A big part of my work is teaching my clients how to manage their minds.
Full disclosure: I am and always will be in the process of learning to manage my own mind!
I deeply believe this crucial life skill is the key to our freedom – and our happiness.
The biggest obstacle any of us will ever have to overcome to create
what we want in our lives – is ourselves.
Every result we create starts as a thought in our minds.
What we choose to think and believe gets reflected in our results.
This is because:
- Our thoughts create our emotions ->
- Our emotions drive our behaviours, including our actions, inactions and reactions ->
- Our behaviours create our results
This is how our brains work.
This is how the world works.
What most of us don’t truly understand is that our thoughts and beliefs are choices.
Very often we believe our thoughts are facts – and we don’t even question them.
The truth is, we have a choice in how we think about and perceive the circumstances in our lives, including our husbands’ behaviours.
It is not a ‘fact’ he is a selfish fill-in-the-blank! (I know, I know, it feels like a fact!)
It is a thought.
Everything our husband says, or doesn’t say, does, or doesn’t do, is a neutral circumstance.
It’s all neutral until we apply our thinking to it.
And in so doing, attribute meaning to it.
Based on the ‘story’ we make up in our minds, we may interpret his behaviour as positive or negative, or even neutral.
Our ‘stories,’ that is, our thoughts, make us feel a certain way.
They evoke emotion.
That emotion then drives our reactions and creates a result.
If it’s a result we want, great.
But very often, we create unwanted results in our relationships – over and over again.
Results like disconnection in our marriage.
And we wonder why it keeps on happening.
We create results that aren’t helpful and that don’t serve us in any way.
Many of the women I work with in Empowered Choices, Empowered Woman Programme come harbouring bucket loads of resentment towards their husbands.
Common themes include:
- Injustice at the division of labour in the home, with my clients’ doing the lion’s share of the work, while also juggling careers, kids, ageing parents, etc. etc.
- Not being treated with the respect she believes she deserves
- Their husbands’ past poor behaviour that he expects them to ‘just get over’ and move on from
- His inability to connect emotionally
- Their husbands’ expectation that she be the referee and peacemaker in his relationship with their kids
I know how they feel.
In my marriage, the only emotion I felt more frequently than resentment was frustration!
We feel extremely justified in holding on to our resentment.
And we’re not willing to give it up lightly – no way!
If we did, surely that would mean letting him off the hook – and why would we want to do that exactly?!
But there’s something we rarely consider.
The Cost of our Resentment
WE are the ones carrying and feeling the resentment.
Not our husbands.
WE are the ones experiencing all of that negative emotion, and its impact, in our bodies. And our lives.
WE are the ones reacting from that emotion.
And of course our reactions affect our relationship with our husbands, not in a good way.
And here’s the other important thing to know.
WE are the ones causing our emotional pain.
WE are the ones creating all of this negative emotion in our bodies.
How so, when he’s the one behaving like a complete arsehole?!
Because it’s our thoughts that cause our feelings, not our husband’s behaviour.
It’s not what he said or did that was the problem, it was the meaning we attributed to what he said or did.
Typical meanings we often choose include:
- He doesn’t care about me and our family
- He’s so selfish
- He doesn’t love me enough
- He doesn’t respect me
- He can’t be bothered to make an effort
Why Letting Go Equals Freedom
The fact our husband isn’t the cause of our emotional pain may feel like bad news.
Yet another bloody thing we have to take responsibility for!
While it’s true that the buck does stop with us, it’s actually very good news.
Because if we are the creator of our emotions, we are also the ones who can change them.
And the best news – we don’t have to wait for our husbands to change to do it!
We can decide, deliberately, how we want to think and feel about his behaviour – and in doing so, take our power back.
But again, doesn’t that mean letting him off the hook if we decide to no longer feel pissed off about what he did?!
Doesn’t it mean he can just do as he likes and we have to get over it and be happy about it?!
It doesn’t mean any of those things.
Taking responsibility for how you feel about somebody else’s behaviour, and responding from that place, is not passive.
You can still make requests.
You can still request that he change or stop the behaviour.
You can still let him know you don’t approve of or condone the behaviour.
You can still set firm boundaries if it’s behaviour you’re not willing to tolerate.
The difference is, you do these things from a ‘clean thinking’ place.
You do not react from negative emotion.
You accept that your husband is an adult who doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do.
As are you.
You accept that requests are just that – requests, not demands.
And you take responsibility for how you choose to feel if your husband doesn’t agree to or honour your requests.
Communicating and responding from this place is the opposite of passive.
It’s where all of your power lays.
But the very best reason for letting go of your resentment is so that YOU can feel better.
You always have a choice.
You can hold on to your resentment, if you want to.
Or you can choose to let it go.
You can choose to let it go for YOU. Not your husband.
It’s not about him.
This is about you.
This is about taking back the keys to your peace of mind and your happiness.
It’s all in your hands.
Do it. For your own sake.
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