Declare Your Independence From Others’ Opinions

Calling all people-pleasers, approval seekers, validation junkies, emotional chameleons, insecure overachievers, and anyone who wonders how—or whether—they measure up!

To some degree, you most likely see yourself through the eyes of others. The way others feel or the way others treat you impacts how you feel inside.

Are these co-dependent feelings, ironically, reducing the strength of your relationships?


Politics is, perhaps, the best example of humanity seeing itself through the eyes of others. As we’ve witnessed during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, a co-dependent relationship with approval ratings and on debate stages can bring out the worst in people. Candidates trying to keep up with the unpredictable desires of the media and public have resorted to reversing their positions on issues, changing their personality styles and mounting increasingly personal attacks.

From our vantage point, it’s easy to condemn this behavior playing out in the political realm. But are you and I really so different from these politicians? Don’t we shift our stances, adjust our personalities and attack (or retreat) based on what others do around us?

We do it in an effort to gain leverage or to feel important. And, just as it does for the politicians, it almost always backfires. Others like us less for it, and more significantly, we sacrifice our own self-respect in the process.

Sustainable Connections and the “Four Points of Balance”

Relationships of every kind, whether personal or professional, are about connections, how we regard and behave toward each other. These connections reflect varying degrees of intimacy and involvement. In that sense, it’s not surprising that renowned psychologist David Schnarch has some good advice that applies to any relationship that could be weakening under the pressure of co-dependence.

Schnarch says that the key to developing sustained intimacy and desire is for each person to pursue “Four Points of Balance” in their interpersonal emotions:

  1. Solid Flexible Self: Stay clear about what’s really important to you.
  2. Quiet Mind & Calm Heart: Soothe your own emotional bruises.
  3. Grounded Responding: Don’t act impulsively or vindictively.
  4. Meaningful Endurance: Tolerate discomfort for growth.

Schnarch applies the concepts to intimacy in relationships, with the goal of making us healthier and more attractive. But we can apply them to any other personal or professional relationship as well. In all cases, the result is that the relationships become more sustainable and connective.

Imagine politicians continually reminding themselves of what they really value instead of shifting to the whims of the polls. Imagine them remaining calm and steady in the face of anxiety. Imagine them being measured and thoughtful in their responses and being willing to gather feedback and grow.

Imagine those four points in your own personal and work relationships. Imagine not just resigning yourself to the way that you’re “wired” or comfortable or were raised, but instead disconnecting your feelings from the feelings and opinions of others. Imagine you becoming totally true and authentic. Oh how steady and attractive you would really be.

In what relationships do you need to apply the Four Points of Balance?



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