By Terry Rich Hartley, Ph.D.
Like it or not, we are all gladiators. We go to sleep and wake up in a social arena from which there is no escape. Challenge upon challenge confronts us, walls restrain us, and a mob of spectators mocks, sneers, or cheers us. Each and every day brings new battles whether we want them or not and whether we're up to them or not. Life forces us to face one skirmish after another - no choice in the matter.
What we can choose, though, is which kind of gladiator to be, victor or victim.
Being a victim in this social arena translates into having bad relationships.
Most people are victims - victims of their own perceptions.
That's because people don't develop and listen to their own unique, authentic self. Rather they allow their mental spectators - those little tyrants rattling around in their heads - to tell them second by second how to fight their battles, what they can and cannot do. These tyrants applaud and they hiss, they encourage and they discourage.
These mental spectators are the memories of the judgments of real-life people. For example, it's the memory of your aunt saying, "I hope you marry someone rich, because you're not going far on brains." It's the echo of your father growling, "You've got a back problem - no spine."
And their influence over your relationships can't be overestimated.
Millions of people accept the judgments of their mental spectators as the truth and, therefore, the mediocre results that come from believing those judgments.
With so many people living this way, the question becomes, is this the way I have to live? Fortunately, the answer is not unless you want to.
Once you identify your mental spectators - and your interactions with them - you can move beyond victim and assume the role of victor.
What it takes are eight steps for getting command, eight steps you can apply to most any situation you want altered. You can positively influence your relationships, your employment options, any aspect of your life.
Let's look at the steps.
1. Define What Ails You.
Ask, what's my problem? Am I a jealous weasel, troubled that others have what I want? Am I ticked off most of the time? Am I sad and whiney? Anxiety ridden? Moody? All of the above? Without this step, you're doomed. It will take personal courage, but you won't get results without identifying what ails you.
2. Discover the Effects.
Ask, how are my problems affecting my life? Am I a lousy parent, a friendless dork, a backstabber, a slut, a drunk, a junkie? Am I none of the above, but someone who is less than I could be? This step requires absolute self-honesty, but the truth will help set you free.
3. Seek the Source.
Ask, from where are my problems coming? Who are my real and my mental spectators? What do my mental spectators look like, say, and do? Exactly who or what is keeping me from taking command of my life? This could be one of the most incredible experiences of your life. You will look into the abyss and see who is looking back.
4. Identify Your Role.
Ask, how am I contributing to my problems? What is my responsibility in all this? Did I decide to be a garbage disposal? Do I beat myself to death trying to please others? Do I expect things of myself that are unfair? Do I treat myself as a friend or an enemy? Do I allow my mental spectators to drive me to distraction, depression, anger, anxiety? Recognizing your role in your own problems is a positive - but scary - step toward knowing yourself and gaining personal command.
5. State Your Desires.
Ask, what do I specifically want to do about my problems? Do I want to be a doormat, a slut, a drunk, a friendless geek? Or do I want to rule my mental spectators? Do I want to stand up to a spectator, real or imagined, who puts me down? Do I want to take command of my education, my bank account, my relationships? Until you can actually list your desires in the order of their importance, you will be a victim. However, once you do this, you are on your way to being a victor.
6. Seek Options.
Ask, what are my options, and in what order should I place them? What is the first option I should concentrate on? The second one? The third? If you have a soul-sucking hangover most mornings, you might opt to give up your booze buddies for some real friends. Secondly, take the money you normally spend at bars and deposit it in a college fund for yourself or your kids. If, instead, you're a workaholic and you want to spend more time with your kids, then DO IT. Very few people on their deathbed have said, "If I could live life all over again, I'd spend more of it at work and less with people I love." Choices are involved here, but by weighing options and alternatives, and then making personal choices, you are taking command. Do this and you'll begin to gain real power.
7. Learn Winning Techniques.
Ask, how do I rule my real and my mental spectators? Must I collapse in a heap when they point thumbs down? How can I learn to take charge on every level and get a grip on my life? There is no "magic" involved, but you might feel as if there is. Unlike a vanquished gladiator falling at the whim of spectators, you decide your own course.
8. Master Your Relationships.
Ask, what more can I do to master my relationships by strengthening myself and my perceptions? How do I take command right now in developing my own identification and self-worth? Congratulations! You're working on the one person in the entire world you can work on - YOU! And any improvements in yourself can't help but enrich your relationships with other people and the world around you.
Although this is only a brief overview of each of the eight steps for jump-starting your relationships and taking control of your life, you'd be amazed at how significant the effects of a few minor adjustments in perception can be.
About The Author
Dr. Hartley is a social psychologist, a scientist, and the author of Tyrants of Self-Concept: Ruling the Rulers, a 122-page ebook that thoroughly describes the eight steps for improving your relationships, taking control of your life, and living the life you want to live. It includes easy-to-relate-to stories, examples, humor, and concrete, practical worksheets and exercises that get results fast. To learn more about how you can apply the steps, go to: www.rulingtherulers.com.