Written by Telana Simpson

Are you very aware of others and how they feel or might be experiencing an event? Do you crave feedback and especially encouragement from your boss or loved one? Do you feel compelled to people please, often at your own expense? Then you might be running an “others” style of referencing.

If on the other hand you are a fairly independent person, who does a lot of autonomous thinking and prefers less supervision, you might be more self-orientated. You’ll notice that you find it easy to make decisions by yourself. And sometimes others will think that you are oblivious to the outside world as you tend to be ‘inside’ yourself quite often.

This describes the continuum of a frame of mind that explains where our focus of attention is predominantly: on self or others. It describes a way of thinking that will influence our emotional state that we find ourselves in often, especially in relation to other people (which is most of our time, isn’t it?).

This frame of reference is about our authority sort – that is, where do we go for a sense of authority in our lives? Do we look inside of ourselves and use our own perspective to evaluate events, and just have a sense of knowing what we need to do or what is right for us? Or do we go outside of ourselves, to other people or external information (like statistics or facts) to get a sense of right or wrong, or to make a decision?


Internal vs. External

Windmills of the mindInternally referenced, or self referenced, people are not selfish. They tend to frequently end up as entrepreneurs and leaders – even pioneers. They self-regulate and motivate themselves. They will gather information from others but always decide on their own.

Externally referenced, or other orientated, people focus primarily on others and excel in positions where they need to go externally to get the facts and figures. When this focus is in extreme mode, it leads to the person feeling like they need to please and placate others and they feel lost without guidance and feedback from others.

Know yourself

Getting to know yourself and where you are positioned in different contexts with this frame of mind, will help you to not only manage your own emotions when it comes to interactions with others, but also to manage your relationships.

If you tend to be self orientated, you might forget that others need some encouragement and input from you. Just because you don’t need the outside input, doesn’t mean that others around you also don’t.

Likewise, if you are more others orientated, it is important to remind yourself to put yourself first more to meet your needs, so that you can be in a stronger position to then help others. People pleasing to the detriment of yourself often leads to you being of no use to anyone, as you’ll find yourself burnt out and resentful from feeling used.

Also if you are a manager overseeing other people, and can identify where your colleagues sit on this continuum, you can then give more guidance to those who are externally orientated to motivate and get the most of out of them, and spend less time guiding the self orientated colleagues, who prefer less tight supervision.

Flexibility equals choice

The good news is that wherever you sit on this continuum of your frame of reference, you can develop flexibility with it. This will allow you to use the most useful way of referencing authority for a specific context. It just takes becoming aware of what your default position is, and where it works and doesn’t work in your life, and then practicing the other side to gain flexibility. And with flexibility comes more choice in how you can respond to the demands of the situations and relationships you find yourself in.

As we grow and develop more and more of an internal frame of referencing, we come to feel surer of our own values and thoughts, and more self reliant in making decisions and taking actions, and thus our self confidence grows. And if we don’t loose the ability to do other-referencing when needed, we will become even more mentally and emotionally healthy and balanced.

Here’s to you gaining flexibility and choice!

About the Author:

Telana is a dynamic, transformational Personal Coach and Blogger who specializes in communicating and relating.  She is fascinated by consciousness evolution and goes on adventures to push her boundaries and preconceptions.  She offers coaching and training programmes to help individuals develop their ability to express themselves and their potentials and is a host of an online TV show.