Life Treats You the Way You Treat You

By Jonathan R. Wachtel

Your relationship with everyone and everything around you is a reflection of your relationship with yourself.

Everything that you think and feel toward anyone else—whether you say it or act on it or not—is a reflection of what you already think and feel toward yourself. Every criticism and every praise that you direct outward is a reflection of what you are already directing inward. Whenever anyone or the circumstances of your life seem to be treating you terribly or well—all of this is a reflection of how you are already treating yourself.

Every aspect of your physical body, the circumstances of your life, and the nature of the dynamics of each and every one of your relationships with everyone and everything around you—from your parents, to your siblings, to your children, to your friends, to your community, to your significant other, to seemingly random people you encounter in your daily life, to your financial situation, to your health, and onward—all of it is a reflection of what is going on inside you. There is nothing external that you experience that did not begin inside you—in your own internal dynamics, your relationship with yourself, the way you treat yourself, the thought and emotional content and energy that you direct toward yourself, the things you say to yourself, the words and scenarios you rehearse in your mind (whether out of fear or joy, regret or love, frustration or peace), the way you make yourself feel, etc.

When you look in a mirror, if you don’t like what you see, it will not help anything to assert that the mirror should change.

If you don’t like what you see in the mirror and you want it to change, you must make changes in yourself. Thus it is with every aspect of your life. If you don’t like what you see and experience outside you—in your health, your finances, your living situation, your family, your society, your friendships, your relationship, etc.—and you want it to change, then you must change what is inside you that is being reflected in this undesired situation outside you.

On the other hand, if you like what you see outside you, then rather than let it go without your attention, encourage more of it with appreciation and gratitude, and keep doing what you’re doing that’s being reflected in this desired situation.

How to Change

So, let’s say your friend says something to you that really rubs you the wrong way. Rather than simply get upset at your friend and expect that this person should change the way he or she talks to you, notice yourself getting upset, acknowledge this feeling, and ask yourself, “What exactly did this person make me feel?” Perhaps the specific feeling is insecurity—that you can’t trust this person. Or perhaps the feeling is lack of worthiness—that your feelings aren’t being acknowledged. Or perhaps the feeling is incompetence—that you can’t take care of things yourself and are a burden on others. Or perhaps it is a combination of feelings.

Next, you can ask yourself “When have I felt this feeling before?” Identify the themes in your life—the circumstances, the people, etc.—that are connected by this feeling or by the thoughts that are leading to this feeling.

Then, ask yourself, “How might I be making myself feel this way?” Identify how you might be treating yourself in the same way as the other person treated you, or how you might even be saying exactly the same words to yourself that the other person said to you, or simply how you might be making yourself feel the way the other person made you feel.

After this, ask yourself:

“How would I like to make myself feel instead?”

Remember, you cannot get what you want by saying to yourself, “I will not think of a big pink elephant,” or by looking at the pole that you don’t want to crash into while riding a bicycle. You’ve got to focus on what you want, rather than on what you don’t want. This is because you will get whatever you focus your attention on, even if you are saying “no” to it.

Once you articulate in the positive how you would like to feel instead, so that you are looking in the direction you want to go rather than in the direction you don’t want to go, ask yourself, “How can I make myself feel that way?”

Remember, life treats you the way you treat you. So notice the external reflections of what is inside you, and recognize and use them as the gifts they are meant to be. You get to choose whatever you want to experience in this world. Everything is a reflection of the choices you make regarding what you pay attention to and how you treat yourself. Your past and present experiences can help you to recognize what thoughts and feelings and events you have been focusing on so that you can change this going forward. If you’re not getting what you want in life, ask yourself what you have been asking for with the focus of your attention, with what you have been looking at and rehearsing inside yourself, with how you have been treating yourself. Then, make changes where you deem appropriate, and keep refining this until you do get what you want in life.

Edited excerpt from The Relationship Key: Unlock Your Ideal Life Experience.

Jonathan R. Wachtel is an international inspirational life guide, speaker, author, and personality expert. Creator of the JRW Life Guidance System—an innovative, effective approach to helping people actualize their ideal lives—he offers relationship, career, and personal development guidance, and more. He guides people in achieving greater fulfillment through one-on-one life guidance sessions, group workshops and talks. He aims to inform, inspire, and guide with his written and spoken words. His works include The Relationship Key: Unlock Your Ideal Life Experience and Freedom: An Inspiring And Transformative Story Of Self-Discovery. To learn more, and to contact Jonathan, visit

This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at,, and all ebook formats.


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