A lot of our relationships are by choice, meaning we can decide who we want to spend time with. We can decide who our friends are, but there are also those relationships where we don’t have a lot of choice. I mean, you didn’t pick your parents. You probably didn’t decide who your aunt was going to be, and for some of you, it might mean that you are in a relationship right now by marriage, that you feel as though you don’t have much choice, but I just want you to know that you do have a choice.
The very first thing you have to wrap your head around is whether we’re talking about a family member or someone that you’re married to, or maybe even a working relationship where you’re like there’s nothing I can do; this is my boss, I work in the cubicle next to this guy, and there’s just nothing I can do. That might be true, but you still have choice. Let’s talk about making the types of choices that help to boost your confidence, because as a member of this club, you’ve already committed to the idea that this is on you; no one else. This is yours to make the right decision. This is yours to decide this isn’t working, so I’m going to try another approach, and it’s yours to change your perspective.
I want to start first with family members, because in my twenty plus years of working with individuals to improve their confidence and help them to live a better and fuller life, without exception, when people talk to me about feeling less confident, it almost always stems back to something early in their childhood, whether we realize it or not. So many of our insecurities and our negative beliefs about ourselves stem from an early relationship with a family member.
Now what do we do with that information now that we’re adults and in some cases, we’re still dealing with that particular family member? The most important thing that you can remember is that you do have choice. When someone says to me, “Chalene, what do I do? I don’t have any choice in the matter. I have to see my mother every day,” or “I have pick up my father and take him to and from his doctor’s appointments,” and “I care for my parents.” It may feel as though you don’t have choice, but you must understand you do have choice. You might have to make a difficult choice. You might be making the choice that benefits others, but there’s still choice involved. You have free will. You have the ability to change the situation. I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy. I’m not saying that it’s going to come without heartache, but you have to understand you do have a choice.
What you want to start with is by creating boundaries, so that you understand if I’m not going to cut this person completely out of my life, I at least have to have some healthy boundaries, and I’m a big girl, I’m a big boy, and I need to set up these boundaries because I can no longer live my life allowing somebody to diminish my confidence. I meet people who are doctors and lawyers and experts and millionaires, and they still have these eroding thoughts in the back of their head that stem from something a parent said or an adult said to them as a child; a belief that they formed. Whether correct or incorrect, it’s just a belief that they formed from a family member.
For this exercise, what I want you to do is think of … And you can just write down initials if you want … Of a few family members who diminish your confidence. Not every time, but there are times if anyone in your family is going to make you feel less than confident, it’s this person. Just write down their initials, okay? Then what I want you to do is to draw a line underneath their initials and just jot down a few examples of when that happens. Does it center around social environments? Is it something that happens when you’re on the phone with them? Is it when they start talking about maybe a sibling or your income or a past experience? You start to recognize that there is a history, a pattern that forms, because not every interaction with this person makes you feel less confident, but if you start to become more aware of when that happens, then you can take control and set up an established better boundaries.
For example, if your mother … And you talk to her twice a week, and if at a certain point in the conversation, things turn to, let’s say, your weight or your physical appearance; when it turns to that, you just get this knot in your stomach like here it comes. I’m going to get this back-handed compliment or maybe they’re actually going to put me down, and it starts to turn to that. If you know it’s right at that moment that it’s coming, then you can establish a better boundary and as soon as the conversation turns to that topic, you can have some alternatives to say, “Mom, I love you. It’s been great chatting with you today, but I’m not comfortable talking about this, so give me a call back when we can talk next week, but I really don’t want to talk about that right now, because it just brings me down. I love you to death, but I’d rather not go to a negative place right now; I want to think happy, so I’ll talk to you next week, Mom.”
Or let’s say it’s your older brother, and every time you talk to him on the phone or you see him in person, things go great until you start talking about your financial status, and then he wants to whatever; bring up something that triggers those same feelings in you that you feel less than confident. Then you just have to know when the conversation turns to that particular topic, how you’re going to handle it: “I love you bro, but when we talk about that, I don’t know; I’m just not that comfortable. I’d rather talk about your kids and what’s going on with your hobbies and what’s going on with your work, but I’m just not comfortable when we talk about that; doesn’t make me feel good, so let’s pick other topics.”
You do that a couple of times and you’ve established new boundaries. Now you don’t write this person off, unless you need to. I don’t know your situation, but you have to understand there’s choice to be made, and you have to decide is this person worth it? I mean, we all have those people in our lives that you just have to take the good with the bad, but you don’t have to take as much bad as you’re taking, and you can set up boundaries so that you can really enjoy the good, unless there is no good that comes from it, in which case, it’s not your responsibility to save this person, because you won’t be able to, ever. It’s not your job; you can’t save another human being and to think that you can is only going to make you feel defeated, as if you’ve failed, so you have to establish boundaries that protect you and yourself and your confidence and your happiness, and if for no other reason, know that it’s important because of the people who YOU’RE helping.
Your new family, your friends, your future, the people who you work with, the people that you care about; if you’re allowing somebody else to make you feel like crap, then you are hurting your other relationships, and that’s a choice you’re making, because you’re allowing it to happen. You’re giving them the space, you’re giving them your energy, you’re giving them the opportunity, and so often, this happens with adult children. I’ve found in my many years of working with really confident, well-established, successful people, that they just keep giving this parent an opportunity to get it right and they just keep setting themselves up and setting themselves up, like maybe this time they’re going to get it right, and they’re not going to, because they don’t have those tools, you know? It’s not personal. It’s not about you; they just don’t have those tools. Maybe they were doing the best that they could when they didn’t do things well; it was the best that they could do. They just didn’t have the resources, which should inspire you to do more.
It should inspire you to change that, to improve that, to stop that cycle, because you do have the tools, and you do have the resources and you do know how much better you feel when you surround yourself with confident, happy people and how that trickles down. When you’re courageous and you’re confident, you serve so many other people. You’re hurting people. I hate to say that, but it’s the truth. I mean, there’s people who are really counting on you and who care very much about you and who need you to lead them and need you to serve, and you just can’t do that if you’re so damaged by something someone else has said, and that you continually allow them into your life and you give them the space and you give them the opportunity to make you feel this way. It doesn’t mean you have to cut them out forever. You might have to; I don’t know, but I think your first step is to figure out how to establish some pretty serious boundaries, and it’s not comfortable, I can tell you. I’ve been through it myself. It’s not comfortable at first, but it keeps getting better.
In the Midwest, we have these big giant yards. I grew up in the Midwest and nobody has fences. Here in California, everyone has a fence and a little gate, and they drive up and they drive into their garages and they hide away and they never come outside again, but in the Midwest, we have these big giant sprawling yards, and nobody had fences. They either would have … I grew up out in farm country and we had barb wire; little, teeny-tiny strip of wire that if you walked into it, you’d get a little volt of electricity. The animals very quickly would learn not to go anywhere near the boundaries, but they would walk up to them several times and get that little jolt. It didn’t hurt them, but it was enough to sting; go okay, I’m not going to do that again. Then eventually, they developed this thing called invisible fencing, where the dogs, even if the fence was turned off, they still didn’t go that far because they knew that that was an unsafe boundary: These are our boundaries.
So it is a little uncomfortable the first couple of times you say, “Hey, all right, Mom, it’s been great chatting with you.” “Hey, sis, I love you. It’s been great chatting with you. You know, I’m not comfortable talking about this, so I’ll call you next week. I got to go, love you so much,” and just change the subject, but you can’t just change the subject and hang up. You have to let them know: “I’m not really comfortable talking about this right now,” or “Well, that was hurtful. I was wondering why you would say that, but instead I just want to tell you I love you and I’m going to have an amazing day, and I’ll talk to you next week.” You do that enough times and it is uncomfortable, but it stops. It goes away. They start to understand where the boundaries are, so today’s lesson is to write down a few names and write down a few … You know, documentation, just a few notes so you can see where that history continues so you are able to identify and really be self-aware of when those relationships go that way.
Now, last thing I’m going to say before we wrap this up, is that if this is your spouse, your significant other; first of all, if it’s not your spouse, this isn’t going to get better with a marriage certificate. How’s that for serious? It’s not, and it doesn’t get better with a baby. It gets better with therapy maybe, and it gets better with making choices and deciding if the two of you care enough to make a change, but guess where the change has to start? It has to start with you.
If you are married and you are one of those people … Because I see them all the time, and they go on social media and they’re like, “My husband’s not supportive and he’s duh-duh-duh,” and “I’m doing everything all myself,” and “My wife is not supportive,” and “My wife never …”, and they just complain and complain and complain in social media: A, don’t do that. It’s just wrong. That doesn’t belong out there. I mean, to speak to just complete strangers about the person you love the most is really a betrayal, and I’m sorry if that’s straight talk, but I just think that’s wrong. Talk to a therapist about that. Talk to somebody who can help you, but strangers in social media, that’s not the right place to go.
Respect the covenant of your marriage and go speak to your pastor, your priest, a therapist. Get someone who can really help you, as opposed to just speaking negatively about a situation. Then guess what you’ve created? You’ve created your reality. When you tell the world, “I’m disconnected from my spouse, and he works a hundred hours per week,” and “I don’t get any support,” and “I have to do everything myself and he really doesn’t care”; guess what you’ve just created? Da-dah! Your reality! Congratulations! It’s the truth.
Now if you started saying to everyone, “I love my husband,” “I love my wife. I think she’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen. I think she’s brilliant. I think she’s smart and I love spending time with her,” and you just keep saying that, you eventually create your reality. You start by doing that; start by saying what it is you want. Start believing it. Just start saying it and eventually you’ll start believing it, and then here’s the next thing you have to do: You got to change you, so stop pointing fingers and saying I can’t get him or her to change, and work on you first. Maybe it’s not him or her that’s the whole problem. Maybe you need to be more lovable and to be someone who leads with love. Maybe you’re becoming too needy, maybe there’s a reason why these things are happening, but there’s nothing we can do except work on ourselves.
We can’t change another person, right? We can only be better, and in that process, we often inspire others to be better. What type of a cycle have you created in your home? Have you sent a text message today? A sexy text message to your husband or your wife and told them how much you love them and how sexy you think they are, and how much you adore them, and what specifically you adore about them, because if you just start doing those things over and over and over, like all the time treating this person like you were dating again, it’s pretty interesting how your perspective will change. They’re going out of their way to do amazing things and if you’re sitting there right now going, “I’m doing all that. I have tried all of that,” maybe you have; I don’t know. That’s a possibility.
I just want you to know you have choice. I want you to know that you can establish boundaries, and I want you to know that you create your reality, so if you want an amazing life, you have to start deciding you have an amazing life. If you want to attract amazing people into your world, into your life, into your circle of influence, you have to start being an amazing person, so that means a change, it starts with you. This is probably one of the tougher lessons we have to learn, because these are relationships where we don’t have a lot of choice; not choice in terms of how this person has been brought into our life, but now you have choice in how you can improve it and establish boundaries.
This episode was sponsored by The Hangry Chef! My amazing hubby Bret is releasing his eBook Cookbook in February, but the demand was so great he decided to release his 5 top snacks early! Just click below to get the FREE download! These are staples in our household!
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