I’ve recently been working with a common theme that exists in a lot of our relational structures as human beings. Now I know what you want to say, “I don’t objectify people.” You would be correct to an extent to think so, but try seeing even the most subtle version of objectification or manipulation. This subtly could be harming you and your interactions with others.
We are not here to turn other people into our ideas about them, but rather to enjoy each other for who each individual is on their own. The less we impose, the more love that flows.
As one of my good friend Brandi says,
…being aware of expectations, perceptions, and assumptions we put on each other and ourselves that go beyond or beneath what is human and rejecting those things to learn and accept what is true; including the limitations, abilities, complexity, individuality, and mystery. It includes not downplaying this humble identity among the living things in the universe. God, after all, called humanity “very good.”
I thought that was very well put and that leads us into the first thing I would like to talk about.
Looking at what affects us and other in relationship
When we make subtle agreements with ourselves that one is our property
We begin to expect them to be our idea of them. How we think they should be is not how they actually are and when this loop plays in your heart it causes such emotional rifts as anger, irritation, and helplessness. We may even throw a tantrum at the fact that the other person is making decisions outside of what we feel is right and wrong for them. It is not our responsibility to hold their hand or be their savior. We can be supportive and show by our actions how we live, and if this allows for them to change in a beneficial way, then great! But control isn’t the answer. Controlling leads to suffering as it not only pushes the other away but causes emotional contraction within yourself.
You don’t get to keep them
As in there will be a point in your life when you must let them go. You will not have them forever (even in marriage). So making the assumption that your bond is eternal can be very toxic. Instead know that you are sharing a time with them but know that they will move on at some point, in some way, shape, or form. It will allow you to cherish the relationship more for what it is now, and hopefully it prepares you to let go more easily when you two part ways.
“What can they do for me” mentality
Going into a relationship with this thought can be very toxic for the heart. You can and will easily sabotage anything good you have going with another. Sure this is fine for business relationships if you have something mutual to give at the time and that is the agreement you have made with each other. However when you take this into a relationship, you are only giving love for what they do for you, not for who they are.
It does not work in a healthy mutually loving relationship and causes one or more things to occur.
- You suck the life from the other emotionally like a vampire.
- Cold and calculated, if someone isn’t giving you what you want, you throw them aside and find someone who will. (This is manipulation and objectification at its best. And starts a vicious cycle of this habit)
- You will always hold other at arms length because you won’t know how to connect deeply with the other person.
Loving someone for who they are has little to do with what they can do for you. I feel it has more to do with sharing how you feel about yourself (hopefully self content compassion) with that other person. And hopefully the feeling will be mutually on the other side.
There is nothing saying that your agreement with that other person will be permanent and upheld. If this were true, the US’s divorce rate would not be over 50%. Being married does not save you from this nor being in a relationship saves you from this fact. This also proves that the other is not your property!
Which is why we hold our relationships with great compassion but also light heartedness. If I or other grow apart, we may thank the other for being a wonderful part of your life and then let them move on if that is what they want.
And then of course you have the opportunity of learning to strengthen your bond of being able to let go without victimizing yourself.
Cling causes manipulation
When we cling to our ideas of someone it may cause us to either consciously or sub-consciously manipulate the other. Using ourselves as a hostage to make the other be our ideals. Try and be mindful about this within yourself so that you can avoid doing this. When we are mindful of the potential of this happening or know this is one of our major shortcomings. We are able to better both; take note it is happening, and of course to respond to a situation differently rather than react in our old habitual patterns.
Manipulation is painful for both parties. Injecting that kind of toxin can start a vicious cycle which I will talk more about further down this article…
What this does
Like I said a vicious cycle ensues:
- You objectify partner
- Partner eventually will feel used, manipulated, or backstabbed.
- There is now a high chance of the other will learn this behavior and consider it to be a viable option toward others.
- May begin to do it to others, further infecting our fellow humans causing the process to start over.
It’s important in my opinion to catch this kind of habit or addiction to trying to get people to act as we want. To see it has to do with us and our own filter of reality rather than their perspective of reality. When we stop the momentum within ourselves, the problem begins to dissolve on its own.
As Ghandi said,
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
What can increase objectification of our beloved?
I think that one of the biggest skills that leads to more objectification is or feeling of having to manipulate others in some way to meet our criteria. Also being manipulated by those that you are real close to and love can cause the momentum to become greater within.
Another thing that I’ve seen can create more momentum is friends delusional advice about sense of entitlement toward the other. Again we do not own our loved ones and they do not own us. They don’t owe us anything and we are responsible of loving ourselves. So when we aren’t coming from a place of self-love, it is hard for us to be mindful of feeling even a subtle sense of entitlement.
Are you getting the picture that this is more about you then it is about them yet?
Pornography is another big one I wanted to touch on. The whole act of watching this kind of stuff teaches the body and mind to treat other human beings like objects. The body doesn’t know the difference between the physical act and the virtual. The more it is watched the more the neurons fire off in your brain to act in that way when presented the opportunity.
If you want to watch it, that is your call, just know what agreements you are making with yourself and what kind of sufferings you are setting yourself up for.
Not being mindful of your actions is the last of the list that I came up with. Not being mindful of how your actions affect other people leads to both parties to suffer. You end up hurting yourself and the other in the process of doing something you don’t even realize may be wrong or mistaken on your part. So be watchful for the, “he should be this way” kind of inner dialogue.
How to stop this cycle in yourself
This process is never an easy process. Being mindful and understanding yourself is the first major step to lessen your objectification foot-print. Really look down inside and see in which areas you would consider to be your shortcoming in the areas i’ve talked about above and then be mindful of them for when the occasion arises in everyday life.
See people as truly human counterparts, not objects of desire in which you can step over to get what you want. We are after all, in this together. Both sexes are human beings so I tend to be optimistic and prefer to try my best to treat all people as equally as I can with my limiting filter that is me.
Always keep in mind of, “How does this affect so-and-so, and will it cause them suffering?”
If the answer is yes, try and figure out a solution that will not cause them suffering or very little. I understand that there are circumstances where we have to step away from a relationship because we are in suffering ourselves. And like a doctor would cut into his patient if he knew it would bring them back to health or life. It may be painful in the short run, but in the long run may be very beneficial to the other party.
Which is why I also believe in working on your discernment. Having clear discernment for yourself will allow you to light the way for yourself. You don’t have to control the other to respect yourself. But you may have to step out of their life on that particular decision that they have made. Nothing against them, but again, be compassionate as you can in your current life state.
Always remember to let go of your pre-conceived ideas about someone. They are always in a constant state of changing.
And when the time comes when two part ways, my friend Stephanie put it best,
when relationships do move on because of life business, death, estrangement, etc, that we should recognize that it is ok to mourn those losses. To get stuck in loss is not good, but it’s good to recognize that there is a loss and work through that and not just ignore it. I have ignored losses before, and didn’t allow myself to feel the pain of it and work through it. I relalized later that I was putting up walls with people because I had a fear that came in. Then I had four times the stuff to work through!
We are always going to be a work in progress, accepting that is keystone to becoming a better person. We mess up and acknowledging that and working on making things right is healthy. And never give up hope on anyone, even if you can’t help them in your present moment. Never close your heart off.
Top Image Credit: Jesslee Cuizon
Middle Image Credit: Kevin Utting
Bottom Image Credit: Relaxing Music