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I have a private and fabulous (and free) coaching community on Facebook (scroll down to find out how to join us!) called Women On The MOVE that I interact with every day.
On Fridays, I will sometimes declare it’s an “ASK ME ANYTHING!” day.
The women in that community ask me questions related to just about anything: counseling, coaching, fitness, business, parenthood, womanhood — all of the things that make up a life.
I love it.
One question that came up recently (and it actually comes up A LOT with anyone I’m counseling or coaching) went something like this:
“I’m trying to work through a relationship with another person in my life who continually gets in my crawl and generally makes me feel like shit every time I interact with them.
How do I make them see their damaging ways and make this stop?”
I got the double edged sword of good news and bad news for you, sister.
You can’t change them. And also …
You can’t change them.
I’m sorry. But I’m not sorry.
And the reason I’m not is because there’s something much more powerful you can do than try to change another person.
You can change yourself and how you feel in that situation by asking yourself one simple question:
“When she says those things or does what she does, what am I making that mean about me?”
And that it’s causing you pain and frustration?
“What are you making that mean?” is probably the most pivotal question I can ask a client when they’re cloaked in the heaviness of what other people think or how other people should act.
Hear this: This question DOES NOT mean you have to release or excuse bad behavior or dysfunctional interactions.
You CAN, though, speak to those behaviors and build boundaries; and you can also take care of your mind and your life when the person on the other end doesn’t get it.
I’ve had all kinds of people directly in my life or those who just watch me from afar say things about me that are really a story they’ve formed about me:
- That I think “too highly” of myself.
- That they don’t like the way I conduct myself professionally.
- They don’t like that I swear — especially when I say “fuck.”
- They aren’t so sure I’m raising my kids in the best way.
- That I seem to care too much about my body. (uh … what?!)
- They don’t like my friends and the company I keep.
I could go on.
It’s fascinating, right?
Can you read that stuff and see how much energy people who don’t live in my body and my mind expend on what they think about how I’m living in my body and my mind?
And you know what?
Of course I want them to stop saying that or thinking that stuff. I want them to stop because it’s feels ugly and invasive. I want them to stop and “please understand me.”
I feel all of those things because I’m human and I get angry and hurt, so I have to stop almost every day and ask myself:
“What am I making all of that mean about me? Do I choose to believe that? Can I release them and their beliefs about me and trust my own?”
I have a choice. It’s a tough one, sometimes, but I’ve learned to practice what I teach quite well. It’s helped me become more resilient over the years.
I won’t let the stings and barbs of another person’s actions or thoughts rule my life. I can be shake my head in annoyance and disbelief and keep on staying in my business.
Because you know what? I know what I make my life mean. I know what’s my business.
And that’s because I know that what other people think of me is none of my business.
Oprah Winfrey said that when she grappled with the burden of ugliness or criticism from others, that her mentor, Dr. Maya Angelou, often told her (and I’m paraphrasing):
“Baby, that’s got nothing to do with you. That’s a story they started writing long before you came into the picture.”
Don’t let people do that to you.
Be the one to write your story.
Be the one to create the meaning of your life.