Take Back Your Power in Challenging Relationships
Are you in a challenging relationship? What makes a relationship challenging? A difficult or challenging person? Nope.
What if I told you that what makes a relationship challenging is what we are thinking about it? If you think that’s just BS, here me out.
You can have two of the exact same relationships with the exact same dynamics and one person can think it is a problem and really challenging while someone else thinks it’s fantastic. The only difference is how we decide to think about it.
Ask yourself, why you’re choosing to think this way about this relationship? Remember, we get to choose what we think about anything. And what we decide to think determines how we feel. What most of us humans do is we have a thought about the relationship and then we blame the other person for how we feel. We think the reason we are stressed, angry, or hurt is because of the other person. But, in order to feel an emotion (hurt, angry, stressed, irritated), you have to have a thought about something they have said or done. Our feelings come from our thoughts…what we’re making their words or actions mean about us.
Other people cannot control your feelings.
Also, we can’t control what the other person is doing or thinking. We can’t change them…ever. The only thing we can control is ourselves and how we show up in the relationship.
Whether it’s your relationship with your boss, your teen, your spouse, or a friend, we can all have better relationships without changing the other person.
This is the best news ever! But how?
Do Your Own Work
The hardest, but most important step is to do your own work first! Notice how much you want to change them and blame them. But how powerless does that make you feel? It’s important to take responsibility (ability to respond however you want) for how you think and feel in the relationship. This is a game-changer!
What are you thinking that is causing you to feel challenged in the relationship? When you think your teenager is difficult, how do you feel? When you think your boss is a jerk, how do you feel? When you think you’re spouse doesn’t care enough about you, how do you feel? If you feel frustrated, own that you are choosing frustration. I know you can probably throw out tons of evidence to try to prove your thoughts, but none of that is relevant. What’s relevant is how it makes you feel. How do you act or what do you do when you feel that way? Do you pretend? Lie? “Stick up for yourself” by yelling? Or do you go talk about them behind their back?
How are YOU behaving?
This is by far the hardest step but it takes us out of the victim role and into empowerment.
When I find myself in a place of blame, I like to take a step back and ask myself a few questions.
Why in the world would someone come in and act like that?
What is going on for them?
What are they thinking that is causing them to act that way?
Is any part of what they said even true?
What am I making this mean about me?
Anytime you notice yourself feeling upset or hurt by what someone else said, it’s because there is some tiny part of you that believes it to be true. If you knew 100% that what they said had absolutely no merit, you wouldn’t even bat an eye at it. You would just brush it off like it was nothing. This is a great insight to have when you notice it.
When you find yourself in negative emotion about someone else’s action, it’s because you’re making it mean something about you. What are you making it mean?
YOU get to decide how something will affect you.
Remember, other people’s words and actions have nothing to do with you until you decide it does. What is true about what has been said? Is there any truth to it?
Decide Who You Want to Be
Once you have done your own work, decide who YOU want to be in the relationship. How do YOU want to behave? How would you have to feel in order to show up that way? What would you need to think about them in order to feel that way?
There is so much power in just deciding how you want to be with someone…no matter what they say or do.
When you blame someone for how you feel, you’re giving that person all of your emotional power. You’re giving them the ability to determine how you feel. And what’s fascinating is that we usually give our emotional power away to people who are the last person on Earth we would want to delegate our emotional life to.
Remember Human Freedom
You also want to remember that other people, just as you do, have the freedom to be who they want to be, say what they want to say and do what they want to do…at all times. None of it is in your control. We can only control how WE show up. I find so much freedom in knowing this. It’s exhausting trying to control other people.
You can try to control them or get them to change, but ultimately whether or not they comply is completely up to them…always.
Communicate with Love
Once you’ve done all YOUR work, only then, should you go talk to the other person about it. Talking to them about it from a negative space isn’t likely going to serve you well. Wait until you feel clear and calm and you’re in a clean emotional space.
Then, communicate from a place of honesty and kindness.
Showing up from a place of love, kindness, and honesty will always deliver a better result.
Stacy R. Landry
P.S. I could use your help! I’m working on creating a free tool just for my subscribers and I would love to get your input on what kind of tool would be the most helpful to you. Just click here to pick your choice: Help Me Pick a Freebie!