The other day I was reminded on a song that my kids used to sing at a little Church group we used go to when they were toddlers, in a nutshell it was about a wise man who built his house upon the rock whereas a foolish man built his house upon the sand, which when the floods came of course his house was washed away whereas the one built on the rocks stood firm.
I’ve been talking a lot this week to clients and people in my community about how we interpret other people’s actions and how they invoke feelings and thinking in us; from managers who reply without patience to partners who reply using two words in a text, friends who say one thing but clearly mean another, to colleagues who become quiet and withdrawn and/or who are no longer available. We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to work out ‘where we stand’ with our fellow man and what it all means, which often creates a whole host of feeling from frustration to worry, from anger to disillusionment, upset to confusion; leaving us not knowing which way is up, let alone knowing where we stand! Unfortunately, often it is when we are in this state that we attempt to make important decisions about those relationships, we try to ‘sort’ them out, or ‘talk’ them through, often resulting in matters becoming much, much worse.
Which to me felt a lot like building your house upon the sand…
So how do we approach relationships where the other person is making us feel upset, frustrated, angry or any other negative emotion so that we have more chance of resolving it in a positive way, like building a house upon a rock?
First of all take yourself on a fact finding mission. What is it that you know to be true? Often we think that a text sent in a certain way, or a lack of response, or a certain response means something when in fact that is only our perception of it. We interpret behaviour based on our past experience or of the experience of others and we then try to fill in the gaps with what we think is true. In other words, we tell ourselves a story. A beautifully crafted, believable story, but a story nonetheless. When we don’t know something for certain, i.e it’s open for interpretation, it’s our thinking that is making it up. Now often a client will argue that they do know ‘for sure’ it means whatever, but of course we can never be sure what someone’s intention is behind their behaviour unless they tell us (and then can we really be sure) we can only suspect.
Which then leads me onto the second step towards creating a firmer foundation, if we can’t be sure and we are only telling ourselves a story which is based on suspicion, those feelings that we are creating within ourselves, surely are being created by us, not the person with whom we are cross, frustrated, upset or the like and when we recognise that actually we don’t know for sure why that person is acting in the way they are, often those feelings subside.
Finally, when we allow these feelings and thoughts to settle, and we allow those that have no foundation to pass, we return to a state where actually we feel OK, we feel calmer, more rational and we can see the relationship in a clearer light. It’s at this time, when we are in this state, we experience ‘seeing things in a different light’, and all of those negative feelings often give way to feelings of compassion and understanding. When we approach a relationship from this space, this is like building a house upon a rock as you start to build the relationship based on reality which is probably the most solid of all the foundations I know.
If you would like more clarity in your life, Andrea Morrison is a Transformational Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist & Speaker and is author of The Feel Good Factor in 30 days you can find her at andreamorrison.co.uk to book a free consultation or join her Free Seize Your Life community on Facebook.