THE LIFE SCHOOL PODCAST – Episode 320

“Many of us have a lot of resentment and anger about how (others) behave and how they should be different than they are.”

Today you and I are invited to take a good look at a struggling relationship in our life. And we will do some thoughtwork around our relationship with [person] and our feelings toward [person]. What we want is to ultimately create the relationships that we want.

What is the discrepancy between who we think she should be and who she is? Start by making a list. Write down everything you think [person] should be. Should she live next door, or should she live 3 states away? Should she make and bring the dressing to Thanksgiving dinner, or should she invite everyone to her home for Thanksgiving dinner? Should she show more interest in your life, in your children, in your dreams, or should she show less interest?

Also, do you really know what you want from [person]? If you are feeling negative emotions thinking about [person] or when you are around [person], it’s probably because, either you have a manual written up for how you think she should be and shouldn’t be, and how and when, etc, OR it’s possible you really have no idea what it is you want from her.

Really look at your list. Really put some thought into this.

“It’s really good for you to see it all written down – what your expectations are, what you want – and then to look at the reality of what is and notice the discrepancy that you’re creating. What we do is we blame them for creating the discrepancy. We create the manual that we want them to follow, and then when they don’t meet up to that manual, we get angry and upset and are disappointed that they’re not fulfilling that…

As long as you have those belief systems, as long as you’re going around thinking that she should behave differently than she does, she should be different than she is, you’re going to be struggling in that relationship… This is about you changing this relationship, without her needing to change. She is the C line.”

I put a dear long-time friend into the Model, as part of my thoughtwork this week. And it was incredibly revealing!

  • C – She told me that she wants a better relationship with me.
  • T – Yeah, right. I’ve given her opportunities to connect with me, but she’s never taken them.
  • F – Hurt/Anger
  • A – I separate myself from her. I don’t trust what she says.
  • R – A distant relationship, if there is a relationship at all.

If you aren’t familiar with the model, take a quick look at that post first so this will make sense. Okay. This above is one look at my circumstance (C) being played out in the model. This is probably what Brene Brown would call a SFD, right? It’s it just the first draft. When feelings are running intense, and my mind is clowded with emotions, this is what my first rough draft probably would look like, right?

I went through the activity again, writing out the model with the same statement as the neutral circumstance. And then I went through it again, changing my thoughts on paper each time. I really played around with changing the thoughts and seeing what it did to the feelings, actions, and results. Fascinating, right?

And, you need to know this, I found the result that I wanted – I found it! And, just like cheating at those Choose Your Own Adventure books, from the result I wanted, I traced back to the action, the feeling, the thought that would lead to that result.

And, my friends, I couldn’t do it – I saw what the best thought would be that would lead to that result, and I was not ready to think the best thought. And, just doing this activity yesterday, I felt so incredibly discouraged. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was a disappointment to my family and friends, and to my God. I could not get to the best thought in my mind without incredible resistance.

I sat in my war room, my prayer closet, and I wrestled with myself. And I cried. And I prayed. And, at some point, one of the quotes on the wall in my prayer closet really popped out to me:

“Be patient with yourself. Perfection comes not in this life, but in the next life. Don’t demand things that are unreasonable, but demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that, He will make the difference.”

Russell M Nelson

If I can’t get to “understanding”, can I get to “curiosity”? If I can’t get myself to the “best” thought, can I get myself to a “better” thought? Can I start with a believable thought that is better than yesterday’s thought, and that will lead me to a better feeling than yesterday’s feeling?

Can I demand of myself only “improvement”, trusting that the Lord will help me, over time? Yes, I can!

And I have a testimony of God’s mercy and of His love, as well as His ability to make things right – for me and for [person], even while I am struggling through the process. He is helping me through this process! He is helping her through this, He has not left either of us comfortless.

I think that that is what love looks like! Patience and effort and curiosity and improvement, and trust in the Lord and in His gifts and in His timing. That feels the most like love to me – love for others, love for myself and trust in myself and in the Lord.

“Your manual, when it doesn’t match up to how she is, causes you pain.

Allowing her to be exactly who she is without trying to change her is where all peace and connection lies.”

Do you see how much pain we cause ourselves? Do you see the way “out”? Our relationship with others is really based on all of our thoughts about them.

And by changing our thoughts – from bad to neutral, from neutral to good, from good to better, from better to best – without [person] changing at all, we can change our judgments and feel more compassionate, and ultimately, act in the way that we want to act towards others, and create the relationships that we want.