Relationships come in all shapes and sizes, and masters know something about how to make them rich and real. They tap into their network of partners, family, friends, colleagues, God, faith—and come out stronger. The vitality and health of these connections determine the quality of our lives. Here, the Master Class on nurturing this living network, with an invitation to you to reflect and respond in your private notebook.
You cannot survive in this world by yourself.
Masters have at their core a deep sense of self that they stay true to, but they also rely on the strength and support of others to survive and thrive. Who do you turn to for help?
Love liberates. It doesn't just hold—that's ego. Love liberates.
We've all heard the phrase, "If you love someone, set them free." Have you ever been set free? How did that feel different than being held onto? Is there someone in your life you could liberate from a place of love?
What I prayed for is humility—to know that there's something greater than I.
Terence's quote, "I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me," helps Maya Angelou find empathy for others, even in difficult circumstances. How could looking at the people in your life through this lens help you make a deeper connection?
If a human being dares to be bigger than the condition into which she or he was born, it means so can you.
I borrow a little bit from their fearlessness, their strength and their will.
Who are your heroes? What do you "borrow" from them?
Before my pop passed away, I was able to let all those feelings go. The feeling that I have when I think about him now is more freeing than sadness.
Jay-Z held onto his anger toward his father for decades—until his father was dying. Is there anyone you should have a conversation with to free yourself from the baggage of resentment, disappointment or pain? If for any reason a conversation is impossible, could you just drop the baggage—again, for the sake of your freedom?
A criticism is just a really bad way of making a request, so why don't you just make the request?
Did you ever try to request a change of behavior instead of criticizing someone? If so, how did it work out? What did you learn? If not, what's inhibiting you from making a direct request? Fear of the other person's anger, being disappointed she/he can't meet your request or something else?
You want to be able to go flat out and have somebody go, Cliff! Waterfall! Tornado! Banana peel! before you get in trouble.
As soon as you could bring your baby hands to your mouth, you instinctively began tasting everything you could reach, learning which substances tasted poisonous, which were tasty. You were born also with a set of analogous social instincts. As a child, you clearly felt people's affect on you. Some made you feel happy and safe; others scared or repelled you.
Unfortunately, you were soon taught to override your instincts. "Give me a kiss!" adults may have insisted. "Share your toys with little Chris! Be nice!" Bit by bit, you learned not to pull away from poisonous people. Now you may voluntarily interact with people who leave you feeling wounded, betrayed, or confused. You need to re-learn your instincts for keeping toxic people at bay and attracting nourishing relationships. You'll need two skills: Screening and boundary-setting.
Safe, supportive people create an inner 'Yum!'
1. Screening People
This is the mental equivalent of a baby's taste-testing. Whenever you sense someone is lying, hostile, or unsafe, you feel a set of subtle psychological signals that can best be described with one simple word: "Ick!" Safe, supportive people create an inner "Yum!" Their company makes you feel healthier and stronger.
To use your screening instincts, ask yourself, "How do I feel after being with this individual?" (Don't ask how you feel when you're with the person—social triggers override instincts while you're in someone's presence.) The "aftertaste" is your best screening mechanism. Use it to help set boundaries appropriate to your instinctive perceptions.
2. Setting Boundaries
Picture yourself at the center of infinite concentric circles. Someone in the ring next to you can touch you any time. People several circles out can talk to you, but not touch you. Those who are, say, 50 circles from the center have to shout for you to hear them.
Now think of someone you know. Call this person X. Imagine X standing in the circle next to you. If you feel an "Ick!" and want to physically pull back, X is too close. Move X back a circle—or two, or three, or 20—until the "Ick!" subsides. If you feel yourself wanting to lean forward toward X, you've gone too far. Find the distance that feels balanced.
This distance is a rough indication of how much you instinctively trust each person. Keep it in mind when deciding how much time and information you spend with them. If you must spend time with a person you mistrust or dislike, be polite but private. Don't leave your center circle by offering to do things for them or by attacking them. Simply don't engage.
The Nourishing Life
Screening and boundary setting may not seem "nice" to your social mind, but they're the best steps you can take to surround yourself with people who nourish you while relegating toxic people to a distance where they can't poison you. They'll make your social life healthy and delicious. You knew that when you were born. Reclaim your true nature and know it again.
Did this article trigger something in you? Is there a quote you want to save? You can use this space as a private notebook to save your aha! moments.