Enlightened Living

Meaning and mindfulness in everyday life

Authenticity in Relationship and How Objectification Devalues Us

Putting someone on a pedestal diminishes them…and you

The playing field is always level. We can easily lose sight of this, commonly diminishing ourselves in reflection of another who may make us feel less than who we are, whether by virtue of their actions or the programming that we carry with us. By contrast, we often idealize another, telling ourselves a story of who we think they are by virtue of whom it is that we wish them to be. In either case, everyone loses because, in point of fact, there is no cause or call for that competition - real or imagined -- in the first place.

When we idealize another, we diminish them. We reduce them from their state of perfectly human humanity to something less - an object. The same can be said of ourselves. When we lose sight of ourselves - particularly in reflection of another - we reduce ourselves from a whole to a collection of parts; we self-objectify.

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In some ways this tendency toward objectification makes perfect sense, as the thread of myth, archetype and the constructs suggested by object relations theory all point to the necessary components that inform our understanding of the social construction of reality. Where we fall short is in confusing the person with the object, the reality with the ideal or the antithesis. The attraction of this for us is, in large measure, the engine that drives what someone has referred to as the "pornification" of post-modern culture.

The wisdom teachings tell us that when we look into the eyes of another, we are looking at a reflection of ourselves because, as we are all divine, we are always looking into the eyes of God.

Quantum mechanics tells us that when we look into the eyes of another, we are looking at a reflection of ourselves because, as the universe is a single unified field of existence, we are all made of the same "stuff".

Clearly, these two views intersect. In service of quantum evolution and integral psychology, we too would be well served in acknowledging the idea that "I am one, you are one, we are altogether one" -- whether we approach that construct from the purview of physics, metaphysics, spirituality, psychology or any of the cross-pollinated variation thereof.

How this acknowledgement then serves us is by providing us with a stage for authenticity in our relationships. If we see the person, not the object - the reality, not the ideal or the antithesis - then we dwell in truth. In that truth, we are in a place to accept and reflect not only the perfection, but the imperfection in both ourselves and others. In this, we see things as they are, and do not fall pray to digging the pit for ourselves that creates the pedestal for the other.

When we put someone on a pedestal, we are not doing that at all, but, rather, we are digging a pit for ourselves. In other words, they don't move from the level playing field of social relationship, but we end up beneath it, by virtue of our own misguided hand. We diminish ourselves by idealizing another, and they are diminished because we see them as something that they are not.

In backing away from this tendency to either idealize another or diminish ourselves, we turn the tide against the potential for a social relationship to devolve into a psychosocially sadomasochistic and/or codependent mess. Plainly put, we take out the "crazy" and deflect the chaos that can only lead us down the garden path of our own inauthenticity.

 

© 2010 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

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Michael J. Formica, M.S., M.A., Ed.M., is a psychotherapist, teacher and writer. He is an Initiate in the Shankya Yoga lineage of H.H. Sri Swami Rama and the Himalayan Masters.

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