Thursday Thought:…and I Love Him Anyway

I was chatting with a friend about marriage relationships. There always seems to be at least one thing (sometimes lots of things ;)) about our spouse that constantly causes contention. It could be something small like the way they squeeze the toothpaste out of the bottle. Or it could be something big like they don’t tell you their travel schedule, and all of sudden leave on a business trip without warning. What do we do when there’s something that we feel so upset about, but our spouse isn’t changing?

The way I see it is your spouse may never change. Either they’re not willing, or they don’t see it as such a big deal, or maybe it’s just that change can be hard and take a lot of effort and time. So, you can either be upset about it, which usually leads to arguments and fights, and not being the kind of spouse you want to be. Or you can choose a different way to feel about it that is more effective.

A go-to thought that might help you is, “(Enter name of spouse) squeezes the toothpaste from the middle of the tube, and I love him anyway.” When you really step back from it, you know it’s not a big deal, so why not just love them, and straighten out the tube. Or if you really want to, request that they do it differently. They may or may not comply, but either way, you get to be loving, which feels a lot better than being petty and disagreeable.

Let’s try it in the other example, “(Enter name of spouse) doesn’t think to tell me his travel schedule for work, and I love him anyway.” This might feel like a bigger deal, but when you can see that they sincerely mean you no harm, it doesn’t do any good to get upset about it. If you just love them, and accept that’s how they are, you can again make a request, explain why it would benefit you (or him) if he kept you in the loop about his schedule, from a loving place. They may or may not comply, but at least you get to feel love and acceptance instead of hurt.

You don’t have to love that they do the things they do, but you can love them despite of some of the things they do. It doesn’t mean you don’t make requests, or set boundaries, but you get to love and accept them where they are and the way they are. It feels so good!

When have you felt unconditional love?

Confidence In Relationships

Confidence in our relationships comes from knowing that our feelings come from our thoughts, not from anything that anyone else says or does, and that others’ feelings come from their thoughts.

When we think we can make people angry, or that people can hurt us, we walk around putting up taller and taller walls so no one can get through and hurt us. We don’t get close to very many people, because we never know if they’re going to hurt us. We tip toe around other people because we think we can hurt them.

When we know that we cause our own emotions by what we think, we can be a lot more open. We can take the walls down and interact with people. We have confidence that if someone were to say something rude to us or about us, or if they were to point out a weakness, that we don’t have to be hurt, because we are only hurt when we think hurtful thoughts. We have confidence that we can do our best to be kind and loving, and sometimes people will have thoughts that hurt them, but in the end, we can’t cause their emotions. We are free to try to be our best selves.

How would knowing only you can hurt you help you to be more open in your relationships?

Thursday Thought: This Is Going To Be Fun

Last week I talked about not piling on extra negative emotion when you’re already feeling some negative emotion when things are hard. But what if you just decided it wasn’t going to be hard?  Jody Moore says this is her go-to thought. I’ve used this a lot, too, and it really does make a difference. Usually things start to feel hard for me when I take them too seriously and they become heavy. This thought helps lighten everything and take the weight off.

When you are thinking, “This is so hard.” Try changing your thought to, “This is going to be fun.” It just opens your mind to possibilities of how to make it fun or easier.

If you’ve been following, you know I recently started running again. Sometimes I don’t feel like running. Sometimes I just go anyway, and sometimes I try to change my thought to, “This is going to be fun.” I love it. It really is more enjoyable. I let go of my expectations of speed or time, and fun becomes my motivator.

I used this the other day when I needed to go grocery shopping, but was dreading it. I thought, “This is going to be fun.” I started thinking of ways to make it fun. I decided to listen to a podcast on the way, and to just take my time walking up and down the aisles. I didn’t try to get it done as quickly as possible, I just took my time, and enjoyed looking at everything. Seriously, so much better.

What do you want to be more fun?

Pleasure vs. Well-being

I listened to this amazing podcast by Brooke Castillo about pleasure vs. well-being. She’s saying that false pleasure is a temporary high. It’s something that gives us a dopamine spike. Things like sugar, drugs, pornography, anything highly concentrated. The problem with this is two-fold. First, you have to use more and more of the false pleasure to get the same feeling. Second, most of these have negative long-term consequences.

I was teaching the children at church one time about short-term and long-term consequences. We had a stick and on one end had the word choices, on the other end had the word consequences. We talked about how when you pick up a stick, you pick up both ends. So often, we say things like, “You will be happy when you choose the right.” But sometimes you don’t feel that great when you choose the right…until later. What about when you tell the truth about breaking a lamp instead of lying? What about getting a bad score on your test because you didn’t study, instead of cheating? What about choosing to just feel bad instead of reaching for cookies? Or trying to see something from another perspective, instead of yelling at your husband? At first, it doesn’t feel that great to choose the right sometimes.

This is how I understand well-being vs. false pleasure. It’s making your choice based on how you want to feel in the future, not how you want to feel in this moment. When you choose false pleasure, you need more and more of it as time goes on to feel the same way. When you choose well-being, you get more and more true pleasure from it as time goes on. It feels great to not carry around lies, and to have the trust of other people. It feels great to have learned from a bad choice. It feels great to actually deal with your emotions rather than stuffing them down. It feels like such a relief to be able to disagree with someone without feeling so angry, or causing more harm.

In what ways do you choose well-being over pleasure?


Thursday Thought: It’s Okay That This Is Hard

So often we feel mad, resentful, or upset about things feeling hard. We have thoughts like, “If this is good for me, it should feel good.”

One example is exercising. When you first start exercising, it does take some commitment, because you don’t get an immediate effect. You’re not all of a sudden strong because you work out one day. You get a little stronger each time you work out. So sometimes it might be hard to exercise. But if we have thoughts like, “This shouldn’t be hard. This should be easier.” Then we’re piling the feeling of anger on top of the feeling of resistance from the thought, “This is hard.”

Another example is in relationships. Any long-term relationship is going to experience conflict or disagreement. You will have to figure it out with the other person. This doesn’t always feel great. But if you have the thought, “This shouldn’t be this hard.” You’re just piling on the feeling of resentment on top of the feeling of disappointment from the thought, “This is hard.”

Next time you find yourself thinking, “This shouldn’t be that hard.” Try changing that thought to, “It’s okay that this is hard.” Then, even though it’s hard, at least you’re not piling on extra negative emotion.

What other thoughts help you when things are hard?

Planning Ahead of Time

A little over a year ago, my parents wanted to take some of their grandchildren to Disneyland, and they were so kind to let my sister and I tag along (the moms). We were all excited taking pictures at the entrance, and then we went in. My sister noticed that all of the walkways in the park came back to this statue (above). She called her kids in close and told them, “If you get lost, come back to this statue, and I will come find you.” Just a few hours later, no one could find my 6 year old niece. After looking for only a minute, my sister said, “I’m going to the statue. That’s where I told her I’d find her.” My sister was back in just a few minutes with her daughter. Every time I think of this story I get emotional. Just the trust that my sister had put in her kids to listen to her, and then the trust that my niece had put in her mom to follow her directions. It’s so touching to me.

There are so many lessons in this story, but one that is really useful is to plan ahead. We think of this mostly as planning what we want to get done, but think about planning ahead how you want to feel. Our thoughts create our feelings, so we can decide ahead of time how we want to feel, by planning what thoughts to think in certain situations. That’s a big reason I do Thursday Thoughts. Everyone is different, so we need different thoughts to feel the way we want to.

Let’s say you want to get some posts written on your blog today (hypothetically), but when you think about it, you feel overwhelm and doubt. Not the best or easiest emotions to write blog posts from. In this situation, perhaps you want to feel focused and inspired. Since those are both emotions, you can come up with some thoughts that make you feel that way, so you can feel focused and inspired while writing your blog posts. Instead of thinking, “I have no idea what to write. People will think it’s stupid.” You could think, “What would I tell my past-self to help her along with her day?” or “There are people who will benefit from my experiences, just as I benefit from other people’s experiences.”

What if you told your kids that you would play a game with them today, but you feel really bored when you think of playing Guess Who for the 1000th time? Perhaps you could change your thought to, “This is going to be fun.” or “How can I make this fun?” or “I love the way she laughs when she wins.”

Remember that you don’t get to plan ahead how anyone else is going to feel, just how you’re going to feel, no matter how anyone else behaves. My sister couldn’t control if her kids listened to her when she told them to go to the statue, but she decided ahead of time what she was going to feel trust. Magic happened when her daughter did the same.

Thursday Thought: Disneyland Left

Once there was a family that dreamed about going to Disneyland. Finally, they had saved enough money, bought their tickets, and were on their way. They drove a long time, and just as they got close, they came to a sign that said, “Disneyland left.” They were so disappointed. They cried, turned around, and went home.

This is what we do every time we let failure stop us on our way to our dreams. We think it is the end of the road, but really it’s just like a road sign saying, “You need to go another direction now. This isn’t the way.”

Of course, it would be lovely to have a straight road to our dreams, but usually we get the scenic route, with a lot of road construction and detours. So when you come up against failure, instead of turning around and going home to ponder on a new dream, try a different route. Remember the family who saw the sign, “Disneyland left.”


Zooming In

I love the blogger, HandsFreeMama. She wrote a great post entitled Be Here Now. It’s the concept that when something feels overwhelming or stressful, our brains like to go to the past or the future to escape what is happening. But if you can just zoom in and focus on what’s happening right in this moment, you’ll see that you can handle it.

I have been doing walking/running where you run for a few minutes, and then you walk a minute. The other day, I decided to just run for 15 minutes straight, then walk at the end. My brain kept wanting to think about how I couldn’t run the whole way, how I should just stop and try another day. The thing that kept me going was focusing on the ground right in front of me. I knew where I would start walking, so until I reached that point, I just focused on the step in front of me; I focused on my breathing, on just that moment. It got me through.

What feels daunting to you right now? Fifteen minutes of running straight might seem too hard but you can take the next step. Cleaning the entire house might be too overwhelming, but you can dust this one shelf, or vacuum this one room. Starting a business may seem like a dream that could never come true, but you can write one blog post, or teach one class. Raising kids to adulthood can feel scary, or not yelling at your husband can seem undoable, but you can love them in this moment. Losing 15, 30, or 100 pounds can seem impossible, but you can eat the best way you know how today.

So when it all seems like too much, Zoom In and Be Here Now.