“If you’re not with me, you’re against me.” AND SIMILAR BELIEFS THAT RUIN RELATIONSHIPS

“If you’re not with me, you’re against me.” And similar beliefs that ruin relationships by Madi Mihalcea

People say “If you are not with me, you’re against me” in other forms, not so straightforward. It may be because they don’t want to admit it, or because they are not aware of their demand (see below). So they use similar forms of it:

“You don’t respect me (if you don’t agree with me).”
“You’re such a _____ person (if you do/say something I don’t agree with).”
“You don’t love me (if you don’t do as I please).”
“Something is wrong with you (if you’re different from me).”

Do these phrases sound familiar? I bet they do.

How do they ruin the relationship?

With this approach, one demands the other to submit. The second option for the receiver is to rebel. So there’s no middle ground. The base of the relationship is on fear, shame, and guilt instead of connection, mutual respect, and trust.

You want change. What can you do?

Whether you are the sender or the receiver of such messages, start with the premise that “We are all human beings and one of our fundamental needs is to be seen and heard.”

Beyond race, gender, religion, political views, and so forth, we are all human beings, with the same needs. When we use different strategies to meet our needs, conflict starts.

Let’s say you meet your need for respect only when others agree with anything you say or do, no questions asked. The other meets their need for respect when their ideas or beliefs are met with a little curiosity, and a bunch of facts told with thoughtful words. The conflict is not from the need; it’s from the different strategy to meet that need.

From a neurological point of view, here’s what happens

Emotions are one of the main things that derail communication. Once people get upset at one another, rational thinking goes out of the window.

— Christopher Voss

When your words and actions challenge the belief system of the other, or they trigger, in any way, anger, guilt, shame or fear, their BRAIN will register that as a threat to their lives. So a bunch of neural chemicals is liberated, and the primitive part of their brain gets activated and interferes with rational thinking.

Basically, you lost them! You can say anything from that point, and nothing will register.

On the other hand, if you let them express themselves and show them genuine intention to understand their point of view, how they feel, and what they need — genuinely empathizing with them — their brain releases dopamine, which activates the reward neurons. They will feel empowered, their self-esteem increases because you see them as a human being, not like something below you. Once they feel heard, you have better chances to be heard in return.

Just to be clear…

Empathizing doesn’t mean agreeing! You show them you are willing to understand their point of view first and THEN coming with objections (with words that serve connection).

Your turn!

I believe no learning is useful without practice. So I challenge you, for at least 24 hours, identify this limiting belief — “If you’re not with me, you’re against me.” and it’s equivalent forms — in your speech or others’, and set your intention to see and hear them. Come back and share your experience in an email, I would love to read about it!

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did, stay close.

Until next time, I wish you ease and joy in everything you do!

Take care,
Madi