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Published:May 25th, 2010 18:49 EST
Relationships (Part Eight)

Relationships (Part Eight)

By Ignatius Fernandez

 "Many people do not realize that real and healthy love for others begins with understanding yourself, being able to accept and respect yourself. If you do not like yourself because of what you know about yourself, if you do not have confidence in your moral integrity, you are going to have trouble with people."
                                                                                                                        Dale Oldman

From Oldman`s words two points emerge: 1) That love for self is not taboo, as long as it is balanced, and  2) that love for self should be based on moral integrity. Someone who suspects his own motives is likely to suspects the words and actions of others. The inference is that a relationship with such people is risky.

Such people choose lusting - self gratification - over the other option of loving, which is seeking the happiness of others. Lusting is the `I only` approach; loving is the `you and I` approach. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Pope John XXIII, Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi were some who did not seek personal gratification. For them, having a good life was not equal to having a good time. They did not experience tension between lusting and loving, because their choice was clear. Their love and service rejected the question: What am I getting out of it?

Making the clear choice, they reinforced the tenet that personal growth and healing can come only through enduring relationships that teach us, even as they enrich us. Put differently, I need my neighbor as much as he needs me. My neighbor and I are two sides of the same coin. We cannot live apart. In lucid words, John Powell explains the interdependence: Our lives are shaped by those who love us and those who refuse to love us.

Why do we find some people lovable, and why do some people find us lovable? The answer is in the term personality. The personality of a person attracts others if it is pleasing. Manoj Sharma defines personality as the sum of different parts: Your personality can be defined as the amalgamation of your inborn predispositions, acquired habits and adapted mechanisms. He adds that personality makes one person different from others. In different words, Manoj Sharma is telling us that our personalities are the products of two kinds of programming - Social and Individual. Right from infancy through childhood,adolescence and early adulthood, we are programmed mostly by parents and others in our Social circle. As we grow in the different phases of our lives, we begin to accept, reject or accept in part the Social Programming we received. That is when Individual Programming takes over. The twin influences shape our personalities. Each person is shaped differently because of the pulls and pressures each faces in his/her situation. No two situations are the same; no two experiences are the same; no two responses to the experiences are the same. That is why no two personalities are the same.

To attract others into a relationship our personalities have to be pleasing. We recognize a pleasing personality by the way he walks, talks, the tone of his voice, the warmth of his behavior, the way he carries himself and the level of his confidence. Some people do not lose their pleasing ways even with advancing years, because their goodness comes from the heart, that refuses to yield to negative influences, and not from put-on habits. A pleasing personality combines strong beliefs with the right attitudes and disciplined behavior. It takes a lot more than a shoeshine and manicure to give a person polish. Charming manners may disguise poor character in the short term, but in the long term only sterling character can pass the test. Charisma without character is like having good looks without goodness. When a person`s character is sound, moral integrity comes through his words and actions and a strong self-image is seen.

Such a person is unafraid because there is no duplicity in what he does; that gives him peace. There is a stamp of robust confidence in his manner. Seeing that, those around him want to befriend him. Like the lamp that is put on the lamp-stand, he shines for all to see. He is strong. Therefore he can lend strength to others. He can make others feel good. It is only the weak person who is reluctant to make others feel good, because he fears he will be diminished. Since the strong man has no such fears he can transact with ease and confidence, spreading goodwill.

No wonder Bertrand Russell wrote: A man cannot possibly be at peace with others until he has learned to be at peace with himself.

Relationships (Part Seven) - Why do we shun a loving God, when all He wants is to bless us, if only we have eyes to see and a mind to know?

Relationships (Part six) - Break the big task of CHANGE into many small tasks, to accomplish each.




Relationships (Part Five) - Unless we find pleasure in the pain of forgiving and receiving forgiveness, our relationships will suffer.

Relationships (Part Four) - The choice rests with us on building or breaking relationships. We cannot absolve ourselves of the consequences that follow the wrong choices we make.

Relationships (Part Three) - In a relationship, communication is important. And in communication, attitude is paramount.

Relationships (Part Two) - My relationships will depend on making myself attractive to others and looking for goodness in them.

Relationships (Part One) - Relationships are about giving, because the measure you give is the measure you will get.