People unaware of who they really are and what they do often damage relationships with others. The way to change that is to look in the mirror and see who you really are. It is something all of us must do – discover the real “me.” Consider what it is we will learn by doing so.
1> The first person I must know is myself – Self-Awareness
Human nature seems to endow people with the ability yo size up everybody in the world but themselves. They simply don’t have a clear image of who they are and thus how other people see them.
Some people are endowed with natural self-awareness. These kinds of people possess interpersonal intelligence. They are naturally aware of who they are, how they come across to others, and how this impacts their relationships.
However, becoming self-aware does not come easily for most people. It is a process – sometimes a slow one – that requires intentionality.
2> The first person I must get along with is myself – Self-Image
If you’re not comfortable with yourself you can’t be comfortable with others. In fact, we can take that even a step further. If you do not believe in yourself, your will sabotage relationships.
Self-image is a relational ceiling. Your image of yourself restricts or enables your ability to build healthy relationships. A negative self-image will even keep a person from being successful. And even when a person with a poor self-image does somehow achieve success, it won’t last because he will eventually bring himself down to the level of his own expectations.
Psychologist Phil McGraw states, “I always say that the most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. You’ve got to be your own best friend first.” How can you be “best friends” with someone you don’t know or don’t like? You can’t. That’s why it is so important to find out who you are and work to become someone you like and respect.
3> The first person to cause me problems is myself – Self-Honesty
Jack Parr stated, “Looking back, my life seems like one big obstacle race, with me being the chief obstacle.” He was making a joke, but what he says is still true for most of us. If we could kick the person responsible for most of our troubles, we wouldn’t be able to sit down for weeks. What can save us is the willingness to look in the mirror and get honest about our short-comings, faults, and problems.
This is the insight I realized early in my ministry and return to often. In most situations, I am the problem. My mentalities, my pictures, my expectations, form the biggest obstacles to my success. If you want to keep from becoming your own worst enemy, you have to look at yourself realistically.
4> The first person I must change is myself – Self-Improvement
People who often experience relational difficulties are tempted to look at everyone but themselves to explain the problem. But we must always begin by examining ourselves and being willing to change whatever deficiencies we find that we have.
Critic Samuel Johnson advised that “he who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief which he purposes to remove.”
5> The first person that can make a difference is myself – Self-Responsibility
If you want to make a difference in this world, you must take responsibility for yourself. Stop blaming others for your problems. Start taking ownership of your attitude, emotions (especially anger), your actions, your words. It is time to grow up and realize that you cannot go through life blaming everything and everyone for what is happening.
Psychotherapist Sheldon Kopp believes “all the significant battles are waged within the self.” As we examine ourselves, we discover what those battles are. And then we have two choices. The first is to be like the man who visited his doctor and found out that he had serious health issues. When the doctor showed him his X-rays and suggested a painful and expensive surgery, the man asked, “Okay, but how much would you charge to just touch up the X-rays?”
The second choice is to stop blaming others, look at ourselves, and do the hard work of resolving the issues that are causing us problems. If you want to have better relationships with others, then stop, look in the mirror, and start working on yourself.