This is the second Lesson in the Stay Sane in Your Relationships Class 2021.
If you understand the first principle of relationships (that you can only control yourself and you can’t control other people), then you basically have two options: You can either keep being mad at other people and wishing that they would change, or you can try to accept them and love them the way they are. It is a choice between being mad and being happy. A choice between accepting the other person as they are or continuing to resist them and hoping that they will change.
Here are some examples of how your thoughts might change as you try to make the shift from being mad at others for the way they act to accepting the way they act.
This advice to go from resistance to acceptance might seem overly simplistic, but it really works. Just try to redirect your thoughts toward loving that person exactly as they are. When all the thoughts come about how you are annoyed with them and they are making your life miserable, gently redirect it in this direction: “Hey, maybe I am annoyed with them. But I can’t change them. So do I want to keep being annoyed or do I want to focus on loving them?”
Sometimes I have a REALLY hard relationship with a certain extended family member. When I talk with them, my mind is filled with all the things that I think they should change. “I don’t like how they do this…they think they know everything”…etc. But if I just focus on loving them exactly as they are, it changes my whole demeanor. Sure, they can be annoying or different, but that’s okay. I love them anyway. They are just the way they want to be right now. And nothing I say or do can make them change, so I can either be mad at them all the time or love them. I choose to try and love them.
Some questions to ask yourself
If you have a “bad” relationship with anyone, stop and ask yourself these questions:
- Am I trying to control them in any way?
- What do I wish was different about them?
- If they acted how I wanted them to act, how would I feel? What would I start thinking about them if they changed?
- How can I just love them the way they are?
A lot of the time, the reason we are so mad at another person is because we are making their behavior mean something bad about ourselves. If your husband doesn’t want to help with the dishes, it might make us feel like he doesn’t love us or that we are not lovable. But what if that isn’t true? What if his behavior has nothing to do with your worth?
If your kids are behind their peers in certain areas, how does that make you feel about yourself? Does it make you feel like a failure? What if that isn’t even true?
Here are a few more examples of how this principle can work in your life.