I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about a relationship she’s in. Our conversation had a lot of, “I wonder if he…why doesn’t he…if only he…” pondering really about what was going on in the other person’s mind and wishing that their behavior and thinking was what we thought it “should” be. Wouldn’t that make things a lot easier? If, in any relationship, the other person behaved according to plan, our plan? The way we think they should respond? Of course it would.
But that’s not how it works. After musing about this for a few minutes, she shared with me a piece of wisdom she’d recently received on the topic. Don’t write his side of the story. Just let that sink in for a minute.
How often do we do that in relationships? Whether it be romantic, friends, co-workers, we often expect others to behave, to respond, in the way we would respond. We play the scene out in our head and when it doesn’t play out like we expect, we’re disappointed. And then the fun really starts. We start assigning meaning to how they’re “not” responding. Unloving, uncaring, disconnected, disrespectful, uninterested. Our imagination takes a death spiral. And now, possibility with another person becomes futile in our minds.
What if we chose a different approach? What if instead of getting a Pulitzer for telling their side of the story, we chose instead to just be in the moment? To only think about our side of the story? To not assign definitions to what we think is going on, what we think the other person is thinking. What would that look like?
Could look like freedom. Freedom from the negative feelings and thoughts that come from trying to predict what’s going on for the other person. Could look like taking responsibility for our own true thoughts and behaviors, ones that are not dictated by how we should respond to someone who is…fill in the blank… Because in reality, they’re probably doing nothing of the sort. If we decide that it’s ok to let go and not let our inner ego drive, you know, the one that says “you don’t deserve to be treated like that!” Treated like what??? The other person hasn’t done anything. You’re reacting to the story that you wrote.
So today my challenge is to stay focused on you. Let the other person write their side of the story. Chances are, it’ll have a much better ending than anything you could have dreamed.