Helpful Others

The previous blog dealt with the role of other people in our life, and that they can help us to find our true identity and voice. How do they do it? And, how do I protect myself against the over-bearing/dominating individual who always wants to decide on your behalf?

The person I am talking about is one that can listen for hours if necessary. The feedback you receive is not emotional, but consequent and true. I have a few friends whose feedback I can trust. We see one another only two of three times a year, but I know I can trust their feedback. Their feedback is grounded in the things we talk about and share.

The helpful other person is one that can directly or indirectly open our eyes for new possibilities through his or her own life experiences, through the stories and through experiences we share. For this to happen it is important that I will allow them to be, and to spend time with them – or in other words be mindful when I am in their presence. It is the awareness not the number of minutes that determines their contribution. The helpful individual is also one that is interested in my stories and experiences and allow me to wrap off onto him or her.

To be truly aware and mindful requires that you are clear about your boundaries. Where will you allow the other person to enter? Boundaries define a safe space for you to be secure and creative. You can invite persons or events in, or exclude them. Within your boundaries, you are in control.


Something you can do this week is to identify three or four helpful individuals in your life and identify their feedback. Remember, their feedback is only their perspectives, it forms the background for your photo.

The value of our neighbours

What role do other persons play in our awareness of our self?

The popular attitude is that I shall not allow others to define me and that I need not explain my decisions to anyone. We often hear people saying: “Nobody will tell me what I may or may not do., or how I should do it.” It is true that others can imprison us through their expectations of us, and through manipulation and fear. We tend to defend and protect ourselves, to withdraw behind the expectations of society and family. Or, we react with anger and behaviour that we hope will destroy the threat and often only destroy relationships.

For me, photos provide a nice metaphor to understand the role of other persons in our lives. Most photos have a focus point – an object that is in sharp focus and thus defined as an object. That is me. But the object is always captured against a background (even sometimes merely white or black or out of focus) that foregrounds the object. It is in a relationship with others that we can find our voice, our true self, where we discover freedom.

Our neighbours, friends, family, colleagues can help us to discover our true self through their acts of love and kindness. Their words of wisdom and insight can open doors through which we can enter and begin to understand our behaviour. They can help us to see the flaws in the mental pictures we paint about ourself and others. In that way, they help us to become free from deception and fear.

During the following weeks, I will reflect more on his question.


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I will regularly post articles, commentary or refer to other relevant material. I will write about my experiences and learnings, about research and things people told me as I journey through life – looking back and forward and observe that which happens around me. I will write about coaching, relationships, conflict, a healthy lifestyle, faith and philosophy. Johan