Generally speaking, getting along with others is just about the hardest thing you’ll ever try to do. And it’s never ending! Sure, there’s bound to be the odd ‘kindred spirit’ who comes along and thank God for them right! But the rest of the world can tax the patience of a saint. The problem is, none of us are saints. We are moms and dads, kids and grandparents, friends, cashiers at stores…….. and nary a saint in the whole crowd!
What if I told you that there is one thing you could do that would make it possible? One change you could make that will smooth away many of the potholes and pitfalls in much of your life journey. Would you be interested? Now that’s not to say that it’s going to be easy! No sirree! Getting along with people can sometimes have a price and in this case, one that kind of goes against some of our most basic instincts.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while lately and I’ve come to some conclusions about getting along with others.
Getting along with folks isn’t any easier just because we’re all older. In fact the ‘rules’ seem more complicated, the results are often less satisfying and it’s infinitely more exhausting at times. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why, the older we get, the fewer close acquaintances and even real friends we have. We just start feeling like we don’t want to be bothered.
Psychologists, who make a very good living by helping us figure out how to get along, listen to us moan and whine about the people we know and love. They make suggestions that prod us into ever deepening self analysis of our own responses.
And if we’re paying attention, we begin to see and understand our own patterns of reactions. They teach us things like, what is passive aggressive, how not to speak over each other, how to acknowledge others ideas. We even learn to really listen to other peoples words, instead of being busy planning our defence for the next break in their flow of opinions. The rules and guidelines of getting along you know. Most importantly, if we’re really paying attention, they help us see that the different opinion isn’t a threat, only a different opinion.
Are you feeling like you need to control everything, including the other guy?
I think it’s a natural part of human nature to feel that we have to have control. It’s probably some kind of inherent life saving function! Control your environment and you live. Lose control and you die. At a primitive, instinctive level, that’s pretty simple and pretty darn motivating for sure! So where does getting along with others fall?
The problem is that on a day to day level, having someone disagree with you feels like sort of an attack or a threat to your ideas or plans, so most of us instantly get defensive! And the best defence is an offence right? A bit of attitude, the rolling eyes, a touch of sarcasm in a reply maybe. One more bruise, one more bloody nose to our ego’s. Or to theirs.
And while there are rules about getting along that can help us do better when it comes to our relationships, more often than not, we either forget or ignore them entirely. Things like building up the other guys’ sense of importance, giving sincere appreciation and hey, avoiding trying to openly reform people! Those are three really obvious ideas out of many. I would say the single great philosophy at the heart of all the rules, is a goal of respecting the next guy. But how do we do that? What one single thing can we do, that shows our respect for them, for their right to be who they are?
Most People Just Want Some Inner Peace!
I think it’s fair to say that most of us are looking for some sort of inner peace or contentment. There are a lot of things that you can control in your life that’ll give you that. Controlling the mess in your house, achieve some degree of inner peace. And you can control the number of times you agree to do things for others, some more inner peace. Then there’s controlling what kind of work you’ll do, what kind of career you’ll pursue and if all goes well, inner peace sort of. You have that level of control in some parts of your life.
But there’s one way for sure, that you won’t have control and most of the time you just have to let the chips fall where they may. That one area, where it’s 50% out of your hands is in getting along with the people you know or meet. We don’t want to be alone so they’re going to be there, but at the same time, ‘they’ insist on being different than us.
In Book 3 of the series, Conversations With God, Neale Donald Walsch writes:
“Love has no requirements. That’s what makes it Love. If your love for another is laden with requirements, then it is not Love at all, but some counterfeit version”.
In a journal that I was keeping at the time, I wrote that down and underneath it I wrote “Shelve your expectations (requirements) for your kids and instead let your love be filled with hope for them. Out of that loving hopefulness, they will find courage and the room they need to explore and achieve the highest level that completes them”.
I wrote that as I was thinking about my adult kids, remembering them as children. It’s easy to think like that when they are little and learning and sorting things out in their minds. It gets tougher though when they grow up. You begin to look at them differently. ‘He’s an adult, he should know better’, or ‘I never taught her that, how could she not do it the right way, the way I showed her’! Or ‘his parents raised him like that? Oh my Gosh!’
What I’ve realized though is that even as our kids grow up and become adults with different goals and ways of doing things in life, the same can be said of every person we know, including ourselves. Friends, family, everyone else. We’re all just exploring the lives that we’ve chosen, different and varied as they are!
Wouldn’t You Rather Just Celebrate Life Bonus’s?
So here’s the thing. In most instances, the opinion’s that we have about the inconsequential things of life won’t change anything. They won’t change because you disagree with how that person dresses or what kind of music they like or the type of books they read. But the relationship itself will change. What harms us all is the expectations that we have of one another.
I think when we expect people to act or be a certain way, and then they don’t, somewhere deep down we take it it’s like a tiny, deliberate snub! Here’s the thing though, …..you can learn …… to quit ……. having …..expectations!
That’s right, I said quit having expectations of each other!
If you make the decision to learn to do that and you quit expecting certain ways of living or dressing or having fun from people, you’re disappointed less often. And if you’re not trying to manage your disappointment or irritation, then it’s a sure bet that getting along becomes a lot easier. The beauty of that idea too, is that when somebody happens to do something that’s pretty much in line with what you would do or think, then it’s like a major life bonus!
There Are Differences in the Non-negotiables of Life and the Things That Aren’t Your Business.
Now I’m not talking about the important expectations okay? Things to do with getting a job and taking care of responsibilities, paying the bills, dog to the vet, that sort of thing. Those are non-negotiable. What is negotiable is all the other stuff. The music thing, how people dress, what kinds of movies they see….even I think, what religion they follow or who they vote for. Those are actually beyond non-negotiable. They are simply none of our business. But if we make it our business, there’s a good chance that the feel-good feeling we all love to have, will never show up or will fizzle fast.
I started thinking like this a couple years ago. And it’s been a process. Sometimes easier than others. But the fact is, most of the time, people don’t want to hurt your feelings. Most of the time, people are pretty considerate. Getting along is as important to everyone else as it is to you.
So when those moments happen that they think something different than you, so what? Do those occasional differences fall into the category of non-negotiable? If not, then forget about it! You’ll have nothing to feel disappointed about and you get to avoid the crushing pain of disappointment or at the very least, uncomfortable feelings of irritation. And that’s always a good thing right?
Control the Things You Can and Let Everything Else Go!
I can’t control anyone else, but I have the power to control how often my feelings get hurt. Getting along with others is easier if you don’t expect them to live up to standards that just aren’t them. We all get to do this life our own way and the sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can begin to know the inner peace that comes from accepting everyone just as they are.
Shelving our expectations of each other is how we start that process. The next step is just getting on with our own lives and doing the best we can in the things we do.
Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your experiences and wisdom on getting along with the people in your life. We’d love to hear about what’s worked for you.
As always, I remind you that while I’ve spent the last 20 years focusing on and learning to ‘grow’ my own health, I’m not a medical doctor. What I’m sharing here is based on my own experiences and the things that I’ve learned from the real experts! Those are the researchers and doctors who’ve seen the actual patients, worked in the labs and write the medical reports.
My goal is to motivate and help you find your best way to live a healthier and more peaceful life. I and Ageless at Sixty cannot be held liable for any resulting injury or adverse change in health status.
As well, this blog and each post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through them, I will receive a commission, at no extra cost to you.