Interpersonal Relationship Questions

by Mark Ivar Myhre on October 15, 2011

“Interpersonal relationship questions”.

Sounds like some big company’s mandatory training seminar for all employees… but in this case it’s just an answer to a reader’s question, which could be summarized as –

“How do I deal with other people at work in the most effective way possible?”

First, let’s start with you; your relationship with yourself. Because that’s going to determine your relationship with everyone else.

Examining and working with your relationship with yourself is most likely a big part of why you were even born.

To learn to love yourself as much as possible. To accept yourself with all your foibles and idiosyncrasies. To respect and value yourself as a spiritual being. To be kind and forgiving to yourself.

To sum it up, to be your own best friend.

And to let that relationship come alive – let it be real. Let it grow and evolve and be and express the dynamic energy it is.  To be able to exclaim, “I love myself!” and really mean it. And not in a narrow, narcissistic way either, obviously.

Listen, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to screw up. You’re going to do dumb things every now and then. We all do. Because we’re human.

You’re going to be embarrassed and humiliated sometimes, and it’ll be uncomfortable. But we have to let it be okay. Otherwise, we rob ourselves. We deny ourselves the opportunity to grow and change and evolve.

“I am a work in progress.”

You see, when you get stuck in life, somewhere at the root of it, lies a faulty relationship with self. I’m not loving and forgiving myself enough. Because if I were, I would be growing and changing. I would be overcoming the ‘stuckness’.

So how do you have the perfect relationship with yourself? You don’t. That’s a trick question. Why? Because perfection is static. And any relationship is dynamic. (Unless it’s dead.)

You can be perfectly dead, but not perfectly alive.

No, what you want is a living relationship – a real and authentic relationship with yourself. And if it’s real, there’s going to be some spilled milk along the way.

Let it be okay that you’re a human!

How do you do that? YOU CHOOSE. First, you’re willing to let it be okay, then you choose to let it be okay that you’re a human. That’s it. It’s almost too easy.

The problem is we think anything worth having in life must come through struggle and suffering. And this is the exact opposite. When you suffer and struggle you’re saying it’s not okay to be human.

But when you embrace yourself – when you love and accept yourself – then why would you suffer and struggle? It makes no sense.

Now I understand, we’ve been programmed almost since the day we were born, that we have to struggle and suffer and endure great pain. It’s been pounded into our heads in many different ways that we must grind it out – gut it out – try harder – endure more.

“Anything worth having is worth fighting for.” Or however the saying goes.

I’m saying, now might be a good time to question those assumptions. Are they really taking you where you want to go? Are those assumptions really working for you?

We’ve been intensely programmed. If you want to change those assumptions, you’ll need to get in touch with that intensity. But you are worth it. So…

Besides, that’s a big part of why we’re here – to overcome our own programming and heal our relationship with ourselves. Programming that involves being told to ‘love yourself’ – but taught to ‘not love yourself’.

Now, for the second most important relationship you have – the one most people don’t want to look at – the one with your ego.

Pretty much everyone can rally around the idea that you need to improve your relationship with yourself. Even if we don’t do it and don’t know how, for the most part we know we ‘should’. But a relationship with your ego? That doesn’t even make sense.

And that’s just the way the ego wants it. It will tell you anything to get you to not look at it. Which should be a clue as to how important it really is to look at it.

Your ego is like a tiny little version of you that sits on your shoulder. Always whispering in your ear. Can you hear it? Listen closely. It’s there, believe me. And it’s always whispering to you.

Always talking to you. Always telling you what’s going on. Always interpreting reality for you.

It will be talking to you your whole life. It always has, and it always will. As long as you’re in a human body, you will have an ego. So what is it?

Your ego is the part of your consciousness that serves as the eyes and ears for your mind, just as your real eyes and ears serve your brain. The job of the ego is to bring you data. Your job is to interpret the data.

Unfortunately, something goes wrong. We end up shaming our ego because we ourselves were shamed. Our parents or parenting figures put their shame into us in some way, and we tried to dump it onto our egos, because that was about all we could do.

The ego, with a mind of its own, starts to resent us and wants to hurt us. And the only way it can do that is by twisting and distorting the data it gives us.   In other words, by lying to us.  Which it can only do if we let it.

These last few paragraphs summarize one of the greatest relationship challenges any person will ever face in their whole lifetime.

Your ego also functions as ‘the mirror of self’. It allows you to reflect yourself back to yourself. It allows you to ‘talk to yourself’ as opposed to just thinking your thoughts.

You know the saying that this is a world of duality?

Ego makes possible the duality of self. Your ‘self’ is split into you, and your ego.

Does that mean it’s valuable to learn all you can about your ego?

Only if you value yourself. Only if you have some sort of reason to live. Only if you want to grow and improve yourself. Then it matters quite a bit.

If you’re depressed, or anxious, or have low self esteem, each of those experiences couldn’t happen without you telling yourself stories about how life is and how you are. Well, who do you think is telling yourself those stories?

Your ego is the closest to you. And it’s always whispering in your ear. If you can’t tell when it’s you or when it’s your ego talking – that’s not good.

I always cheer a little bit inside when someone buys my audio files on “Healing Your Ego” because I know they’re in for a real eye-popping experience, as they learn just how serious the situation is with their ego. Then they learn what to do about their ego, to make is strong and positive. So it can most effectively do its job.

You can’t become a wise person without working with your ego.

The relationship you have with your ego is the second most important one you have, after the relationship with yourself.

That’s because your ego will always be the ‘middle man’ between you and your soul, you and your higher self, you and your spirit, you and your Creator… in fact, it’s the middle man between you and everything else.

It’s in the middle between you and your co-workers.  Just like their ego is in the middle between them and you.  And as you understand how the ego works, it becomes easier to understand why other people act the way they do.

And Then Comes The Shadow…

While your ego provides an inner reflection of you, your shadow gives you an outer reflection of yourself. What I mean is that you will often see yourself in other people, compliments of your shadow.

Your shadow can reflect the parts of you which you refuse to be responsible for. The pity you don’t feel because it’s buried in judgments. The anger that’s too confronting to face. The hurt you shove down and deny. They can all show up in the people around you.

In fact, almost any person who ‘pushes your buttons’ most likely is reflecting some part of you that’s been buried in your shadow. Your shadow, unlike your ego, actually has your best interest at heart. It knows you need to deal with yourself, so it helps you out by giving you the opportunity to heal and change and grow.

One of the best ways to heal a relationship with another person involves healing it in your own shadow. I love going to my shadow because I never know what’s going to happen. But it’s always fascinating and helpful. Each time I travel to the domain of my shadow, it’s an adventure.

Find out how I do it here.

Besides your ego and your shadow, other parts of you may or may not be influencing your relationships with others. Your inner child and your inner adolescent come to mind. If you function as either one of these two parts of you, that will strongly color any relationship you have with any other person.

In fact, any time you are not functioning as the responsible adult, your relationships with others will suffer. Guaranteed. (Assuming you’ve reached the age of majority, of course. If you’re a teenage, then obviously you’re supposed to act like a teenager!)

So it all goes back to your relationship with yourself. The healthier that one is, the healthier the other ones will be as well.

But what about interpersonal relationships?

Now, since we’re not perfect and we’re all a work in progress, how do we deal with others in the best way possible? (And I’m going to talk about the people who push our buttons in some way, cause if we already get along with them, that’s a whole different ballgame – and a different post. )

About twenty years ago I discovered that if I went into meditation, and mentally asked another person to come to me, they usually would. And they would tell me exactly what they thought of me. Whereas, in the ‘real world’ they might not reveal their true feelings, in meditation they would.

As you might imagine, it was a mind-blowing experience. One of the many things I discovered is that I was a mirror to them, just as they were to me. Meaning, people were projecting their own biggest issues onto me, whether I had anything to do with those issues or not.

As an example, one woman who I thought was ‘the world’s biggest cheapskate’ actually thought I was a super-cheapskate. Well, anyone who really knew me realized I threw money around like a liquored-up sailor boy on shore leave…

Later on, another much more important discovery I made is that I could work out my differences and problems with people in my own private meditations. Twenty years ago, I could not have done this, because I had too many of my own issues to deal with. But the more I healed myself, the easier it became to heal relationship issues with other people while I was meditating all alone, by myself, in the privacy of my own bedroom.

Here’s what I do now:

If there’s something I have to work out with someone, I’ll first go into meditation. Then, once I’m grounded in an altered state, I’ll mentally ask them to come to me. Then, I’ll just look at them and try to sense them as vividly as possible. Then I may reach out to touch them or feel them in some way.

I’ll try to get a sense of their energy. And that’s what I work with. I just want to feel them. I try to take in their energy as much as possible. I bring it into my heart.

If I can feel it cleanly enough, that alone will usually heal any unresolved issues we have. It could take one meditation, or more likely several, maybe even a lot of different attempts.

Does that sound crazy? I’m just telling you what I experience. The key, obviously, is to be able to feel their energy cleanly. Meaning, to just feel, without telling yourself a story about what it all means.

I realize that can be quite a challenge, because if we didn’t get enmeshed in our own little story about this other person, we probably would have no problems with them in the first place.

What I’m asking you to do here, is to find the story you’re telling yourself about this other person. I would suggest writing it down, to really clarify it in your head. Maybe write a lot about it. Journalize it, and process it. Both.

Meaning, write it out carefully and deliberately – all the facts and details and ramifications. That’s the journal. Also, write out all your feelings about it. Write quickly, with gusto and abandon. Write and write and write. Free-association writing. That’s processing.

That’s where I would start. Then, maybe try to imagine them mentally, and feel their energy and perhaps talk to them in your own meditation. With an eye to “how can I heal myself here?” And “what contribution am I making to this relationship?”

You see? Very important to know what I bring to the table. What is my impact?

(And as for picking up the other person’s dominant thoughts about me… I never want to do that anymore.  Believe me, you’ll never be impressed by what someone else is thinking.  Trust me on that.)

And finally, what about the ‘real world’ interactions with them?

Since everyone is different, I respond differently to different people.  Some people can handle a lot more joking around than others.  My natural tendency is to defuse situations with humor, but sometimes it’s best to just be a hardass.  It depends on the person, and it depends on how I’m feeling at the time.  Due to the complexity of human relationship dynamics, I don’t have a one-size-fits-all response to people.  Except –

I always try to be real. True to myself.  Honor and respect myself.  Stand tall in my own shoes and in my own skin.  And let whatever happens, happen. And I always seek true dialogue.

Seek true dialogue. True dialogue could be defined as ‘open and authentic communication with the willingness to change’.

That means I’m NOT going to be close-minded even if the other person is.

Dialogue is vitally important in today’s world. Because when we don’t have dialogue, imagination collapses and all we can see is our own point of view. We become blinded. We become unable to imagine. We become polarized. Which is what we see in the world today.

There’s no better example than American politics. Our leaders no longer work together. Instead, extreme viewpoints prevail. Polarization.

Ironically, we’re all sinking on the same ship.

Your job is to help change this. How? By setting a good example. By being willing to engage in dialogue, even if the other person won’t. You can be the light of hope you were always meant to be.

It has to start somewhere. Someone has to take the high ground here. And since it probably won’t be that other person you have problems with, it’s going to have to be you.

Take the high ground. Which means  you’re working on yourself at the same time. This isn’t about stuffing down your anger and resentment! It’s about healing it ‘on your own time’ so you can be as clear as possible when you’re dealing with others. That’s how you truly become the winner at life.

Interpersonal relationship questions can be answered by you finding the high ground.

Years ago I was in a relationship with a woman who blamed me for anything that went wrong. And I took everything she said to heart. Meaning, I did indeed look for my own contribution to the problem, rather than blaming her. (Which is what I really wanted to do!)

And a funny thing happened. My own personal growth and change and healing skyrocketed. I made incredible strides inside myself and it helped me immensely in the long run. She helped change and shape my life by her pettiness.

Now, I’m living a wonderful life. And her? She’s broken in so many ways. In so much pain. Or so I’ve been told. I haven’t seen her in years. But you get my point.

I rolled up my sleeves and worked on myself rather than sink to her level.

And at a certain point, my resonance lifted me right out of that relationship.

That’s true magic. And looking back now, I see it answered most all of my interpersonal relationship questions, without even trying to.

What about you? Is there some high ground you can claim?

(Meaning, is there something about yourself you can work on?)


Andy Golay October 17, 2011 at 9:38 am

Hey Mark! Diggin’ the meditation, did some writing and then “called” a person to me, and experiened amazing streamers of light and feeling coming from their chest to mine, and other awesome phenomana… i now see so much petty, controlling, malicious behavior in myself, that i had attributed to that person (and, ironically, most other people in my life :)… it’s freeing to take that kind of responsibility. the higher ground i can claim is being my own best friend and being grounded in the moment… and enjoying it, one baby step at a time… well thanks for this transformation post.

Amy October 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Ditto Ditto Ditto 3x on everything you said here.

I have a co-worker (tenured faculty) — she is extremely territorial, sends out sharp vibes (spikes), and always has last say, even if she was right, she lays it on thick, especially in front of my students. Then performs dramatic sharp turn upon leaving the room, as if hoping to leave me stumped. (she doesn’t know that it makes her look bad because that is an overkill) Ugh…

Like in all new age meditations, I performed mental meditation and told her I am NOT a threat to her job or to her social “status”. After that, she soften up to me but still edgy. So, I read your note, I performed mental meditation again, the image showed her … “seeing her exiting the door, yet with one foot in”…

A former co-worker VideoPhoned me, …turns out my co-worker is planning on leaving her job (early retirement) with title of “Emeritus Professor” (75% retirement instead of full benefit) and… is going on a tour as a speaker (at least her goal plan).

That’s what I thought, her being seen with me was a threat to her social status and her goal was to become a full time public and private speaker at seminars, workshops, conventions, etc. And… the more I know about her, she does that to everyone else but our boss.

I, too, had introspection of myself… Well, your note is so easy to read and understand, I thank you for that!!


karen October 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Emotional Healing Wizard….you are a super cutie.

Teresa October 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Hi Mark…. Thanks for your thoughts…. gives me somethings to consider. I will have to think about the meditation. What I struggle with is trying to balance being the “bigger person” and finding the high road with being too passive and a door mat patsy. (Certain personalities know how to take advantage of those of us who try to be the bigger person)

Surely I am not the only person who has ever experienced trying to be the “bigger person” and find the higher ground only to realize that I could never be a big enough person or find a road high enough. I feel like some people and in some situations I keep getting pushed because they have no boundaries themselves. ( I was married to an alcoholic so unfortunately I know that sometimes other people just will not stop – they keep going as long as you let them)

I am not perfect and I know there are things I could do differently….. but I suppose that is one reason why some people leave their jobs….if they feel the struggle of staying is too much. Problem is that in this economy – I feel lucky to have been able to keep my job let alone find another one.

Too I think that since I don’t have trouble with people too often I don’t have much practice in how to deal with this type of thing. I have been working many many years and there have only been 2 people that I have caused me to pull my hair out (one now and one 8 years ago) Practice at anything else helps… so maybe interpersonal issues is something that practice helps with too

Thanks… I will have to investigate the meditation


Mark Ivar Myhre October 19, 2011 at 8:30 am

The problem with writing one short article on interpersonal relationship questions is that you just can’t cover all the possible scenarios. But one important issue involves being treated like a doormat. When you function as this type of person, you most certainly are not taking the high road. See, taking the ‘high road’ is not about letting the other person have his or her way. Not at all!

Taking the high road has little to do with the other person at all, and quite a bit about taking a stand inside yourself. See, you do yourself a huge disservice by letting someone else take advantage of you in any way. That’s obvious.

But you are also doing the other person a huge disservice. Basically, you are enabling their behavior. You are telling them (well, maybe showing them) that it’s okay to disrespect someone else. You are playing their unhealthy game.

Worse than that, even, is they are playing your game.

Let’s look at this a little closer. See, we assume that when someone is the bully, they are the one who’s setting the rules and getting others to play their game. And as long as we think that, we’re unlikely to change. Much better to tell yourself the truth.

I am the one who’s making the rules. I am the one who set up my game. The bully is just following along with the way I’ve set it up. I’m not being the bigger person by letting someone disrespect me. That’s not what it means to be the bigger person. Actually, I should probably have thought that out a little more carefully, because the very theory of being a ‘bigger person’ is kind of dumb. Because it keeps you playing the game, when what you really want to do is stop playing the game!

Now that I think about it, I can’t believe I even suggested the idea of being the bigger person. What was I thinking??? Dumb, dumb, dumb. Please forgive me, Teresa. And thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to even think about this a little bit more closely!

The concept behind ‘being the bigger person’ implies I am better than the other person, and that’s not what we want. Not really. What we want is dominion.

Anyway, I would suggest working with the other person in your own meditation, bringing them to you in your imagination, and feeling their energy. It really can work miracles. You can work out a lot of interpersonal relationship problems that way.

And of course, there’s the underlying pattern that also needs to be looked at. That’s going to be a much bigger challenge. Maybe that’s one of your main life lessons? To stop being the doormat, because it doesn’t serve any useful purpose. It hurts everyone to be the doormat, not just yourself.

And I realize what a challenge it is to change that. Because you have to ask yourself some tough questions, such as why have I chosen to be a doormat in the first place. So I can prove what a rotten childhood I had?

I personally spent decades proving that myself, and I can say from experience, I hurt myself so much by trying to prove to the world how bad my childhood was.

As if anybody even cared about my childhood…

Teresa October 24, 2011 at 10:59 am

My intent was never to point out an error in your thought; so don’t think that saying being the “bigger person” was a dumb comment. With many people and in most circumstances I believe taking the high road is probably the best choice. I believe that taking the high road should be our first choice in every instance because as we meet people we don’t know them and should not assume the experience will be a negative one. So I suppose my struggle is when I have given them 3, 4 or more opportunities and then it seems apparent where the situation is settling because its a repetitive thing.

I agree with all that you had in your reply. I do feel it goes back to childhood, but we can’t change that.

I truly believe that I will no longer be a “door mat”, but not sure that I address the issue in the best way when these situations arise. Do I address the situation or avoid it – am I civil in my approach or defensive? (I think I avoid and isolate myself so as to keep from getting in the bad situation again…. but I am not sure that is 100% true)

I have not been able to get a handle on the meditation….. I feel when I tried that I was just putting my own thoughts onto that person. Like I am writing this little story about them… which we are not supposed to do. I guess I don’t understand “feel their energy cleanly”. If I am talking to them in my meditation they reply and so I feel like is not accurate and those are my thoughts. Maybe I completely misunderstood.. any tips?


Mark Ivar Myhre October 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Hi Teresa,
yes, there is a very good chance that when you try to talk to someone in your own meditation, that you will just be talking to yourself, and not really talking to the other person.

What you might try is to just imagine them standing in front of you (or, across a table, whatever works) and just sit with them. Don’t try to verbally communicate. Just sit. Then, notice how you feel. How YOU feel. Spend some time with that. Then, you can start to focus on how they feel. Meaning, notice what their energy feels like.

But the best way is to take this in stages. One step at a time. First just sit with them. Then notice how you feel. Then notice what you feel from them.

Then, after you’ve practiced for a certain number of times, if you wish, you could work on actively talking to them. But if you do get to that point, you may wish to first just talk to them, telling them how you feel.

Only after I’d done many meditations of this type would I try to talk back and forth in meditation, simply because there is a great chance you will only be talking to yourself (or talking to your own ego, more likely.)

As for the little story, it’s not that we’re not supposed to do it, but rather that it’s important that we are aware of what we’re doing. Stories have a purpose. It’s good to recognize them. Then, you can move beyond them.

As for ‘feeling the energy cleanly’ that just means to feel without the story. But you can’t do that, unless you recognize that story in the first place.

As for do you ‘address or avoid’ – well, I always take situations on a case by case basis. And it could depend on how I’m feeling, how much time I have, how the other person is feeling, how many people are around, etc. Generally, I want to honor myself, first of all. That’s always number one. Then, I want to honor the other person. Sometimes, that is almost impossible to do! Sometimes, I believe I honor a person by letting them know how stupid, arrogant, and petty they are. Usually, I myself try to defuse the situation with humor. I also have a tendency to pierce through other people’s defenses. But that’s just my own style of dealing with others.

You, also, have your own style, and that is something you might wish to focus on. Look at your own strengths and weaknesses and take them into consideration as you encounter others.

Now, is there a ‘best way’ to deal with people? I don’t think so. It’s more a question of trying to be real with myself, which means to be honest with myself, and honor myself and respect myself. And discovering what that is, could be a major learning experience of your life. It could be a work in progress for the rest of your life. And that’s a good thing!

As for childhood, you may not be able to change the events that happened, but you can sure retrieve your power and energy and the pieces of your consciousness that have been lost in that past.

Which makes it much easier to function in the present.

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