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Part 8: My Relationship with Others

What kind of person do I want to be?
What does it mean, for me, to be a good person?
And what, for me, is right and wrong?

This is all about what you believe is important in how you behave in your everyday life and what your personal philosophy tells you is right and wrong. The idea is for you to identify those principles and guidelines that you value most and wish to live by. Of course, there are many such lists available that have been written down and which people are encouraged to follow. The most well-known of these are in religious and philosophical books and some have been in existence for hundreds or even thousands of years. There are also many other non-religious books whose authors provide readers with advice on how to lead a good life. You yourself may have been influenced by these religious and non-religious teachings.


People often say that we all need 'a moral compass' to guide us through our daily lives and, amongst other things, help us avoid making mistakes to the detriment of ourselves and others, deal with situations where we are uncertain about what is the right thing to do, and maintain our self-confidence, self-trust, and self-regard. Religions and non-religious philosophies aim to provide us with this 'moral compass' but, whatever the case, we all have our own moral and ethical rules of which we may be clearly aware or which may be implicit and 'at the back of our minds'. Making these explicit in My Personal Philosophy provides you with a clear reminder of your moral compass; you own it and you are responsible for it, and you may refer to it anytime for the above purposes or whenever you feel the need to reinforce your commitment to your personal beliefs and values.

My priorities

There are so many principles and guidelines that you could include and it is not suggested that you put down as many of these as you can think of. We all differ in the priorities we give to how we should behave, so you will need to decide what especially should be on your list - what matters most to you. Do not worry about leaving things out; this doesn't mean that you don't believe in them. It's not meant to be a comprehensive list.

One reason why you will have different priorities to other people is that, as with everyone else, what is significant for you personally will be influenced by what is happening in your life - say, how old you are; whether you are working, studying, unemployed or retired; what kind of work and other activities you're engaged in; your marital and family circumstances; your neighbourhood and community; your health; your economic status; stresses you may be under; and so on. Hence you will be influenced by what matters to you at this point in your life. So, it's more a process of discovery, finding out what's most important for you based on your own personal experiences as well as learning from others.

For example, you will, I am sure, believe that you must never take someone's life, cause someone unnecessary pain or distress, or steal. Important as these principles are, you may feel it's OK to leave them unsaid, since the need to remind yourself of them never arises in your daily life - they are taken for granted. Also, they may be covered by more general beliefs, such as 'always be considerate of other people's welfare'. On the other hand, you may be one of those people whose kind of lifestyle confronts them with moral dilemmas that require you to hold fast to beliefs of this nature, and so they will be especially significant for you.

As a starter, maybe you could spend some time letting your thoughts wander around this topic. When you are ready, list maybe around six beliefs or ideals that really matter to you about how you feel you should behave towards other people and, indeed, the rest of the world, including other creatures and your environment. You can then return to these after further contemplation, add some more, change them around, and so on. Over time, as changes happen in your life, you may want to continue adding to your list, removing items that are not as pressing as they were before, rephrase others, and so on. And you may find the 'Reflections' section useful for logging any other thoughts, details of events of significance, wise sayings that you have heard or read, and anything else you want to keep a record of.

How to express your beliefs and principles


Below are different themes associated with moral and ethical principles and beliefs about what's right and wrong. They are intended to help you develop your own ideas about what you want to be part of your personal philosophy. Again, it's not a comprehensive list.


Some moral philosophies can be summed up in one statement that covers lots of things, for example, the Golden Rule of which there are variants, e.g. -

  1. Treat others as you would like others to treat you.
  2. Do not treat others in ways that you yourself would not like to be treated.
  3. Treat others as they would like to be treated.

Another general guideline is to follow biblical instructions and the teachings of prophets, gurus, and great men and women who have laid down commandments and guidelines for leading a moral and ethical life. If this is the case with you, then you may want to start out with a general statement that you will follow the teachings or example of such a person. You may then feel that this is all you need say! However, as was stated above, we all have different ways of understanding and interpreting these matters and different priorities in our own lives. So in addition to this, you may find it very useful to put down what aspects of these teachings are particularly important and valuable to you in your own life.

If you think it will help, have a read through the themes below. It's quite a long list so don't think you have to address everything. And remember, it's only about what is particularly important for you personally.

My conduct

How I believe I should behave regarding:

  1. Honesty / dishonesty, including cheating
  2. Being truthful / untruthful
  3. Stealing
  4. Sticking to or breaking rules
  5. Obeying or breaking the law
  6. Hurting and harming other people (physically, verbally, emotionally, materially, etc.)
  7. Remorse and acceptance of blame; penance, atonement, etc.

My interaction with others

How I believe I should behave regarding:

  1. Politeness
  2. Consideration for others
  3. Respect for others
  4. When others are vulnerable, suffering, in trouble
  5. Keeping promises

Conflicts with others

How I believe I should behave regarding:

  1. When I disagree with others' opinions or beliefs and vice versa
  2. When others hurt or harm me deliberately
  3. When others are angry or aggressive with me
  4. When others make mistakes, are incompetent, or inconvenience or harm me by accident
  5. When others are unreasonable, let me down, break their promise
  6. Being angry with others
  7. Being fair
  8. Patience
  9. Tolerance
  10. Forgiveness
  11. What I do when I have caused people harm, inconvenience or distress

The environment and other living things

How I believe I should behave regarding:

  1. The environment (natural, including animals, and man-made)

Take your time

Allow yourself plenty of time to let ideas 'bubble up' and 'float around your mind'. Maybe you will find that, as you go about your daily life, thoughts come to you that are particularly relevant to this exercise. Or perhaps you find yourself reminiscing about events in your life and realise what was important for you in how you responded or could have responded. And maybe things happen in your life at present that trigger thoughts about right and wrong ways for you to react. If it helps, jot down some notes. Only make a start on your list or statement when you feel you are ready to do so.

Don't be hard on yourself!

Remember the advice given in Part 1: It is very important to use My Personal Philosophy in a way that is rewarding for you and brings you greater fulfilment and self-worth. This is unlikely to be achieved if you are critical of yourself whenever you fall short of your beliefs (which, like everyone else, you are sure to do often enough). You may prefer to think of these incidents as opportunities for self-reflection when you gain a little more understanding of yourself.


When you are ready, go to your 'My Personal Philosophy' record and begin writing up your beliefs under the heading 'What I believe about my relationship with others'. You don't have to write very much about this now unless you want to expand on your beliefs - you can do this later.

When you have written as much as you wish, and when you are ready to resume, return to 'Part 3: Setting Off' and choose your next part.

Return to Part 1: What it's all about