Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘The Social Animal’

Are You In a Dependent Relationship?

I have written about the four different types of love that were identified by the Greeks hundreds of years ago (see blog archive 8/16/15). Their point as reiterated by David Brooks in his book, The Social Animal,” was that for love to be everlasting all four types of love need to develop in relationships over time. That makes sense. Once the initial physical attraction is experienced, deep love like the flowering of a rose takes time to tend and nurture to full bloom as it celebrates the individual strengths of each other.

But what happens if the Philemon type of love – the platonic, friendship type of love you have with a best friend seems to be difficult to juggle as you spend more time with your new found love? Let’s first look at what causes two people to become best friends. Shared interests, respect, admiration and concern all rank high on the list of factors.

However, once in a while this type of love can devolve into a needy, unhealthy type of dependent relationship. When you share your excitement about this special person in your life with your best friend and you hear subtle demands that infiltrate into your relationship such as wanting to know when they will see you again it’s time to consider the possibility that this could be a type of co-dependency. Maybe – maybe not – but for sure sharing you is not something they want to do. The label itself is less important than the recognition of the signs involved.

Any dependency is usually rooted in childhood and these individuals often become ‘survivors’ that exhibit fear, anger, pain or shame which was ignored or denied early on in life. These feelings begin to color their world over time since dependency is a learned behavior. The more it is practiced the stronger it becomes. The friendships they develop are more need than mere want but they simply don’t see it since abandonment is a constant issue.

The good news is that by recognizing dependency and learning more about the signs and signals it can be overcome and replaced by confidence and trust in one’s own ability to thrive in future healthy, loving relationships regardless of what happened in childhood.

How do you know if a relationship of dependency exists? Let’s look at some other possible indicators. Is there a pressure to touch base frequently – fearing anger or hurt exhibited from the other person if you are not in constant contact? In reality, best friends can go days, weeks, or months without touching base but still know the other person cares for them and has their best interest at heart.

If you experience feelings of rejection when you spend time with someone other than the dependent friend and it results in pouting, temporary withdrawal or outright anger until they have your attention once again – you can be sure dependency exists.

Other indicators of co-dependent people are their difficulty talking with people in authority, making decisions, handling pressure regarding time frames for completion of tasks, difficulty or even rigidity in adjusting to change, feelings of inadequacy, and an inability to share their feelings – especially with family members. Basically, they have low self-esteem often due to their early upbringing.

If you are involved in this type of relationship at first you may feel a sense of importance by ‘being needed.’ Unfortunately, your attention and constant concern or attempt to do more than your share does not help since this behavior can become compulsive and self-defeating as the reliance increases. In essence, both parties start to develop a view of ‘us against the world’ and the dependency increases.

As stated, the good news is that when the dependency is recognized and steps are taken to readjust the invasive nature of this type of relationship personal growth is experienced by both parties and over time an even higher level of friendship develops. Sometimes it takes a best friend to get their attention and even professional to unearth the need for dependency.

When you really care about another you want the best for them. Moving from dependency to independence is the best gift you can gift yourself and the other person. The Philemon type of love is a critical element in best friends as well as deeper love relationships.

Have a great few days!

Have you ever been wrong?

David Brooks makes a point in his book, ‘The Social Animal’ that we are more alike in our thinking as human beings than we might believe. This idea was expanded upon in an article recently in ‘The Week’ magazine. The thought provoking questions posed by the later article made me stop and think about how I have formed my ideas and positions over the years. Have I changed my mind on things or seriously thought about why I believe as I do regarding political, social or environmental issues? Or have I simply been reading and searching for things that will verify ‘my’ truth.

To challenge my own opinions, I have chosen to read and listen to ideas from ‘the other side.’ We all know that the ‘other side’ is anything and everything that doesn’t support our own world view. I must say, I have found that some of the information can seriously disrupt my mindset! Yet, isn’t that the purpose of this incredible thing we call our brain. To take in information from varied sources and let those thoughts roll around in our mind for awhile so we develop a deeper understanding or even a new way of thinking? Maybe this is what is meant by life-long learning.

Over the next 16 months we will be deluged with political adds, speeches and hopefully, substantial debates. The question remains if we will occasionally choose to tune into a channel that we know has a view that is different from our own in order to hear viewpoints that we may disagree with at first blush. When you think about it we have nothing to lose and everything to gain – information is a powerful thing!

Our ideological choices and affiliations are important. Yet, in a country that emphasizes the rights of the individual it seems not only important but an obligation to stretch our comfort zone and consider a different way of looking at something. The result may be that we continue to hold our existing beliefs sacred but at least we will feel more confident in knowing why.

Anyone running for a political office over the next year and a half would be wise to remember that the fact checkers from the national T.V. channels are alive and well and will be quick to point out the error in any statement. In the spirit of full disclosure sometimes fact checkers are our greatest hope. The beauty of this is that much of our work sorting through the ‘he said, she said’ statements will be done for us. Our challenge, as individuals, is whether or not we are willing to be influenced by new information.

As the writer, Peter Wehner in CommentaryMagazine.com said it basically boils down to being brave enough to ask ourselves “Do you think you have ever been wrong?”

Have a great few days!

There’s More to Success than IQ!

We have all known people who are exceptionally intelligent and successful. They seem to succeed at whatever they put their mind to and relish in the hard work it takes to achieve. They have learned about different management strategies such as Six Sigma, JIT (just in time), TRIZ, the list goes on and on. Each year people trained in the newest management or leadership approaches are hired by organizations who are convinced they have finally found the Holy Grail and now their organization will soar. They think they have found people who can make decisions at the speed of electrons. Often they are told by the trainers of these new approaches to hire the best and often what that means are those folks who have graduated from an highly elite institution, maintained high grades and received the best scores on tests such as the SAT OR ACT. Ahhh if it were only that easy. One famous longitudinal study entitled the Terman study followed a group of highly intelligent people – with IQ’s of 135 or above – expecting them to win illustrious awards such as a Pulitzer, MacArthur or similar award in their fields. Most often they did not. As you may have guessed by now …there is more to the story than the latest leadership fad and IQ.

What they discovered over time was that once a person crosses the IQ threshold of 120 there is little relationship between higher intelligence and better performance. (you may want to read that last sentence again since it is so contrary to what we have heard all of our lives!) More recently than the Terman study, Macolm Gladwell who wrote ‘Outliers’ among many other outstanding books found those who won Nobel prizes in Chemistry or Medicine did NOT often go to the top of the rock type of schools. Rather they went to good schools and worked very hard.

The take away for us is that intelligence is a piece of the puzzle but certain character traits and dispositions make even more of the difference for success. Honesty, rigorous thinking about a problem before making a decision, fair-mindedness, discipline, imagination, sensitivity and the ability to see nuances – avoid black or white thinking – and of course, above all, a strong work ethic really fill out the puzzle and create a beautiful landscape of future success for those willing to work for it.

Regardless of how we score on an IQ test these character traits make us successful or not at whatever we pursue in life. The great news is that we can work to develop them on a daily basis!

Have a great few days!