In a previous post, How To Pull Good Things Out Of Others, I wrote (to paraphrase): "Who we are turns out to be largely a function of who we’re with. Have you ever noticed, for example, how you feel and behave one way with your family and another with your friends—and yet another with your co-workers and boss? Those around us exert far more of an influence on who we are than we perhaps realize—not by their conscious intention, but by being who they are themselves. (How often, for example, do you want to be loving and kind toward your spouse only to be left feeling cold and bitter by his lack of gratitude? Or fun-loving and silly with your children only to be left irritated and mean-spirited by their temper tantrums?) And as who other people are themselves is just as profoundly influenced by who we are, the people we spend our time being is ultimately influenced by how we influence the people around us."
I went on to say, "So if we want to be our best selves, the selves we ourselves like the most, we should first aim to pull the best selves we can out of the people around us. If we want to be warm toward others, for example, we should figure out what others do to trigger our warmth and trigger them to trigger it. If we want to be courageous, we should figure out what other people do to make us feel brave and trigger them to trigger that."
What I didn't do in that post, however, is describe just how one triggers others to trigger one's own best self. So I thought I'd take a crack at it in this one:
It may seem like too much work, this list. But the truth is you're probably already following it to some degree without realizing it. Who among us hasn't paused to consider how our actions will impact someone else and adjusted them based on his prediction? I'm simply arguing to systematize the process, to become conscious in its application, specifically with the people who have the most influence over who we are, and not just to get the reactions we want but to influence how we ourselves react in turn. Because by doing that, we'll have found a way to more consistently be who we want to be, and thus like ourselves more.
Dr. Lickerman's new book The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self is available now. Please read the sample chapter and visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble to order your copy today!