The Platinum Rule Can Help Create the Relationships We Want
This month, on my blog at omhealingandwellness.com I wrote about my experience in assisting with a week-long yoga teacher training that was led by Tari Prinster, the founder of Yoga 4 Cancer (Y4C). One of the concepts from the training really resonated with me and I think that practicing it can have far-reaching benefits, not just in yoga, but in life. I don’t usually overlap topics between the two columns but I feel strongly about this idea and what it can do for us when we are working to create the relationships and lives we want, so I wanted to share it with you as well. It’s called the Platinum Rule or The Other, and can help create the relationships we want.
As you can imagine, a big part of the Y4C training is learning about what makes teaching a yoga class for cancer survivors different than teaching a general class. And there are many answers to that question. For example, determining modifications so that everyone can safely practice given what they might be feeling as a result of their illness or treatment and knowing which poses might aid in their recovery. Of all of the topics there was one that I thought was particularly powerful, that works to heighten awareness, and can help us to communicate and interact with one another in a more authentic way. It is a concept that Tari refers to as The Other.
The Other is similar to what I’ve also heard referred to as the Platinum Rule. We all remember the Golden Rule, which asks us to treat others as we want to be treated, but the Platinum Rule asks us to treat others as they want to be treated. The Golden Rule is easy, but the Platinum Rule demands something different of us, something more difficult. While both come from a place of good intention, the Platinum Rule requires us to put aside our own egos and views in order to understand what someone else needs or wants. The focus of the relationship then shifts from, “this is what I want and need,” or “this is what I would want to hear or have done if I were in this situation,” to “what does this person need right now.”
The idea of The Other calls for some self-examination. It entails asking ourselves if what we are about to do or say is about us and our needs or about the other person and their needs. It encourages us to question the value of what we are about to share – is it valuable, why is it valuable, and to whom. On or off our yoga mats, this is something that I think can bring tremendous perspective to our interactions and takes a great deal of practice.
B. K. S. Iyengar once said, “Do not imagine that you already understand, and impose your imperfect understanding on those who come to you for help.” Broken down, this means we shouldn’t act on the assumption that we have the perfect, or the only understanding of any given circumstance. We’ve all been there right? We feel like we have a complete understanding of a situation and that we are giving our friends/partners/colleagues exactly what they need, and then at some point, we are shocked to learn that we are way off the mark.
So how do we practice the concept of The Other? We start by acknowledging to ourselves that our way is not the only way. For example, if you’re teaching a yoga class and you are about to assist someone, think about why. If the answer is that they are going to hurt themselves then by all means assist them. But if the answer is because you need things to look a certain way, maybe you acknowledge that the way you think things should be isn’t the only way they can be.
Instead of jumping in, sit with it, and see how that feels. If you are having a difficult conversation with someone in your life, the same applies. Start by exploring the idea that maybe the way you think things are or should be, isn’t the only way they can be. And then go one step further. Perhaps you aren’t communicating with someone in a way they are able to best understand or maybe while you are giving a great deal, it isn’t necessarily what they need.
Striving to understand where someone else is coming from, how they wish to be communicated with, or what makes them comfortable in their interpersonal interactions without judging or assuming that what we need or want is the same as what they may need or want, helps us to effectively communicate in a way in which others can hear us. It also breeds compassion, community, and understanding.
Talking about these ideas with our group was further inspiration for me to strive to always be conscious of how we are communicating with one another and the importance of exploring our own motivations, putting aside our biases to see the perspective of others, and bringing compassion and curiosity into all of our relationships and interactions. This isn’t always easy and I would venture to say will be a lifelong practice for me. These are my interpretations of how we can apply this concept in yoga and in life. What are yours? Give some thought to where in your life you might be able to use one or both of these practices and please feel free to let me know how it’s going.
As always, thank you for reading, take care of you, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any comments or questions on this or any other wellness-related topic.
The creator of the Platinum Rule was Tony Alessandra, Ph.D. Although he’s probably very humble about bringing this wisdom to the American public (and world), I like to see that he gets some credit for it. Great blog; I am very happy to see someone promoting this wisdom!