We tend to think that in order to change a relationship it takes the cooperation of the two people involved to make a difference.
We wish our clients communicated better, parents would be less judgmental and critical, and our partner enjoy having long intimate uninterrupted chats watching the sunset. You can probably think of a lot of people that you would change if you could.
The problem with wanting to change people has many levels. One of which is by giving another person credit for your emotional dissatisfaction, putting someone else in control of your emotions - making yourself a perpetual victim (cause who's ever going to get that right!?). Anytime we argue with reality, we lose. Thinking you need someone else to change who they are in order to be happy with them also just sucks for the other person. And let’s be real here, they’ll never “get it right”! Plus you’ll never be satisfied… there will always be something else. And it won't "fix" anything, because the other person isn’t usually the problem to solve for. The problem is always the thinking.
I like easy connections as much as the next guy. But truly the good news is that you don’t need to wait around for the people to change to transform your relationship and increase connection. You can actually shift everything just by focusing on your thoughts about them. Let’s go deeper here shall we.
RELATIONSHIPS ARE THOUGHTS
Your thoughts create your experience of the world. We are under the impression that we have to control the world around us in order to feel good about it. Or that the world has to follow a script in order for us to feel good about it. We bring rules into our relationships that end up locking us into expectations of how the people in our lives should be, do and think. How well they meet our expectations will then determine how we think about them.
You have a friend you think is the bees knees. Someone else doesn’t like her at all. They have a different experience of her. Different thoughts. Your friend doesn’t change, the experience of her does. You can’t have love for your friend. You just have loving thoughts about her. It’s not like love is something you pack up in your purse and take with you when you go see her. Or that you give to her. You can have the sensation of love in your body anytime you conjure loving thoughts.
And why wouldn't we, right? Feeling love is da bomb dot com.
You can’t be mad at someone. You have angry thoughts that make you feel mad in your body. You are the only one that actually feels your anger. Your emotions. When it comes to anger and this "punishing" scenario, my brain flashes to this metaphor of the old Super Mario Brothers game. Think about Mario and Luigi in full power, “big” with all the fireball power. In my mental scene they are together on the pixilated screen and fighting against each other in some about-to-go-to-the-next-level dark room in the castle. In their angry battle they throw fire balls at each other in an attempt to pelt the other, blaming him for the their rage.
Collectively, we think that way... When we get mad because we have a thought about someones actions, we feel like it's almost like we’re throwing fireballs of anger at them to punish them.We can’t punish people with our anger, or anger actions. In reality we are the only ones that feel our own anger. It's ridiculous if you think about it. But anger offers us this sensation of intense negative, urgent energy that wells up inside and feels loud and harsh and...well, urgent.
Similarly someone doesn’t hurt our feelings. We have a thoughts about an event that feels painful to us.
This whole thing with the thought causing the feeling is important, because it’s where our power lies. Because, guys, if we’re holding fireballs of anger you know we can’t actually throw them, right? They don't "transfer". They won’t “shrink down“ the other person or trigger the impending doom/urgent music that will "show them"… that horrid “sensation” is only our own experience. We’re just people in pain because we're holding hot balls of fire.
And I don't care how valid it all feels.... it's always our choice.
Same with warm fuzzy love. We can’t throw warm fuzzy balls at people to make them feel our love. We are the beneficiaries of the love we feel for them. Our thoughts cause it all. Their lovability then is really our own capacity to feel love.
Knowing your relationships are simply thoughts about another person means you’re the one with the power! You can have fabulous relationships. They don’t have to do anything. They don't have to be around. Hell, they don’t even have to be alive!
ADULTS GET TO DO AND BE WHATEVER THEY WANT
Do you know this? I mean really knoooow this? Trying to control the people is ridiculous! Do you also realize that you, you there adult reading this, get to do and be WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT?! You don’t have to do one damn thing you don’t want to do.
Agency and freewill is our God-given right as humans. This doesn’t make us selfish. It makes us human.
We are never responsible for how someone feels (see above and this.)
Doing things because you WANT to is different from doing things because you feel like you have to. Doing things because you feel like you have to so as not to “cause” another human to be mad and throw their fireballs at you is different from wanting to do the things. But adults always get to do what they want to do. Adults can throw their crap in the middle of the floor, smell like feet, blow off a day of work, bang their heads against giant mushrooms for energy, be "wrong" about things and leave their dishes in the sink.
You could complain, yell and throw your fireballs at them because you don’t want them to behave like that. Or, you could let go of tying to control them and realize what a waste of energy it is trying to get someone to behave the way you want them to behave in order to be happy. Ima jump out on a limb and say that you’re STILL not going to be happy when they do what you want them to do.
Shit doesn’t work. I’ve tried. And FOR SURE I’d be writing about how awesome it is if it did work.
Your thinking is what fixes the whole shebang.
Getting to show up with our peeps and just be who we are with them in connection… being loved for who we are, with no agenda for making us some improved or different versions of ourselves, well that is truly one of of the most amazing feelings in the world.
Being known, understood and having connection with others is a beautiful thing.
There is no doubt that doing it for others from a clean place requires us to also offer it to ourselves. Work to your own thoughts to be happy. Know and understand what you need and provide it to yourself. For yourself. That's gracious plenty to try to control. You needn’t change the people around you to be happy or to love them. Just change your mind.
It’s also way more fun to pick up the shit from the floor or put away your dishes because you want to, and not because someone is trying to pounce you with their fireballs.
We are the beneficiary or the sufferer of the feelings we produce with our thoughts. Thoughts are always optional. What emotions do you want to show up with in your relationships?
If you're struggling in a relationship - whether it's a client, a spouse, or with yourself, I can help. Book a complimentary session at hollyherlocker.com/apply today.