Podcast Episode 14 – Challenging Relationships

Jun 29, 2023 | Podcast

I’m Diana Swillinger, and this is the Renew Your Mind podcast. Episode Number 14, Challenging Relationships. 

DIANA: Hey. Hey. How y’all doing? Guess how I am. I’m great. I think I always say I’m great, right? You’re right. I wait all winter long for summer’s return. And, um, so I spent the afternoon researching and preparing for this episode in. My backyard with the birds. It was great. I love summer. I’ve been getting a lot of kind reviews on itunes, and I told you all, ah, I’d read them here. So here we go. This one’s from Nashville needs you. This episode hit home. Thank you for your honesty and the different perspective you provide. Looking forward to listening to the next episode. Thanks to Nashville needs you. I used to want to live in Nashville. I think I definitely still want to Vacation there a lot. I’ve only been there once, but thank you. Nashville needs you. I don’t know what episode that was, but I am glad that it was helpful.


Next one is from Fluffy TS. It says, being frustrated and stuck is exhausting. This podcast is really helping me figure out what’s going wrong in my thoughts so I can stop making things worse with my crazy thoughts. Glad I found this. OOH, I love that one. Thank you so much, Fluffy TS. Thanks to all you guys leaving reviews. If you haven’t done it yet, just go to itunes subscribe. Leave a review. It helps keep the renew your mind movement going. We got to get this out there for more people, right? Because we’re talking about important things. Like today, we’re talking about challenging relationships. Have you ever had one? I know you have, right? Me too. I used to handle them poorly.


So there was that time in my life that I didn’t have all these great life coaching skills and not that I’m perfect now. I make plenty of mistakes, but I used to really handle the challenging relationships poorly. I used to assert my rightness. I was probably a part of the problem. A lot of the time. I would try to control. I’d try to be right, and I might even try to punish the other. Person if I didn’t like the way. They were showing up or behaving I might punish them with a silent treatment or insulting or yelling or who knows what. Now, I’m not saying I was always terrible in relationships. I’m talking about the times when conflict would arise or specific challenges or specific people when things were easy. It was fine. But when the challenges came, I didn’t do it well because I wasn’t emotionally mature. I wasn’t regulating my thoughts, I wasn’t regulating my feelings or my behavior like I do now. 


Of course, this was a long journey for me. It took many years. But, uh, I can look back now and see. I can see the things that I. Worked on the most to make a difference. And I’ve done a lot of studying and examining the work of other thought leaders and teachers and psychologists and I. Put together my top four things to. Do so you can show up better in challenging relationships. And that’s what I want to share with you today. Let me start by giving a little context. Let’s just decide what’s a challenging relationship? So when I talk about a challenging relationship, I’m talking about one that will drive an immature person to stomp or argue or complain. And it might drive a mature person into active examination of themselves and selection of their thoughts and emotions. It takes extra work. 


Challenging relationships might inflame you or they. Might exhaust you or both. For me, a, uh, challenging relationship is usually one that has misunderstandings. There’s probably unmet expectations and disappointment, unkindness. A lack of mutual respect, things like that. A challenging relationship might have underlying tension or maybe just this general feeling that. It’s hard or it’s an unpleasant relationship. So that’s what I’m talking about when I talk about challenging relationships. If you don’t have one right now. I know you’ve had one or you’re definitely going to have one in the future. That’s just how it is. Um, with life.


We’re all trying to figure this out together. So here’s what I use to navigate challenging relationships so I can show up as a better person in the relationship and so that I can have control of me. Because that’s where my work is in a relationship. It’s working on me. Okay? So number one, goodwill and love. Goodwill and love are always available and they are always the best option. When you purposely think thoughts that remind. You that you have love for the.  Other person or thoughts that remind you that God loves the other person and you spend time there allowing that love to come up, it’s not possible to also be behaving out of anger or hate. You don’t love and hate at the same time. Go ahead, try it. I bet you can’t do it. You have to pick one. 


If you’re feeling hate or anger, how are you going to show up for. That person in a challenging relationship? What do you think? When you’re angry, you’ll probably point out every injustice or frustrating behavior. Or you might slam a door, send that nasty email, gossip or complain to other people. Listen, you are half of every relationship you are in and I’m sure you’re not making it less challenging if you’re showing up from anger. So let’s think about showing up with love. Now, love doesn’t slam doors. It doesn’t send nasty emails. Love doesn’t complain. Love will listen. Love cares about the other person. Love wants good things for the other person. Love is patient. 


Now, I have, uh it’s in Corinthians. Now I’ve got that Bible verse in. The back of my brain. Love is patient. Love is kind. You know how it goes, right? That’s so true. So you want to show up better, show up with love. Love is filled with goodwill for the other person. Can you imagine how things might change in that relationship if you showed up with love and goodwill? If you show up differently, it might affect the other person. It might affect how they show up. Sometimes just one person can change and the relationship is going to get better. Now, sometimes the other person won’t change at all. It’s not the purpose of showing up with love. You’re not trying to change the other person. Sometimes they will, but even if they don’t, you’re still going to feel better. If love is your driving emotion instead of hate or anger, that feels better. You win, and you treat the other person better. And you’re going to eliminate the escalation of drama and conflict when you are. Coming from a place of love. I love love. If you don’t ever know what emotion you want to feel, choose love. This is probably why the greatest commandment of all in the Bible is to love God, love your neighbor, and love yourself. Love wins. So love and goodwill, that’s number 1. Second, we have humility. All right, dictionary. I love the dictionary. Let’s do this. In the dictionary, humility is freedom from pride or arrogance. Humility is freedom from pride or arrogance. That means showing up with the understanding that you are not any more valuable than the other person. You’re not any more important. And it’s also not the false lowering of yourself pretending or believing that the other person is better for you. That’s not true either. It’s that you’re both important. Both people in the relationship are important and valuable and just as worthy as the other person. That’s humility. And in a world where we all get to think whatever we want, we all have independent thoughts, perspectives, and opinions, this means letting go of the need to be right. And I know some of you might be saying, I can hear it now, but he is so whatever. Fill in the blank. He’s so mean. But she called me a whatever. Uh, she called me a jerk. Uh, or Diana. 


You don’t know what this person did. I’m telling you, though, it doesn’t even matter. It doesn’t matter. You gain nothing other than more feelings of arrogance and judgment if you insist on being right. Now, I just want to give you a little slack here or a little permission to give yourself grace. Basically, it’s part of our humanness to want to be right. It feels safe to be right, and it feels risky to be wrong. So we all have a natural desire to prove ourselves right. So don’t beat yourself up if you have that. But in challenging relationships that fight to be right usually creates more contempt, more tension, and more drama. And it doesn’t work. If you think it’s working for you, go for it. But if you want to have less drama, if you want to make more space for healing and understanding, I recommend that you let go of the need to be right and you practice being humble. And this does not mean condoning mistreatment, okay? It just means you do not have to prove that you are right. 


Number three, respect others and their autonomy. All right? I hate to break it to you. But we cannot control other people. Ever. We might try. I know we do. We try to manipulate and control. But the other person always has the free will to think, feel, and behave any way they want to. So stop trying to control the other person, especially in a challenging relationship. Each of us gets to have our own experience and perspective and free will. We don’t need to try to manipulate another person. Trying to manipulate another person only causes more problems in your relationship. A lot of times in a challenging relationship, we’ll mentally create a long list of expectations of how the other person should or should not behave. And if you want to know more on that, listen to episode six about control. And episode seven is, um, about the list. You can go deeper with that for now, stop trying to control the other person in a relationship. It’s actually disrespectful. Let them be them. And when you do that, you know. 


What else you get?  You get to have more freedom. When you let go of trying to manage the other person, you offer them freedom. How nice of you. Right? But you get to feel more freedom, too. It takes all the pressure off. You get to be responsible for you, and the other person is responsible for him or herself. And that’s exactly how it should be. So just for the sake of trying to avoid some misunderstandings, two quick caveats. If you’re a boss or a manager of employees, it is appropriate for you to have a list of expectations on the job. So I’m not talking about the boss employee relationship here. I’m also not talking about parenting, because there’s expectations there, too. I mean, a lot of this you definitely can and should apply to your relationship with your kids, but sometimes there’s rules. I, um, also want to mention that this is not a vehicle to permit abusive behavior. If your challenging relationship has physical, mental, or emotional abuse, boundaries and other actions like that are very appropriate. So if you need a boundary, make one. And then lastly, for those of you who are not in an abusive relationship but you’re wondering if you need to make a boundary, here’s a quick reminder on boundaries. The other person still gets to do what they want. You don’t control them. So make a boundary if you want to, for your benefit or your protection. It is not to punish the other person, and it’s not to try to control their behavior. Okay, I’m sure I’ll do an episode and go more in depth on boundaries at some point, but that’s, uh it for that one. 


All right, finally, number four, responsibility for feelings. And I’m talking about feelings for both people in the relationship here. Let’s start with the other person. Have empathy for the other person’s feelings. You really have no idea what it’s. Like to be them. You don’t know what they’re feeling. And it’s not up to you to decide how they should feel at any given time. Let them be them. And you can give a hoot about what they’re feeling and experiencing, even if you don’t understand. You don’t have to fully understand or agree with their perspective, but you can accept it as valid and their feelings as valid, and you can have some empathy and compassion for them. Now, for you, you take responsibility for your own feelings. They are yours and yours alone. You are fully responsible for them. That means if you feel angry or if you feel offended or embarrassed or sad, all of that, all the emotions that you experience, they’re on you. They’re yours. It’s your thoughts about the situation that are impacting how you feel. You get to take ownership for your own thoughts and feelings. And don’t blame the other person in the challenging relationship for how you feel. That will get you nowhere. You take responsibility for how you feel. 


If you are feeling like crap in the relationship, you get to decide not to feel terrible. If you want to, you can stay feeling terrible, or you can decide to try to feel differently. You might want to try to feel something better. You can decide to feel something more constructive or helpful. Maybe you want to feel compassion or curiosity. Or like the first one we said today, love. You get to choose. So if you know what you want to feel, you can create a thought to think on purpose that will help you feel that. If you want to feel curious about the other person, you could think, I wonder what experiences and thoughts he’s had. That influences what he’s doing, or his choices, or his behavior, or the words he’s saying. 


Okay, if you want to try compassion, have a thought like her life isn’t easy and managing relationships isn’t easy. She’s probably doing her best. And then feel some compassion. Or if you want to feel love, think something like, god made this person on purpose and loves this person no matter what, I want to do the same. Or this person is valuable. Or I care about this person what thought can you have to feel? Love. All right, there you have it. Recap if you are trying to navigate a challenging relationship. Number one have goodwill and love for the other person. Number two be humble. Know that you’re both valuable. Number three respect the other person and their autonomy. Let them be them. And finally, number four be responsible for your own feelings. No need to blame the other person for how you feel. Take m responsibility. And that’s actually really good news. You don’t have to feel terrible if you don’t want to. You can do the work to create different feelings. I know I packed a lot in this episode, you guys. 

Those were four things. They were quick. I could easily do a podcast episode on each one of them, and I’m sure I will. But if you are actively working through a difficult relationship, uh, those four things will really help you. You might even want to listen to this podcast again. Play it back, write a couple things down, and you can’t do it all at once if you’re trying to learn a lot of new skills at once. So pick one. If you don’t know which one you want to start with, I recommend starting with love. What do you need to think around that challenging person or in the challenging relationship to feel love? Figure out what thought generates love and work on thinking that for a bit. Because when you show up with love, feeling love on purpose, it’s going to help. Even that it will help. It will bring some relief, and all of us are lovable. 


Doesn’t matter who it is that you’re in a challenging relationship with. Some people might be harder for you to find a loving thought towards. That’s why I give you the one about god made this person on purpose and loves this person no matter what. I want to do the same. Because if nothing else, you can admit that. Start there and show up with some love. All right. Every month, I have at least one free webinar. My next one is going to be Sharing, my most effective and popular coaching tool. It walks you through what you think, what you feel, what you do. So if you want to sign up for that, you need an invite. Head on over to Rympodcast.com and get on my list for weekly mind management tips. Then watch your inbox. Everyone on my list gets an invite to all my free webinars. That’s it for today. I will catch you next week. Take care. 


As an advanced certified life coach, I help Christian women trying to live their best lives, but they still feel unsatisfied and stuck. I teach thought management skills that work so you can enjoy life again and step into who God has created you to be. Don’t forget to head on over to Rympodcast.com to get my free resources or a free coaching call.

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