Be the Hero

Yesterday Michael posted about The Messy Middle and going through that awkward, “what do I say”, “how do I fix this” stage of an argument with your significant other rather than avoiding it completely. Today I want to piggy-back on his thoughts and talk about being the Hero.

You know that feeling when you fight in your relationship and there is this unspoken tension you both feel but are both terrified to talk about? We have all been there, wanting to resolve the conflict so bad but not being able to bring ourselves to say the first word. Maybe you don’t want to say something first because you are the one who was hurt the most, and you’re feeling insecure.  Or maybe he doesn’t want to say something first because he doesn’t feel he did anything wrong.

The reality is that the person who says something first is the Hero. That person overcame their fear and courageously broke the silence. Your relationship being okay is more important than any fight, argument, or “win.” They are standing up for your relationship and assuming strength in you. Assuming that together you will be able to handle the discomfort that comes with finding a resolution and end up on the other side happy, in love, and with a better understanding of one another.

Next time you find yourself fighting with your loved one and that awkward, tense silence comes up. Take a deep breath, remember that they love you, and be the Hero! Or if they are the Hero – thank them for their bravery.

Try:

  • “I can’t stand not being okay with you. How can we resolve this?”
  • “Let’s talk this out and make sure we are both feeling 100% before we move on.”
  • Take accountability for your part – there is always something there.

Avoid:

  • “Let’s just agree to disagree.”
  • “We can just move on and I will get over it.”
  • Blame, accusations, judgement.

The Messy Middle

I grew up thinking that good relationships don’t have conflict. There is no fighting, very little arguing, and generally everything is perfect.

Over the years I’ve learned just how destructive those beliefs are.

We are human and we WILL catch feelings. We will get jealous, angry, hurt, scared, lonely, sad, embarrassed, and more. We have all of these emotions for different reasons.

Fear kept us from being eaten by a lion, and jealousy may have kept us from having letting another caveman steal our cavewoman.

Bottling up and trying to hide these emotions intensifies them or turns them into something completely different such as shame or depression.

The perfect relationship is one of complete authenticity, and the fastest way to move through emotion is to feel it and talk about it.

After years of “working on myself” through therapy, reading, and practice I’ve subconsciously developed this new form of hiding. I feel that after all this work I should be fixed and shouldn’t have “negative emotions” anymore.

When I catch myself in that type of thinking I remind myself of a concept Brene Brown talks about a lot in her writing called The Messy Middle.

A couple days ago Adee said something, and I became insecure. It was something very petty, and usually I would be embarrassed that I even felt it and try to hide it and make it go away being. I would also be afraid of her reaction to me talking about it. This time I decided to speak up.

Enter the messy middle.

For the next few minutes we awkwardly talked through this issue. I was uncomfortable. She was uncomfortable. Neither of us was clear on how to get through it. That is the messy middle.

What came next was huge progress. I had overcome my bad habit of hiding, she thanked me for bringing it up and not letting it build up, and then she gave me a fat kiss. Pretty standard.

The messy middle is a part of every fearful conversation and every big goal we set for ourselves. It is that space in which we don’t know exactly how things are going to go next.

“Is she going to leave me if I say this?”

“Is he going to think I’m selfish for even bringing this up?”

“What if this business fails? Will I ever be able to get another job?”

The messy middle is scary as hell and can be paralyzing depending on the situation.

All I know is this. The only way I’ve found through difficult conversations, and the times I’ve been most proud/fulfilled of what I’ve done is by going through the messy middle.

Lead by Example

It is easy to look at others and think about what they could do better, how you would have done it, or things they do that upset you. You might try and explain “well, maybe next time you can do it this way.” “If you spoke to me with these words, I wouldn’t have reacted that way.”

 

One of the most effective ways that I have seen to get people doing things the way you want them to is by doing it yourself. You want someone to be kinder, you should be kinder. You want someone to practice gratitude more often, you should practice gratitude more often.

 

People forget the things you say and ask for but it is hard for them to ignore the way you act and the things you do. My mother used to always tell me “talk is cheap” and I couldn’t agree more. If you really do think that the way you want them to do things is better, more effective, or more polite it will be easier to prove when they see how it works for you.

 

Next time you want someone to do something differently think to yourself if you behave the way you want them to. I bet in most cases you don’t, and that is your first step.

Good in the World

Turn on the news at any time and you can see all the horrors of the world.

Go to any grocery or superstore and you can see all of the scandals of the world.

Hang out with insecure, “small minded” people and you’re bound to hear all of the negative gossip about all the people you know and those you don’t.

All of this contributes to the sayings ‘I have no faith in humanity” or “we’re all doomed.” It’s no surprise that so many people think that this world is nothing but negativity.

When we see terrorism, beatings, murders, kidnaps, etc. on the news we get a shot of adrenaline. It is addicting, and that addiction to wanting to see more, more, more, is what keeps the tabloids and news stations profitable.

If you pay close enough attention you can see so much beauty, love, and generosity in the world.   The law of attraction is a real thing. Rather than focus on and perpetuate more negativity, we can choose to focus on, praise, and attract more good in our lives.

How to Argue and Overcome Conflict

There are three common ways of arguing and resolving conflict with someone:

  1. Both people play the victim taking no blame.
  2. Both people try to take full blame, victimizing the other person.
  3. Both people divvy up the blame so that one has 50% and the other 50%, or one has 70% and the other 30%, etc.

Obviously nothing gets accomplished with the first two. The problem with the third is most often both people feel victimized to a certain extent. Many times there is a sense that one person is more wrong, and they get a point in the “bad” column. That’s how resentments form.

A New Way

In any situation there is 200% responsibility to be taken.100% per person. When we take full responsibility for creating things in our life we can solve any problem and overcome any argument.

When I’m in a “fight” with Adee, I start out by being caught up thinking about how she’s wrong. Then I slowly start to focus on my part. What did I do to create this? There is literally not a single instance that I didn’t have a part in it.

When something goes wrong at work. I start out a lot of times thinking about who didn’t do their job correctly and why. Then I slowly start to focus on my part. I always find that I haven’t explained the objective properly, forgot some essential piece of information, didn’t train the person the right way in the first place, etc.

It’s amazing how much faster we can reach a resolution when we take 100% responsibility for what we create.

Two Step Process for Overcoming Fear

Fear comes in millions of different forms.

“What if I ask her out and she says no? It will be the most embarrassing thing of my life.”

“If I try as hard as I possibly can on this project and still fail, then that means I’m not good enough. I’d rather just put in minimal effort. If it works out great. If it doesn’t I can use the excuse that I didn’t try that hard.”

“What if I ask for a raise and I get fired instead?”

“I can’t let anyone know the real me. No one would understand me or accept me, and I can’t blame them. There are just parts of myself that I will keep hidden.”

“I can’t start a blog. There are so many blogs out there, why would anyone ever want to read mine? And they’ll probably think, ‘Who the hell does this guy think he is starting a blog?’”

Fear is what holds us back from reaching our goals and making our dreams a reality. It holds us back from connecting with loved ones and developing trust. It holds us back from anything that isn’t a sure thing.

Adee interviewed me on the Brute Strength Podcast this week, and one of the questions she asked was, “What advice do you have for anyone struggling with fear?” My answer:

  1. Think of all of the possible worst-case scenarios. Write it down, and write how likely each of them is to happen. My first time doing this was eye opening. I realized that even the worst-case scenarios weren’t that bad, and that the worst ones were extremely unlikely. That relieved the uncomfortable feeling significantly.
  2. Do whatever it is you’re afraid of on a Trial Period. One thing that makes things scarier than they need to be is by thinking of them as permanent. So try out a new hobby for a week and see how it goes.   Do that open mic night you’ve been wanting to do just once and see how it goes. Go back to school for a semester, and see how it goes. Very few things in life are forever. By doing things on a trial basis they lose a lot of their power over us, and we can take more risks.

Overcoming fear is a lifelong process. We can’t just do the work now and be comfortable for the rest of our lives. To live the richest, most fulfilling lives possible we must constantly be pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones. What is scary as hell now will be a piece of cake next year, and we will be on to something new.

How to Create Time

You can look at time in two ways. Either time is something that you are using up or time is something that you create. If you take the first approach you will never have enough time and always wish there were extra hours in a day. If you start to understand that you are the keeper of time and that you can create as much or little time as you need you’ll never be late, and you will always do the things you love.

It is not “I don’t have enough time to do that” it is “I don’t want to make time for that right now.” The first is a justification for why you can’t do something where the second is really the truth. For example, you are working on some emails that need to get out by the end of the day and your daughter comes over to ask you to play with her. You say “I’m sorry baby but I just don’t have the time right now.” What if we changed the situation and now your daughter runs over to you with a large gash on her leg that needs stitches. Do you still not have the time? Of course not. In the second scenario you will make the time to help her. You may think telling her you don’t have time is polite but what is more powerful is telling her “I am working on some emails right now, how about I make some time when I am finished to play with you?”

What is important to you? Is it friends, your partner, family, fitness, art? Whatever it is, it is easy to fall into the trap of doing less important things knowing that those people and things you love will always be there, when you have time. I challenge you to make time for those things. Change “I don’t have time” to “I will make time.”

Taking on the responsibility of creating your own time is a big undertaking but can completely change your life. You no longer have any excuses, and that’s scary but also powerful.

  • Pay attention this week to how often you say “I don’t have time” “there isn’t enough time” “We will run out of time”
  • Change your language to “I will make time” “I don’t want to make time”

The Attitude of Gratitude

It’s not enough to just say how grateful you are for someone or something. If you are truly grateful, express it through your actions.

  • If you are grateful for your mom, then spend time with her even when YOU might not want to. Really engage with her.
  • If you are grateful for your job, then show up early and go above and beyond every single day. Strive to make the team better.
  • If you are grateful for your body, then continue to exercise, eat and sleep well.
  • If you are grateful for your mind, then keep reading, playing, and learning.

Hopefully mom never gives up on us, but we can certainly lose our job, healthy body, and healthy mind. By actively expressing gratitude we are essentially working to keep the things we love. How often do we take those things for granted, always wanting something more? I sure do.

Feel Your Feelings (and let others feel theirs)

When you feel a “negative” emotion what do you do? Do you ignore it? Try to think of “happy” thoughts to try and make it go away? Do you fill your head with stories making it worse?

We have all of these and many more strategies to try and NOT feel negative emotions. This never works as well as we’d like it to. Bottled up emotion leads to other problems. Bottled up sadness might lead to depression. Bottled up anger might lead to resentment.

By pretending these emotions don’t exist or by distracting ourselves from them, we make them more powerful and persistent.

The fastest way to move through any “negative” emotion is by feeling it fully. As I wrote a few days ago, get in touch with the emotion on the most basic, physical level.

  • Where do I feel it in my body?
  • What shape is it?
  • Is it light, heavy, sharp, dull?

Give it as much detail as possible.

When we avoid and distract ourselves from these feelings, they get stronger and stay longer. The absolute fastest way to get through them is to become aware of them, and let them pass over you like a storm. It may be painful, but not nearly as painful as it will be if you don’t deal with it right now.

The same goes for our relationships with others. If we really want to help someone feel better about something, then saying things like “don’t feel bad” or giving advice isn’t always the answer. Sometimes people have a good reason to feel sad, and we can help by giving them permission to feel it.