BASICS OF ONESELF/OTHERS INTEGRITY
The enmity and distrust between Oneself and my-you runs deep. Oneself believes that to get what he or she wants, they have to ignore or step over much or all of what Others wants. Others believes that Oneself should put others first so that we can think we’re a good guy and that others will also think well of us. Others is quick to blame Oneself if my-me acts selfishly against the ideal of doing things for others. It will require time, courage, and creativity to create new attitudes, new methods, and new habits that support integrity, peace, mutual trust, and cooperation between Oneself and Others. They both need to learn that both will be much better off (especially in the long run, which my-next is very interested in) if they are to create win-wins on their journey together.
Both have the same intention
The first thing for both of them to get clear about (and stay clear about) is that they have the same intention: happiness (and avoiding unhappiness), as it relates to their relationships with others. If there were no relationships with others involved (imagine being by yourself forever on a island), then there would never be a conflict between Oneself and Others, because nobody else is around to have a relationship with (except the fauna and the flora). It’s just that Oneself and Others have different domains of responsibility in their relationships with others. Oneself’s responsibility is to make sure that he or she is taken care of in relationships. Others’s responsibility, in contrast, is to consider how others can be taken care of, because much happiness and benefit can occur, both short-term and long-term, when the benefits of others dovetail with one’s own personal benefits.
Obviously, the best relationships are the ones in which both sides are taken care of, so that the concerns of both Oneself and Others are addressed and they work together in supporting each other, each benefiting from the coordination and partnership.
The quintessential model for Oneself/Others integrity (OOI)
One of the easiest ways to see this win-win partnership is in the domain of trading with others. Our Oneself only agrees to a trade (“I’ll give you this much money for that apple”) if the value of the apple to us is more than the value of the money. And our Others is happy also, because he or she recognizes that the person who is getting the money from us is benefiting because they want the money more than they want the apple. With trading, it’s easy to see that it’s a win-win for my Oneself and Others (integrity between them or an OOI). It’s also an OOI for the person I am trading with. Open and honest trading is the quintessential example of how to create peace and partnership between Oneself and Others...for everyone.
Non-transactional interactions seem more problematic
Let’s look at some more challenging circumstances. What if, in talking with your friend, you’re waiting for them to finish up with their monologue? What if a friend or stranger appeals to you to give a donation to a good cause? What if you’ve been unhappy for a while in your marriage with two kids? What if you feel burdened with taking care of your aging, cantankerous mother? What if your parents insist on you doing your boring homework? What if your other family members will be angry and upset with you if you quit your stable, well-paying job? Suffice it to acknowledge that non-transactional circumstances can seem much more problematic in being able to create an OOI with Oneself and Others. All these issues will be addressed fully in other parts of “Ask Life How,” but we need to take it step-by-step.
No more blame and guilting
The beginning of the peace (and cooperation) process begins with Others. His or her habit, a knee-jerk reaction, towards many of Oneself’s indulgences (as seen from Others’s perspective) has been to criticize and blame Oneself for Oneself’s behavior (“Stop being so selfish!”). This does not help. It just makes us (Oneself) feel guilty and often he or she gets more adamant, continuing in the indulgent behavior. Moreover, even when it does seem to work (that is, Others gets their way), it works only with the costs of feeling resentment and toleration, as well as perpetuating the conflicts between Oneself and Others. One red-flag to watch out for is when you’re thinking or saying that you “should” do something. Almost always “shoulding” is a form of blaming and guilting.
Showing respect to Oneself
The new attitude that my-you needs to adopt is to show respect to Oneself and to get curious and interested in what Oneself wants.
More specifically, whenever a conflict or potential conflict arises between Oneself and Others, then Others (and Oneself) need to ask themselves, “How could we both win, how could both of us be happy regarding this issue?” If instead, Others falls into the old habit of criticism, then ask Others to stop and apologize to Oneself, saying something like, “Tracy-Oneself, please forgive me for blaming you. I got scared that I wouldn’t be able to take care of others and that we would be blamed. Tell me more about what you’re trying to do for us. Let’s find a way, in this circumstance, for both of us to be happy.”
Creating conditions for cooperation
Another important factor for creating peace and cooperation between Oneself and Others is creating more supportive conditions that will foster cooperation between them. Such conditions include:
1. Creating integrity (NNI) between Now and Next; if these are on the same page, it’s much easier to find ways for Oneself and my-you to be on the same page. Most of our own Oneself/Others conflicts occur because of a seeming incompatibility of what my Now wants and what someone else’s Now wants. This incompatibility occurs because neither of the two are considering the longer-term picture of what our Nexts want (which is usually to create and maintain and good, long-term relationship). For example, if a husband asks his wife to get him some coffee while he’s watching the Superbowl and she doesn’t feel like being interrupted in what she’s doing it, it can easily end up with a bit of hostility or resentment, because both of them are indulging their Nows. However, if one or both of them can maintain integrity between their Now and Next, it’s much easier to create a happy resolution to this budding conflict.
2. Creating understandings and maintaining boundaries with others that foster an easy NNI. For example, imagine a couple who have a clear understanding of what is “common money” and what is “separate money.” This couple will likely find it easier to maintain a happy understanding of how money is spent than with a couple who hasn’t created this boundary.
3. Maintaining clarity about what is “my business, your business, and God’s business.” Much mischief is created when we don’t pay attention to our own business, but instead meddle in others’ business or in God’s business (or allow others to meddle in our business). I find that most people can answer clearly when asked, “Whose business is that?” Examples are:
a) Eating for your health (that’s your business)
b) Your wife eating for her health (that’s her business unless she gives you permission to support her in eating for her health)
c) Asking your spouse for help with lowering your household expenses (that’s your business)
d) Your spouse getting angry at you for asking for help (that’s your spouse’s business)
e) What the president of your country does or doesn’t do (that’s the president’s business)
f) Whether the airplane crashes that you’re flying on (that’s the pilot’s business and God’s business)
Enjoying the process
and putting lifestyle first
Although this is an important factor in creating NNI, it’s also a major contributor to OOI. For example, one reason that I am able to create and maintain outstanding relationships with others is that I have made sure that I am enjoying the processes involved with whatever I choose to do with others (in other words, I am taking care of myself in the process itself, not just in the results). Specifically, most people consider me to be a good listener. Because I focus on enjoying the dance of conversation, almost independent of any result that may come out of the conversation, it’s easy for me to listen with curiosity and understanding.
The biggest choice of courage
Often an important opportunity for choosing courage and creativity is to find ways, in a particular circumstance, so that our Oneself and our Others can mutually enhance each of their interests. But there will always be some occasions where a way cannot be found where we can take care of Oneself’s concerns and, at the same time, take care of what Others wants.
For example, consider the situation where, after due consideration, you know that you need to have a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday by yourself. And, even given your best efforts, you don’t know how to express this to your mother and father without them feeling unloved and upset. Your best opportunity here may be to choose courage to just listen to your parents and hear their expressions of upset. In general, it will be better to not try to justify your decision. That will likely stimulate pushback. As a maximum, as a “justification,” you might say, “I haven’t found a way to join you for the holidays and at the same time take care of myself. I hope you can understand this and I understand if you don’t understand. I love you.”
Your #1 job in life (first priority) is to take care of yourself.
That’s why God/nature put you in your body, mind, and spirit...not in someone else's. Yes, others care for you. And you care for others. Ultimately, however, only you are in a position to know and act on what is necessary to best take care of yourself, even if you defer to someone else’s assessment (like a doctor or lawyer) in a particular situation. To take 100% responsibility for your own life can sometimes require an extraordinary choice of courage to make requests, to say “no,” setting and maintaining good boundaries with others.
Integrity (both NNI and OOI)
Most fundamentally, integrity is creating and maintaining the ongoing alignment and symbiosis of Oneself and Others. This constitutes at least 80% of integrity. Then, when you include the ongoing alignment of Oneself and Others, we have 100% integrity, resulting in a life of meaning, self-expression, self-inspiration, self-fulfillment, great relationships, and accomplishment.