Podcast Episode 59 – Preferences

Jul 1, 2023 | Podcast

I’m Diana Swillinger, and you’re listening to the Renew Your Mind podcast. Episode 59 Preferences. 

DIANA: Hey, what’s up everybody? Welcome to another episode of the renew your Mind podcast. I am coming off a great weekend I had with my friend Sarah in the Rocky Mountains. It was the best, as it always is. We were driving through a valley with mountain peaks all around us and this is what I sounded like, you guys. I’m like, what? Whoa, look at that. And then we’d go around another corner and I’m like, what the uh holy cow. Y’all. I just have to say, if you are ever wondering if God is really all powerful, if he’s really majestic, if he’s really so totally awesome and impossible to fully understand, all you have to do is just go drive through his incredible, majestic creation and you will wonder no more. I mean, I was in awe. Huge mountains covered with snow rising out of the earth. I mean, I’ve seen it before, but we went to some new places, a new pass, and I was just floored. I mean, our God is all powerful and amazing and the mountains take any doubt away. I go out there a couple of times a year to take a break from life, which I recommend for everybody. So I should just ask before I get into the topic, are you getting away? Do you have a friend that you go hang out with or retreat with? Do you go to a hotel for a night all by yourself? If you don’t, I’m telling you, you should do it. I mean, no, not should. I do kind of think you should do it, but let’s take the word should out. I try not to use that. You could do it. You really could do it. I wonder what it would be like if you did it. And I think it would do wonders to give your brain a break. It really helps me give my brain a break. Our brains need a break. They get tired. 


So for me, I go to Colorado and I’ve had a lot of good memories out there. I remember, um, going out, I was there in the summer of 2018, and I was driving through a different pass with Sarah, and I told her, I’m going into business for myself and it’s going to be amazing. And she said with full force, I believe you. Another time over the past in the car with Sarah. And I said, I’m going to start a podcast. And she’s like, it’s going to be awesome. And we were driving around, I think of it like the rim, because here we were, there was like a valley down below. I don’t know what the technical term is, you guys, but for me it was a rim. I mean, there’s a cliff and a valley down below that you could look on, but we’re driving down the cliffside. It’s like a rim around the valley. And, uh, I was talking about the podcast and we were talking about possibly naming it. I mean, I was naming it, but she was there with me. We were talking about naming it renew your mind. And she pointed out the acronym is R-Y-M-M you all that spells rim. It was meant to be. So I think some of my best declarations have come from driving the mountains with Sarah. Because here we are over a year into the Rym podcast and I am just getting started. 


Speaking of getting started, let’s dive into today’s topic. Okay? Preferences. This has been coming up a lot lately when I’ve been coaching people. And you know, I love to bring up the stuff that comes up in coaching because if I’m coaching dozen of women and it’s coming up for them, for most of them, or, uh, all of them, I know it’s relevant to what you all are going through too. So preferences comes up usually when we’re talking about navigating boundaries or working on accepting what is and what seems to be happening is like letting go of our preferences all too often, which I think is kind of like an abandonment of our preferences is linked to an abandonment of self. So if we ignore or minimize or excuse our preferences, we’re ignoring and minimizing and excusing ourselves. Instead of paying attention to them, we’re trying to minimize them in order to make our relationships work. And oftentimes trying to make a marriage work. I did it too. And as Christians, we hear things like die to self or be humble or think of others, which are all things I agree with, but we use them sometimes to excuse or ignore ourselves. And I don’t think that’s what any of those things mean. To die to self is not about abandoning ourselves. 


It’s about abandoning our need to be the master of our lives before God is the master of our lives. It’s about our desire to steer the ship because we’re nervous or worried or afraid and not trusting God. It’s not about abandoning who we are. God wants us to step into who we are and shine in who we are. And when done correctly, dying to self is really about stepping more fully into who God created us to be because we trust Him to lead our lives and he helps to bring that about. And being humble I’ve talked about this before. This is not about thinking others are better than us or we’re better than them. It’s finding value in ourselves and finding value in others. Like a ah just like me kind of mindset. Like I’m a human, you’re a human. I’m a human who struggles and you’re a human who struggles. You’re just as important as me and I am just as important as you. And God is in charge, not me. That’s humility. Not denying self, more of a celebration of self and others and thinking of others. Yes, of course let’s think of others. But not to the denial of self, not to abandonment of self. In a way it’s like humility. I think of me and you.


I don’t think of me and my needs more than yours or less than yours. They’re all important. They’re just as important. It’s like love your neighbor as yourself. If you can love yourself well, you will love your neighbor well. Put your own oxygen mask on first and you’ll be better able to assist and help the other people around you take care of you and it’s easier for you to take care of others. So if you’ve been denying your preferences because of any of these reasons, great news, you don’t need to do that anymore. I want you to know that you have permission to like some things and dislike some other things. You have permission to care to be in some people’s presence and maybe not enjoy being in other people’s presence as much. 


We get to have preferences. We get to choose. We have the ability to choose. It’s our God given ability. It’s our free will. Okay, here’s some examples of how this works. Some people prefer rocky road ice cream. I prefer vanilla. Some people prefer to travel to the mountains. Others prefer to visit the city. Some people prefer to drive a sports car but I prefer an SUV. Now those are the easy ones. You’re probably pretty good at admitting those and living those out already. They’re easy because they’re about things, not people. How about these though? Some people prefer to use curse words, but I prefer not to listen to curse words. Some people prefer to drink alcohol. Others prefer not to be around those who drink. Some people prefer to work on personal development. Some people don’t prefer to do that. Some people worry about regulating their emotions and some people prefer not to be around those who don’t regulate their emotions. I could go on and these are examples from some recent coaching calls. But this is where it gets harder to navigate because it’s about other people in our lives, it’s about their behavior and it’s about relationships. This is why this comes up when I’m helping people with boundaries and accepting what is. So let’s take a look at boundaries first and a quick refresher. The way I look at boundaries is I mean a boundary is a line, right? If you think of a lot line or a boundary, your pets don’t cross the lot line or the boundary or the neighbors don’t cross the boundary unless you invite them over, right? A boundary is a line you draw in your life. And in the sense that we use the word boundaries, we draw it for self protection. It’s what you do to protect yourself. When someone crosses that line that’s enacting a boundary. It’s not done to try to control or manage the other person’s behavior. It’s done for you to protect or benefit yourself. 


If you want the full teaching I do on boundaries, be sure to check out Episode 36, which is a recording of a, uh, webinar I did on boundaries for today. Some boundaries are based on morals and values, and some are based on preferences. I said I go to Colorado. You know what’s legal in Colorado? Smoking marijuana. So I guess we could argue that it’s not a moral issue to smoke marijuana there. Maybe it’s a value for me, but I don’t know if I even need to define it as a value or not. It can be a preference for me. I prefer not to be around people who are using marijuana. So maybe my boundary is if someone around me is using marijuana, I leave the area. And actually, if you think about it, even if it is a value or moral, values and morals are actually our preferences as well. But sometimes if a preference doesn’t seem to fall into that higher held category of, like a value or a moral, maybe we or we don’t want to do that because we don’t want to seem arrogant or self righteous or whatever, it can be easier to dismiss it or deny it. And also if we think having that preference is going to offend or hurt someone, then we might deny it too. Like, what if I’m hanging out at a family gathering and someone is telling vulgar jokes or stories? If I leave the party, if I get up and leave, am I going to offend or hurt the family or the host or the person who was telling a vulgar story? And maybe, honestly, maybe not. Maybe I will offend or hurt them, but maybe they will feel hurt or offended. 


Because we need to go back to the basics here and remember that if somebody else is feeling something, it would be because of what they’re thinking in their own heads. They’re in charge of their own thoughts, and their thoughts are going to generate their emotions. So it’s not actually in my control if they get offended or hurt. Sometimes we stay around things, though. We stay around things or activities or behavior that we don’t prefer because we’re under the false assumption that somehow we are actually in control of their emotions. We don’t actually have control of that, though. We have zero control over their thoughts. Now, maybe we can influence them, and I recommend we do try to influence people in a positive way. I like that. I mean, we still can’t control them, but say you have a preference. You don’t want to be around vulgar jokes, and you do care about their feelings. You can do what you can. You could say something like, hey y’all, um, these stories aren’t quite my style, so don’t mind me. I’m going to head out. But I love you all so grateful for the time we had while we hung out. I care about you. Enjoy your day. See you soon. Bye. And your sincerity and your honesty, it really could influence them. It might.

Maybe they won’t feel offended. Maybe their thoughts will be different, but maybe not. They might still be offended. You do have control over what you offer them, but you don’t have control over their emotions. You never did. Now, knowing that, what do you want to do? Are you the kind of person that hangs out around vulgar conversation when you don’t really want to be there just because you’re trying to manage other people’s emotions? Or are you the kind of person that graciously exits the gathering when the conversation doesn’t align with your preferences? Who do you want to be? You get to decide. So I know some of the examples I’m sharing today. I just want a quick reminder, everyone. I coach everything’s confidential. I’m not telling anyone’s personal story here today, though some of these things are very common, so you might think I’m telling yours. 


But this is kind of a conglomeration from several people I’ve coached over the past year. And I mean, honestly, some parts of my story may be in here as well, but I have coached some wives that are trying to prefer to be around their husband. Like I want to be okay with being around my husband is kind of how they might put it when he yells or when he swears, or even if he uses pornography or if he drinks. I coach people on this a lot. And I’m telling you, it’s happening in Christian families, church going families. And if this is happening in your life, please hear me when I say you are not alone. In fact, recently I’ve been doing my own thought work on coming to terms with how common this is. This is the reality of broken people. You all, and some women I’ve talked to are wrestling with having their preferences or admitting their preferences, or not trying to convince themselves or coach themselves out of their preferences and trying to understand how to accept what is. So I want to tell you you can prefer to not be around someone that is engaging in behavior that makes you uncomfortable or that is not in line with your morals or values, or that you do not prefer. You have free will, you have your own brain, you have your own conscience. You get to decide. 


There are some things you enjoy, some things that are neutral, some things you do not enjoy. Uh, so I want to tell you as well. Learning to accept what is is. Not abandoning your preferences. Accepting what is, is understanding that the other people in your life have free will and it’s not your job or your responsibility to change them. If you come home and your husband’s been drinking, okay, that is reality. Accept it. It is. You cannot change it. And when you don’t resist it, that that’s what’s happening. When you don’t resent it like it shouldn’t be happening, then you won’t be frustrated. You m can be calm and you can have a clear head, which, by the way, is the best place to decide how you want to proceed. Maybe you have a boundary in place, or maybe you just decide in that moment. I get to choose not to be around what I don’t prefer. I have free will. I am me. I’m in charge of me. Okay? If your husband is using curse words or yelling at the kids, it’s totally okay not to prefer this. It really is. But you can accept that that’s what’s happening. That’s reality. I’m not going to fight with reality. I’m not going to say this shouldn’t be happening because it is. It just is happening. When you accept reality, when you understand you are not in control, the other person’s behavior, you can’t change it. You don’t have to resist it. You won’t resent it and you won’t be frustrated. You’ll be calm, you’ll have a clear head and you can decide what you want to do next. 


You are not the victim and the other person is not the enemy. They are a person that is in pain and trying to do the best they can and not always getting it right. And you are a person that is doing the best you can and not always getting it right. You don’t have to hate or villainize anyone and you can know what you prefer and decide what you want for you. I like to walk through it this way. With clients, I ask questions, so I’m going to ask them of you. Now. You can answer them out loud if you feel like it. You can answer them in your head, but this is a way to start getting in touch with your preferences. I mean, I could ask a lot of questions, but this just gets it going. Ready? What’s your favorite color? What do you like better? Pizza, sushi or tacos? If you could go on vacation today, would you pick city, beach or mountains? What is your favorite TV show right now? If you are at a baseball game and the people behind you are drunk, will you stay in your seats and deal with it? Or do you want to find some other empty seats and switch seats so you’re not right by them? If someone you didn’t know yelled swear words at you, would you stay or would you walk away? Do you want to do the same thing with the people you know well if they do that too. Do you want to stay or walk away? You can ask these questions of yourself. I have lots of questions I can ask you to help you figure out your preferences if you want. 


Ask yourself questions, notice things you prefer, what you like, what you don’t like, what you enjoy, what you don’t enjoy. This is you. Your preferences are valid. And this is the message of today’s podcast. This is how I learned to find peace in my own home with five other people, regardless of what was happening around me. I got to choose my preferences and then I get to make calm decisions around what I prefer. Can be kind of fun and empowering. I uh, think you should totally give it a try. You got to figure out what you prefer though. Figure that out first and then accept what is. We can’t change people. And then you get to choose how you want to proceed based on your preferences and what you want for you. 


Now before we go, I want to talk about the lighter side of preferences really quick. My friend Dr. Rick Marks has been on the podcast before. He talks about relationships as the US, especially in marriage, the US. But anytime there’s two people in a relationship, there’s uh, an us in the relationship. And we do care about the other person’s desires too, do we not? So he always says he uses this example for him and his wife. He says US goes to the mall. He says US likes going to the mall but Rick doesn’t like going to the mall. Basically his wife likes going to the mall but he does not prefer it. But he does go to the mall with his wife for the US in the relationship.


So everything I’ve said today, I’ve been focusing on not losing your preferences in the name of trying to control a relationship out of fear or whatever else. But there are many things that we don’t prefer that we’re going to choose to participate in that don’t compromise our values or our morals. And we do it because we care about the other person and the relationship. I think it’s a great way to practice love and compassion and humility. The other person’s preferences matter too. One person in the relationship might love to go camping, but the other person doesn’t. But you both go camping because one person prefers it. Maybe another relationship. One person prefers to tailgate before the game, but the other person’s fine with hot dogs from the vendors, but you decide to tailgate together. 


These are things that don’t compromise our values or our morals and we like to participate in other people’s preferences for relationship building and to show love and care. Okay, but when another person’s behavior is not in line with your values and morals and who you want to be as a person, you don’t need to deny who you are or what you care about. Okay. I know that this might be a big issue for some of the people listening. I know some of the examples I gave are very real for some of you and hard to navigate. I want you to know I’m here for you if you need some help. I coach everyone one time for free. So if you want to take me up on that, head on over to Rympodcast.com and set up your free mind shift coaching call today. I’m telling you, you will feel better after just one free coaching call. I just had someone last week say what you say is true. I feel better in one call. It really works, so come give it a try. Rympodcast.com all right, y’all, that’s it for today. I will catch you next week, so take care of you. 


As an advanced certified life coach, I help Christian women trying to live their best lives, but they still feel unsatisfied and stuck. Uh, 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 um.com, to get my free resources or a free coaching call.

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