What do you want to change: a job, a relationship, a lifestyle? The degree of tension between how it is and how you want it to be will influence what you do.
“It’s not that bad.” With a high tolerance for painful situations, this can slip into becoming abusive.
“If I just try this, maybe it will get better.” The process of elimination is a great strategy until it becomes irrational.
“This doesn’t need to be like this. It could be so good if just…” There is injustice in the world.
“I’m not ready.” This can be a really good place recognizing the presence and power of fear that keeps us stuck.
The current situation is familiar although it may be uncomfortable, miserable, or downright painful. The desired situation is uncertain, unknown, or downright scary. Using only emotions, change will happen when the pain of the present becomes greater than the fear of the future.
The problem with using emotions to motivate change is that they are often triggered by past situations as far back as childhood. They shouldn’t be ignored but they also shouldn’t dictate your actions.
Pay attention to emotions. Accept them. Whether you like them or not, the feelings are present; they are not going to change until the current situation does. The emotions aren’t the problem; they are a symptom.
Remember where this started: Something has to change. Once the tornado of emotions is seen for what it is, the work of action can effectively begin.
What’s the first step? You know what it is. Take the step.
“If I do that, then this will happen and then…” If you go down this path of thinking, this is where emotions creep back in to rule the day. We don’t get to know how it will all turn out. We don’t know that we’ll even be alive tomorrow! It is what it is.
Do the next right thing.
Have you ever been to a wedding reception where they offer a Dollar Dance, the time when the guests line up and pay to dance with the bride or groom? Up on their tip toes for the tall guest, crouched awkwardly to dance with the 8 year-old, and holding on as they get dizzy with the life-of-the-party guest!
As they quickly go through the line giving each person a less than a minute personal experience, they have to adjust quickly. Besides wanting the money, they adjust themselves to make the guests feel comfortable: letting them know they matter by paying attention to who they are and recognizing what they need.
It’s the dance of love when we don’t make things all about us. We do the same thing in our relationships when we pay attention.
We often listen and think that what we are hearing is about us. However, if we learn to listen differently, we will discover that people are often telling us something about themelves.
What are they really saying? Where have they been in life? What brings them to this place: what have they done or what’s been done to them?
When someone is blaming you for making them feel bad, hurt, angry, or jealous, it’s not about you. It’s about them.
I know that they are saying it’s all your fault, but they are trying to tell you something. Try to respond differently and see what happens.
“If I had done or said what you wanted, can you tell me how that would have changed how you feel or what you think?”
They still may reply saying, “I would think you cared,” or “I would think you were responsible.”
Seek to understand them further with, “Are you saying you would feel important?” or “Are you saying you would feel protected?”
You are not trapped now to do what they are asking, but now you know what they need. “Ok. Thanks for letting me know.”
It’s a loving dance when we adjust ourselves to hear or see what others are trying to tell us.
In conversation and relationships, there’s a dance. For every movement, there’s a response. One person may appear to be leading, but the reality is both people respond to the movements of one another.
Sometimes it turns into a dance marathon, both are exhausted and in pain, but it’s the only dance routine they know. They become so accustomed to it, they could do it in their sleep, and they often don’t know how to end it.
Think of how it looks like if only one person of a dancing couple starts moving to a new rythym. The person who didn’t initiate the change may work hard to get their partner back into the old routine, they may continue their part alone, or they may walk off the dance floor.
Regardless of what happens, the dance has already been interruped; it’s already changed if even temporarily.
Regardless of whether you initiate or resist change, it’s difficult to continue dancing alone to different rythyms. That’s true for both partners.
Change can be awkward and very uncomfortable. However, the dance will eventually change or the dance will stop.
If one person changes, the relationship will not be the same. Something will change. It might not be the change you hoped for, but it will be different.
You can’t change another person, but you can change how the relationship, the dance, looks.
When people start talking more than they normally have, especially about their hurt or their anger, it can be really different for the listener. If you are used to a spouse being easy-going, complacent, or indifferent, it’s an adjustment when they start talking! It’s a worthwile adjustment to make.
When things are unspoken, when secrets are kept, when communication is lacking, it creates distance and a lack of connection. It’s often accompanied by a lack of trust. It happens in relationships; it happens in organizations.
Donald Miller wrote this very brief but amazing blog post about the secrets we now know about Rod Blagojevich and Jerry Sandusky. It’s very true.
When we allow ourselves to be known, even when we fear the response, we are saying, “You are more important to me than my fear of what you’ll think of me.”
You want people to know they matter to you? Talk to them. Be transparent.
You want people to open up to you, to trust you? Go first. It’s hard.
Because I believe people are inherently significant, because they matter, it means I’m transparent often. In response to that, I often experience acceptance. I hope people experience the same from me.
There are other times when I am judged. It hurts, but I can learn from it. When someone wants to tell me about my faults without being willing to talk about their own, they don’t accept my depravity. They likely don’t accept their own either. You can’t give away what you don’t already possess.
I can still offer acceptance to those who hurt me. [You may need to create some distance so it doesn’t become abusive, which is never good.]
Without trying, many people are transparent and make themselves known unintentionally. We can still offer them acceptance in their depravity.