One of my classmates at the Life Coach School starting talking about things as BLC (before life coaching). I love it because it’s so true; we see everything differently now. BLC, this headline would have infuriated me. So what? Seriously?
Losing a job
Special Needs Child
One of my biggest paradigm shifts ACL (after life coaching) was when it finally clicked that circumstances are neutral. I can already hear you arguing with me. My brain argued as well. How can any of those things be neutral? Here’s what I mean: they are neutral until we have a thought about them. It’s our thoughts that make them negative or positive.
Infidelity is neutral. One person might be completely devastated by the news that their spouse cheated on them. Another person, who is unhappy in their marriage but is afraid to leave it, may be elated because now they have a reason to leave and can feel justified. Another person may feel relieved because they’ve been cheating too and now they don’t have to feel guilty anymore. If the infidelity (the circumstance) caused the emotion, all of us would have the same emotion.
The difference in these people is their thoughts about the affair. When I say “so what?” I mean “what are you making it mean?” What are your thoughts that are causing you to feel the emotion you’re feeling?
Here’s another infidelity example: I have a client going through a divorce involving infidelity right now. She’s heartbroken. She told me “when it was good it was really good.” But the infidelity was happening long before she found out about it. She thought things were really good while he was doing the same things that she thinks are making her feel awful right now.
If it was the infidelity causing her negative emotion, she would’ve felt that negative emotion when the infidelity started. Since she didn’t know about it, she didn’t have a thought about it, and her marriage was “really good.” After she found out she had lots of thoughts. Her thoughts are causing her heartbreak, not the infidelity.
Why is this important? Because after she’s processed her grief and is ready to feel something different, she can. We can’t control other people. Oft times we can’t control our circumstances. But we can control our thoughts. Knowing that our thoughts create our emotions means we have the power to feel differently anytime we want to.
That doesn’t mean she should just hurry and change her thoughts so she can feel better. She may want to feel grief for a while. There is power in allowing your emotions. But knowing your feelings are created by your thoughts means you have the power to feel better whenever you want to. It also means you can write your past any way you want to.
What do you want to make it mean?
How do want to feel about it?
As I pull into my driveway I’m thinking about how awful my day has been. The commute home from work was a nightmare. My boss was on my case all day. He can’t give me 12 projects to do and then expect them all to be done in 15 minutes. A headache has been building for hours; I really hope it doesn’t turn into a migraine. I just want to lay on the couch and watch Netflix for a few hours while I decompress. I sure hope my wife has something already made for dinner; I’m so hungry.
I walk inside and the kids are immediately begging for attention. I talk to them the best I can while I try to find something to eat. She didn’t make dinner. Of course she didn’t, she never does. Isn’t that a wife’s job? She’s been home for hours and she’s just sitting there reading a book.
Ok, clearly that isn’t me speaking above, seeing as how I’m the wife in this scenario. And by the way, I totally made this up. I have no idea what my husband was thinking in the story I told you yesterday. But let’s just pretend this is exactly how it happened. When he came home and didn’t greet me, it had NOTHING to do with me. It was 100% about him and the day he was having. I’m the one who made it mean something. And notice his manual for me. I HATE cooking. I despise spending time in the kitchen.
How does it feel to be on the other side of the manual? It’s awful. It makes me feel like I’m less than simply because I’m not his picture of a perfect wife. But I’m not less than. I just don’t like cooking. (For the record, my husband has never even hinted that this cooking thing is in his manual for me. He likes to cook and I’m eternally grateful).
If you want an amazing relationship, throw away your manuals and start loving people for exactly who they are. This is a complete game changer.
Ok, but how do I have the kind of relationship I want if I don’t my expect them to do anything differently?
Simple: you take care of your own needs. If I want to have an affectionate greeting when my husband gets home I am more than capable of instigating that myself. I don’t need him to do anything differently at all. All he has to do is walk in the door and I’m there to greet him with a big kiss. And if he doesn’t react the way I want him to, I don’t make it mean anything about me. That’s about him, it has nothing to do with me, and I go on being the kind of wife I want to be.
If I want to hold hands when we’re walking around, I take his hand. I don’t need him to do it. And I certainly don’t need to resent him for not doing it. If I want to go out on a date, I can plan a date. If I want to have a romantic anniversary, I can make it romantic. These are all things that I want. And I’m capable of taking care of these myself.
When we expect others to take care of our needs we will almost always be disappointed. We cause ourselves pain and often hurt the relationship. It just isn’t necessary.
I love my husband, unconditionally. The only thing I expect of him now is to be there so I can love him. Exactly as he is. Doesn’t that sound amazing? To have someone love you exactly as you are, not wanting or needing you to be anything different than you are? That’s pretty much the only thing I’ve wanted my entire life. So now I’m learning to give that to everyone else in my life.
Try it. You’ll be amazed.