The Happiest Lives Podcast

E18: Your Thoughts About the Other Person

September 01, 2023 Jill M. Lillard, MA LPC Season 2023 Episode 18
The Happiest Lives Podcast
E18: Your Thoughts About the Other Person
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready to challenge your perceptions and fuel your relationships? This episode promises to take your understanding of relationships - with yourself, others, and God - to a whole new level. 

Imagine an engine where each part is connected, all contributing to the overall function. The same goes for our relationships; our thoughts, feelings, and actions are all required to keep the engine smooth and robust. We dive into the dynamics of these interactions, scrutinizing the impact of our perceptions on our relationships, the pitfalls of attempting to control others, and the power of authenticity.

Shift your thought gears and prepare for a journey to transform your relationships. We'll explore the power of changing your thoughts and the profound ripple effect it can have on our relationships. We take a hard look at how our stories about the past, shaped by our current thoughts and feelings, can evolve over time. We emphasize the importance of taking responsibility for our own feelings and choosing our thoughts intentionally to create healthier, more loving relationships. 

If you are ready to become the woman God says you already are, you have to join me in Clarity+Courage, my cost-effective coaching group for Christian women.

Learn more and enroll at www.myhappyvault.com/clarityandcourage

Questions? Email Jill directly at Jill@thehappiestlives.com

Speaker 1:

You're listening to the Happiest Lives podcast with Jill Lillard, episode number 18. Welcome to the Happiest Lives podcast, where you'll learn to think better, feel better and become the woman God says you already are. Here's your host, jill Lillard. Welcome to this five-part series Relationship Foundations. I am passionate about this class, as this has been my life's work. I'm excited to help you enjoy your relationships more, not just with others, but with yourself and the Lord. A relationship is an interaction between the parts. So, whether we're talking about cogs in an engine or people in a room, a relationship is the connection between these parts. It's how they work together. I like to think the parts are never independent. As they interact, they are interdependent, forming one unit individually serving the function of the greater whole. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, it tells us the body is the unit made up of many parts and though the parts are many, they form one body. This is how it is in Christ. Romans 1245 states just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body we are many parts of one body and we all belong to each other. As we look at the interaction, let's break down the parts and examine their relationship with a greater whole. So first we have to start with you. If you don't have a good relationship with yourself, you will struggle in relationships with others. Your relationship with yourself is made up of parts. Those parts interact to make up the greater whole which is you. Your relationship with yourself is the interaction of your thoughts, feelings and actions you perceive with your senses, your eyes, ears, touch, taste and your mind takes an information assigning meaning to it. These are your thoughts, based on what you are thinking you feel. Your feelings fuel your actions, how you engage with the world. So knowing what you are thinking is super important. Consciously choosing what you want to believe matters. This will impact how you feel and how you show up. You will then have thoughts about that, which will begin the whole cycle again of thinking, feeling and doing. This is your relationship, not only with the outside world, but with yourself. Your relationship with other people is all your thoughts about them and their thoughts about you. Your thoughts of each other are interacting. We think our relationship is some separate thing outside of us or happening to us, based on how the other person behaves, but really, how we internalize their actions and react is our relationship with them. The same is true for your relationship with God. What you believe about God impacts your sense of identity, worth and having or not having trusting how you think about others in the situations you find yourself in. God has thoughts and shares them with us in his word. He also shares his thoughts through the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts invite and welcome his thoughts, or they don't, as he gives us free will to think and feel and do whatever we want. He doesn't force us or make us. We have this agency. We can interact and take on his thoughts or we can reject them. This does not change who he is and what is true. He will do what he will do, regardless of whether we cooperate or not. When we live a life in step with a spirit, we are surrendering our mind, will and emotions to the one who made us, knows us and loves us. He is the one who is 100% sovereign, even as he gives us 100% free will. This is a paradox that we can't fully understand with our finite human minds, but I believe exist as I study God's Word. In the same way, we cannot understand the paradox of God being three persons in one, or being fully man and fully God. There is a mystery in comprehending God's sovereignty and our free will. Welcoming Jesus into our hearts, inviting him into our minds, will and emotions, begins with believing he is who he says he is. We recognize our unrighteousness, his perfection and our need to be restored. We realize we can't do this on our own, but we must cooperate with his spirit doing the work of redemption. With our mind, we repent of our sins, our infractions against God's perfect law, and recognize our need for a Redeemer, acknowledging Jesus as the one who makes us whole and does what we cannot do for ourselves we believe and receive. The Holy Spirit then takes residence in our hearts with our permission and willingness. He transforms our thinking. His spirit living in us flows through us like a rivers of living water, washing away the old and bringing in the new. This is the beginning and the ongoing process of becoming who he made us to be. In the story of sin and salvation we see that our relationship with Christ willingly begins in our minds as we interact with his thoughts. Our relationship with others begins in our mind as our thoughts interact with another's thoughts. Often people come in for relationship counseling with the belief that their spouse is responsible for their feelings and they are responsible for their partner's feelings. There are a lot of couples interventions and treatments that focus on trying to meet each other's needs. The problem this creates is, if I am responsible for how you feel and react to me and you are responsible for how I feel and react to you, my life will constantly be trying to inadvertently control you with my behavior. When we try to control other people, either by telling them what to do or controlling them by pleasing them, we get frustrated. It doesn't work. People rarely behave how we want them to. The truth is, we barely know how to make ourselves happy, and yet we're always trying to control other people so we will be happier. Manipulating other people's behavior to feel good or manipulating your behavior to try and make them feel good is an endless cycle of disappointment and control. You keep banging your head against the wall, trying to get people to follow your script or trying to follow their script so they will be happy. On the other hand, when you let people be who they are and free yourself to be who you are, you will both show up more authentically. Today, I want you to see that your relationship with someone else is simply all your thoughts about them. You have thoughts about them and they have thoughts about you, which interact with each other. Yet so many of us view our relationships as something happening to us or outside us, and so we lose our effectiveness and feel powerless. I want you to imagine someone in your life that you think you have an amazing relationship with. Think about why you believe you have a great relationship with them. Come up with three things. When I asked myself this about my husband, my three things were he's a good team player, he has a great sense of humor and he is supportive. These are my thoughts about my husband and our relationship. Now imagine there's another person that does not like my husband or his sense of humor. They describe him as annoying and selfish. How is this possible? We are describing the same person. I know many of us is right, or who is wrong. Well, we both are. My relationship is based on my thoughts about him. The other person has thoughts about him that define their relationship with him. Have you ever been besties with someone and then one day, you are no longer friends? What changed? Did the person change or did your thoughts about them change? Maybe they did something and in turn, you changed your assessment and your relationship with him. Now I want you to imagine your most challenging relationship. Why is the relationship hard? What is the sentence about them? Now, you think you're just describing the other person. This person is controlling. You think you are describing the truth about this person, but you are telling me your assessment, your thoughts about them. There is someone else out there who thinks this person is amazing. They may even joke affectionately about their bossiness and anxiety, but they don't feel offended or threatened by it. They love this person. How is this possible? How can one person have such a great relationship with someone and someone have a terrible one Because your thoughts are different? How can one person love the Lord and another person has anger, distrust and animosity toward him? He's the same person. It's because of their thoughts about him. Now let's have a little fun. Let's take the person you have a great relationship with and the one you have a challenging relationship with. Now swap the thoughts. Attribute the positive thoughts to the challenging relationship and the negative thoughts to the positive relationship. If the person you loved did what the other person did, would you have the same thoughts or would you interpret their actions differently? If your daughter did what your mother-in-law did, would you offer her more grace and compassion? Early in my career, I started a new job as a therapist at a community behavioral health center. When I received the chart of my very first client there, recently released for prison for murder, my heart sank and my stomach churned. How could I find compassion for someone that willfully murdered another human being? I noticed all sorts of judgments and fears which made me feel closed off. I wanted to love and help this person, so I asked the Lord to help me see him the way he saw him. This was my first new thought which shifted my will. Lord, I'm willing to see him the way you do. As I willfully participated with God, asking his thoughts to be my thoughts, the Lord was gracious, giving me thoughts that generated feelings of immense kindness, compassion, gratitude and humility around this person. Now, I'm not saying you should only have great relationships and only think positive things about people. Sometimes you want to have negative thoughts about people. I just want you to understand that you can change your thoughts. If you want to feel love and have a better relationship with someone, you must change your thoughts about that person. When you start dating someone, you have many positive thoughts about this person and their relationship. As the relationship progresses, your thoughts may change and so the relationship does. I see this all the time. When I assess a new couple In the interview, I always ask them to tell me about the time they first met and fell in love. Why, of all the people in the world, they married this person? If contempt has set in the relationship, they will have difficulty assessing positive thoughts about dating and falling in love. They will go into negative memories and attributes, even though this is the person they chose to marry. They can't access any positive thoughts. We rewrite our relationship story based on how we're feeling today. When negative thoughts and feelings override positive ones, we will find evidence of negative things in our past. We will tell the story about our past in such a way that it is a sad, sad story. We will view our relationship as something that was always negative, even though there was a time when we said we were in love. I want you to pick a relationship you want to work on. What are the thoughts driving your interactions? I like to capture my thoughts by bullet-pointing 10 to 20 beliefs about the other person. Don't overthink things. Just write what comes to the surface. Your lists may include a mixture of positive and negative things. These are your thoughts. Consider how each thought makes you feel and how you show up when you feel that way. Do you like who you are being in this relationship? Why not? If not, your thoughts probably aren't serving you. But good news you can change your thoughts about the person and your relationship will improve tremendously. What is the main thought you have for this person? I always tell my husband and kids that I love them and you're my best. This makes me feel loving and open, which helps me turn toward them positively and receive their bids to connect. I then find evidence that they are my best. I find more thoughts that support this thought. I feel more loving. Now this doesn't mean I love everything my husband and children do or that I don't make requests or set boundaries. It just means I feel more connected, appreciative and loving than if I were thinking about what I don't appreciate about them. Now you don't have to change your thoughts if you don't want to. You can keep any thought that you want, but if you want to feel more appreciative and loving and loved, you can start thinking about others in a way that generates these feelings, which feels so much better than being frustrated. The alternative is put your energy into wanting others to change so you can feel better when we have a manual that we think they should follow, believing we are entitled to certain things. We suffer. We will talk more about that in an upcoming episode in this series, but until then, know that you can stop trying to control or change the other person by taking responsibility for what you are thinking, feeling and how you are showing up in the relationship. It's easy to justify being a jerk when you think other people are being a jerk. I was rude because they were rude. I shut down and withdrew because they did this thing. I lied because they lied. But you must ask yourself if this is who you want to be. Is this how you want to show up and do you want to give all your power to the other person, blaming them for your actions, or do you want to be loving and kind, no matter how others act? The easiest way not to somehow mirror or react to what you see someone else doing is to decide ahead of time how you want to think about them. This takes discipline and being very intentional and aware. I also believe filtering our thoughts about the other person through our beliefs about God's goodness, faithfulness, grace, sovereignty and love can help us renew our minds and find ways to experience more love. Jesus gives us the perfect example of loving. Despite mistreatment, he was focused on his mission, the reason he was here, and he could look at the people in his circumstance in a way many of us wouldn't. In response to his oppressors, he said Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. His eyes were focused on his vindicator even as he became our redeemer. Now we aren't Jesus and we never will be. But even David, who was imperfect, was said to have a heart like his. I think of David's relationship with King Saul. Though Saul mistreated him and threatened his life, david viewed Saul in such a way that he never took matters into his own hands by harming or disrespecting Saul, although we see he set boundaries, fleeing from Saul when he threatened his life. His thoughts about God shaped David's thoughts about Saul. Despite Saul's flaws in pursuit of David, david respected that Saul held a divine appointment. David believed it was not his place to harm or overthrow God's chosen King. David desired to do what was right in the eyes of God, even in the face of personal danger and injustice. He had a deep trust in God's sovereignty and timing. He believed that if God had anointed him to be the future King, then God would bring it to pass in his way and time. And God proved himself faithful. As always, david demonstrated a compassionate and forgiving nature, even though Saul pursued him with deadly intent. David had opportunities to kill Saul. He chose to show mercy. Instead, he believed it was better to spare Saul's life and let God deal with him as he saw fit. By sparing Saul's life, david showed great restraint, faith and obedience to God. His actions serve as an example of righteousness and trust in God's sovereignty, even in the face of adversity. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, he will renew our minds and allow us to partner with His plans and purposes. So what's going on in your relationship? What is the focus of your mind and energy? Is it serving you? Do you like how you're feeling and showing up? If not, it's possible. There's another way to look at things. This is the work we are doing this month, in Clarity and Courage. If you want to build better relationships, I will walk you through this process inside my coaching program Sign up today, where I ask you questions so you can apply the knowledge. We also have a worksheet workshop where you can meet with other Christian women doing the same work. I offer a live coaching call where you can work through a specific relationship struggle. That's all for today. We have laid the foundation. Come back, as there are four more episodes on relationship foundations. Have a beautiful rest of your day and I can't wait for the next time we're together.

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