Through the article that appeared in the Daily Mail about my own personal Greek Tragedy I was contacted by many people but one of them has remained in contact. This young man has a loving and united vision for Africa and is looking for like-minded people to support and nurture his idea. Recently I asked him two questions: Would you listen to you? And Would you follow you? Ultimately what I was asking him was ‘would he touch himself’ if he was in the audience of one of his presentations. Is the vision being conveyed in such a way that the people of Africa can relate to it and own it as a dream for themselves and work cohesively towards making it happen?
We are social beings and it is natural for us to gather together to thrive. It’s a built in mechanism in our brains – the drive to connect and belong.
I have belonged to a relationship that was all about supporting the best in each other. Personally I think that’s what all relationships should be – friends, partners, families, workplaces and communities – but I also observe, too often, the complete opposite being the case. Even when relationships start out as supportive and nurturing they don’t always stay that way. When marriages finally end the people in them will frequently say ‘the relationship began to decline years ago but I hung in there hoping it would get better again and be like it used to be.’
Happy relationships touch everyone but so do negative ones.
You’d think it would be easy to bring out the best in others, after all when we love someone we convince ourselves that we want what is best for them. Those words alone, once said, can sustain hope for ages in a relationship. Yet something gets in the way of making those words transfer into actions.
When a person doesn’t know their own worth, can’t see or accept their value and don’t feel secure within themselves, the white ants of our souls seeps in – insecurity, insufficiency and inadequacy. These thoughts sabotage relationships because the person thinking them sabotages themselves. How can you ‘touch yourself’ if the view you hold about you is a negative one? If you filter yourself through insufficiency, inadequacy and insecurity all you will see is your failings. What you offer the world will reflect your self-perception. No-one benefits from this reality.
In Making Sense of the Insensible I finish each chapter with the transformation that is possible when we learn the lessons of an unfair, unjust, hurtful or painful experience. Not once do I say ‘after these experiences you will be transformed into your best self which is filled with anger, bitterness, resentful feelings, holding a grudge and blocking out any new and invigorating experiences into your life again.’ That’s what the spiral down looks like, not the spiral up.
Would you pay to listen to someone stand on stage and whinge, moan and groan about how unfair their life was? Probably not, I’d suspect.
Imagine every conversation you have is you standing on that stage projecting out your view of yourself, your life and how you connect to others. Would you want to listen to that speech? Would you be touched by it?
What is truly amazing, is that the parts of the brain that trigger fear and negativity are also the ones that inspire hope, optimism and positivity – as a species we are all moved by those people who conquer the toughest experiences and come out on top afterwards. We are touched by other people’s stories of survival and overcoming obstacles.
But Chrissy Amphlett sung about how she touched herself. A relationship with ourselves is exactly the same as the one we have with another. Here are some of the lyrics from ‘I touch myself’ that supports this idea. Read them from both what you want from yourself toward yourself as well as from others toward you.
I love myself, I want you to love me
I search myself, I want you to find me
I forget myself, I want you to remind me
Think I would die if you were to ignore me
A fool could see just how much I adore you
I’d get down on my knees, I’d do anything for you
When we love ourselves we have so much more to give to others as we love them. Through every experience we have, we are searching for who we are and defining ourselves. As we evolve we want others to find the newest version we have of ourselves. When others lag behind and keep interacting with us how we used to be, we become disillusioned by the relationship. When we keep repeating our patterns, even when we know better, we find ourselves annoying.
Being in the presence of others who lift us up and encourage, nurture and support us to be our best, helps us find ourselves when we feel lost in the murky side of life. But we also have to be responsible for ourselves and hold ourselves accountable for the things we say, think and do. When we do this, we are reminding ourselves to be our best.
Masaru Emoto conducted a rice experiment in which he proved that being ignored was the most violent act we can do to another. Imagine how much damage we are doing to ourselves as we ignore the calling within. (Unless of course that calling is to kill, maim, or rape others, then tough luck!!) We all have a purpose, a destiny, lessons, and gifts, talents and skills to share with the world. Everyone benefits when we are being our best.
True self-worth, self-respect and self-love are a magnet to others. That’s not the same as boasting, big egos and superiority. Most of us tire quickly of those projections from others because underneath they don’t really value themselves. But enjoying being all we can be is captivating.
Many will do anything for others and yet do very little to take care of themselves. It’s a false sense of personal power – they have the ability to act but not on their own behalf. True service stems from first taking care of ourselves so we can give freely to others. Too many confuse it with sacrifice – others coming first at a cost to us. This only leads to burnout and exhaustion and often suppressed resentment.
The message is clear from Chrissy Amphlett – when you come from a centre of self-love, respect and worth you will touch yourself and through your presence of security, adequacy, and sufficiency you will touch others.
What are you going to do this week to touch yourself?