Relationship Lesson

When Michael and I argue or have any conflict we have different needs. Most times, I want to be touched and he wants space. Once we understood that about each other we started to learn (with the help of our mentor) how to go about resolving conflict more quickly.

 

It is completely unnatural for me to give him space. I want to hug him, hold him, and talk to him immediately until we have gotten through whatever it is. For him he finds it unnatural to touch me in those moments. He wants his space to clear his head, feel his emotions, and come back ready to clear the air. Neither approach is right or wrong – just different.

 

Because we love each other so much and want desperately to be the best versions of ourselves and satisfy the others needs we need to find a way to comfort the other. But what do you do when the comfort they are looking for conflicts with your own needs of comfort?

 

When Michael comes to me and touches me while I am upset I have to remember that this is the equivalent of him crawling out of the depths of hell to make me feel good. If I give him space, he needs to remember that it feels equally as uncomfortable and causes me the same pain as when he reaches out. With this in mind how do we find a common ground? How can we make it easier for the other to comfort us?

 

We celebrate the smallest progress.

 

The first time Michael tried this he reached over to me with the stiffest hand and patted me on the leg. It was the most awkward touch that was not anywhere close to the kind of touch that I was looking for. In that moment every part of my being wanted to stay upset and angry but the stronger part of me knew that this was so incredibly hard for him to do. If I rejected him in that moment of vulnerability, he would probably be terrified to ever try again. Instead I looked at him and thanked him for trying, praised him and let him know how grateful I was. Because of that he became more comfortable to try again and again and again until now he can come to me pull me into his arms and soften my mood just the way I like it (most times lol).

 

It might seem weird but we are all animals. We need to be conditioned too. When I was in University we worked with lab rats and taught them to push a lever to get a pellet of food. At first if the rat got close to the lever we let out the pellet, then when they touched the lever, and finally only when they pushed the lever down did they get the reward. Michael is much more handsome than the lab rat but him and I work just the same.

 

EXTRA CREDIT.

 

This principle can work with any behavior you are looking for. Praise the people you love for even the smallest of things to make them more comfortable doing the behaviors that don’t come naturally to them. If you want someone to work out more? Praise them for taking the stairs instead of the elevator, for going on a walk instead of driving, let them know how sexy their body is looking! Everyone wants to make others happy and proud so praise even the things that are not yet praiseworthy so eventually they will become so.

This one is personal.

Family is where you learn all of your habits good and bad.

 

Ever find that you have the same behavior present itself over and over again? Probably something you wish you didn’t do. For me two of the many have been feeling like I need to deal with conflict immediately and associating my volume with how right I am – the louder I am the more likely I am to “win.” Yours might be something completely different like completely withdrawing in the face of conflict, lying about certain things because you think it’s for the best, or not saying sorry and taking accountability for your part in an argument.

 

All of these habits were things you learned from the people you spent the most time with from ages 0 to 10 – usually your family. Those are the people that taught you how to love, accept love, argue, make up, have fun, and be happy. I am sure if you really think about it you can spot the same habit in them too. None of it is bad or wrong because they also taught you all your amazing habits but eventually you leave your house and start to develop relationships with people that learned differently than you did.

 

As you grow up and you see how other people live you realize that there are other ways you can do things that might serve you better. Dealing with conflict immediately leads me to act out of emotion and leaves no space for me to think logically. Once I saw someone take a moment, breath, and simply ask for some space I realized I could do that too. Every time I have done that I reach a faster and more peaceful conclusion. Does that mean I do it every time conflict occurs? Absolutely not. In fact sometimes I will even go the other direction and go cold and withdraw. However, the awareness and learning of other strategies that can replace my own bad habits has begun to create new patterns of behaviour for me. Now maybe in 2 out of every 10 conflicts I will stay calm, breathe, and not speak until I can be sure it is coming from a kind and authentic place. That is progress for me.

 

The biggest challenge of them all is to use your new found skills with the people who taught you the bad ones in the first place or with the people you are most vulnerable with (usually a spouse or best friend). Around my family the strongest manifestation of my bad habit will occur. Maybe this is because I know they love me unconditionally and will forgive me either way, or because this is the source of the habit. The sound of their voice, their physical presence, and their mannerisms are triggers. This is where it is the easiest to slip back in to old habits. There has not been a single time I have yelled, or reacted out of emotion and not regretted it. Every time I am embarrassed and shameful wishing I could go back in time and try it all over again. Now, I might be able to stay calm with friends, or new people I meet, but when it comes to my family or someone I can be vulnerable with like my husband I am presented with the greatest challenge of all.

 

I truly believe that if you can change your habits with your family or whoever you spent those early years with, you can change them for good. It is never too late to learn, grow, change, and most importantly say sorry. Hopefully they can join you in that journey and if not, your example will be strong enough to show them what’s possible for them too.

So You Want to Achieve a Goal?

Life is about growth. To me “the dream” is to wake up each day with purpose, a reason to be better. I recently learned a lesson from my mentor Annie Hyman Pratt that I think can relate to everything in life.

 

In our process of growth, learning, achievement, success, whatever it is, we always start somewhere and have an end goal, outcome, or vision. The starting point is A and the big outcome is B. When you start at A the range of acceptable behaviours is wide but the closer we get to B the narrower this becomes.

 

To make the point clearer I will use Basketball as an example. Starting at A is a young toddler just learning to play and at B this same player is playing in the NBA.

 

A young basketball player is praised for simply running in the appropriate offensive or defensive direction, or maybe just lining up in the right position. If they travel with the ball or don’t know how to dribble it’s acceptable. At that stage pretty much anything goes because its all about sparking that passion and making sure it’s fun!

 

Now, when you leave A and start moving towards B things become narrower. Now the basketball player needs to learn how to dribble the ball, shoot the ball, and pass to their teammates. This pattern continues as you get closer and closer to B. The closer you get to B the narrower the acceptable behaviour becomes. Eventually the player will need to understand strategy, offense, defense, and one day they will need to start attending practice. After that, off-court strength and conditioning becomes a factor. Then when you make it all the way to B your personal life is also under scrutiny.

 

You’ve gone from just moving in the right direction to becoming a star in the NBA.

 

If at any point you are unwilling to comply and adjust your behaviour to fit within the appropriate range, you are at a “choice point.” This is a point where you have to make a relatively simple choice. Being outside of the range and still achieving B is not an option, you cannot miss practice, stop working out, and still make it to the NBA. You choose to adjust or leave. Neither choice is better than the other.

 

This analogy can apply to every single goal. Whether you want to lose 50lbs (notice how the last 5 are always the most stubborn?), own a fortune 500 company, or make it to the Olympics. The closer you get the more you have to take into account. No one said achieving your goals would be easy.

 

The thing that I love most about this analogy is the hardest thing for most people to realize. Most people reach a choice point and want to go back to A. They want to go back to when it was acceptable to do those behaviours they are comfortable with. Maybe you want to be able to miss Basketball practice for a friend’s party, but it’s just not an option anymore. “But it used to be okay?!” The funny thing is that once you have left A – started playing more often, started losing weight, started your company, whatever it is – A is no longer an option, it truly doesn’t exist anymore.

 

You cannot go backwards, only forwards.

Stand up for their Greatness

I think it is safe to say we have all had a moment in our lives where you are trying to better yourself and hear some negative feedback. It could be going to the gym, following a new diet, saying no to some drinks, deciding to spend quality time with your significant other, or starting a new course.

 

You may have heard:

 

“Do you really need to track everything you eat? One piece of pizza won’t kill you.”

“You are already skinny you don’t need to diet.”

“O my goodness you’re so obsessed with the gym.”

“You’re so lame. Let loose for once and have some drinks with us!”

 

That kind of feedback is almost always coming from a place of insecurity in the person providing it. If they can convince you to stop succeeding or working to better yourself, they will feel better about whatever it is they are self conscious about.

 

The thing is that we innately want to make others feel better or avoid having them dislike us. We CRAVE connection and this threatens that. So we will cave, we won’t stand our ground, and we will eat that pizza, or have those drinks. Doing what you set out to do even when everyone around you is trying to convince you not to is hard and uncomfortable, it is easy to give in and follow the majority. I am going to challenge you to make a different choice and shift your mindset.

 

My coach Annie Lalla taught me that It is your responsibility to stand up for their greatness.

 

This applies to your friendships, family, and intimate relationships. It is your responsibility to do whatever it is anyways. If you care about them, you need to push through the discomfort and do what is best for YOU. The funny thing is that this has just as much to do with making you better and making THEM better. This will help them be their best selves. I know it seems counterintuitive but I will explain why this works.

 

People won’t do as you say. You might encourage them to take control of their nutrition, to try a new diet, to head to the gym, or to have a difficult conversation with someone they have conflict with. But I am sure you have been in those situations where they just don’t listen. The reason is because that doesn’t work. What does work is SHOWING them what prioritizing your health and fitness looks like, what being happy and confident means, and when they see you sticking to your guns even in the face of adversity they will forget about trying to bring you down and ask you for help.

 

Those comments will turn into:

“So, tell me a little more about this fitness thing you’re doing.”

“You inspired me to go to focus on my nutrition and really push myself.”

“Thank you for really setting an example of what dedication looks like.”

 

Try it. I dare you.

You Make You Feel

External factors are never responsible for making you feel emotions. You aren’t sad because of what your boyfriend said, angry because of the girl that ignored you, or jealous because of someone getting the job you wanted. There is no person or thing that can make you feel something – you are in control.
Those feelings come from the thought that you created afterwards. Thoughts like:

“He doesn’t love me”
“She was trying to be rude to me on purpose”
“I wasn’t good enough to get that job”

Those thoughts fuel the fire and are 100% under your own control. Try and catch yourself thinking those negative thoughts and choose a positive thought that you truly believe instead. Try:

“He would never intentionally hurt my feelings – he loves me”
“She probably has a lot going on in her personal life”
“I will be okay and work hard to get a job I love”

That positive thought will result in a calmer attitude, more rational actions, and likely a happier more successful you!

Why You Should Wake up Early

Due to traveling almost 50% of the year it is so hard for me to get into a solid and consistent routine. It’s easy to feel like I am on vacation even though it might be for work, or for a different purpose. I say to myself “I will be able to get back into routine when I am home” even though I know deep down that I will be home for a week until I have to leave again. So I eat out at restaurants, sleep in, and go to bed late.

Recently, I made a commitment with Michael to wake up each day at 7am (he wakes up at 6am). I realized that this is one thing I can control no matter where I am, and one change that I know I can make. After a couple of weeks being consistent and actually following through I see how this is the best decision I could have made for my focus, productivity, and over all mood.

Have you ever started you day knowing you have 15 minutes to get showered and dressed, then maybe 10 minutes to make breakfast that you will have to eat on the go, just to get to work right on time? Then you get to work flustered from the rush, frustrated, and it takes you 30 minutes to get your focus together and start working which may in turn force you to stay 30 minutes later than you should. That feeling is best described as trying to catch up with a day that has already started. I have been there – for years. I know how tempting it is to hit the snooze button when you technically don’t need to be up for another hour. I even used to revel in how amazing that 45 minutes of extra sleep felt.

In the book “The Perfect Day Formula” – Craig Ballantyne, he says something along the lines of “Do you really want the first decision you make in your day to be hitting snooze? What does that say about how the day will go?” and this really resonated with me. Sure, it is hard to get out of bed but once you’re up you are ahead of the day! You can casually get dressed, take a shower, put on a pot of coffee and sit down to relax and enjoy your morning ritual. This is an opportunity for you to do the things you “don’t have time for” whether it be reading, writing, art, or brainstorming a side project.

For me this has been a game changer. I wake up, get dressed, sit to read or draw, and sip on coffee while I wait for breakfast to be ready. Once it is time to start working I am relaxed, and feel like I am ahead of the day. There is no longer a 30 minute “get focused” period of time, I can get right into it and in most cases I will finish early!

If you can’t imagine getting up at 6 or 7am try just getting up 15 minutes earlier than you normally do. Do this for 7 days straight and see how it makes you feel.

Let me know how it goes!

 

 

Say Yes

I spent many years of my life terrified of making friends, asking people to do things, and getting off the couch where I comfortably snacked and watched marathons on TV. I justified it by saying things like:

“I just love staying home. Going out is too stressful”

“I save so much money staying home”

“The perfect date for me is movie, pizza, and the couch”

The truth is that I was just afraid people wouldn’t like me, afraid of the discomfort that comes with making new friends, saying the wrong thing, and maybe embarrassing myself. I now understand that the couch will always be there and you can find every episode and movie imaginable on Netflix or iTunes. You’re not missing out on anything at home, it’s all happening out there!

Say yes.

Say yes when someone asks you to go to the park, to a movie, to dinner, or to a new area of town. Saying yes will make the times that you can sit on the couch lazily that much more satisfying and who knows, maybe you’ll have some new friends to join you!

Asking people to hang out, or agreeing to a social gathering is kind of like sex or working out. Sometimes you think you are just too tired, lazy, or sore. But really, have you ever regretted a great workout or some great sex?

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.

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.

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”