Matter and can be reached at [email protected]