"He made me so mad/sad/annoyed" is a lie that is destroying your relationship.
Did you know that when you are “mad at someone” it isn’t because of what they did?
I know you probably aren’t going to like hearing this, but it is actually the best news I can give you when it comes to restoring your relationship.
And its true whether you are in a marriage, a business partnership or basically any other encounter you can have with a human being.
Here is what I mean.
Let’s imagine your husband is supposed to be home at 6pm so that you can go out for dinner with a friends. At 5:45 he texts you, still at work and says he is going to be a few minutes late. At 6:25 he walks in the door and there you are ready to go at the door, red hot with rage. You walk past him without a word and race out to meet your friends but you are now in a bad mood and spend the first hour of your “fun dinner out” complaining to your friends about him.
Now, I know that some of you reading this are thinking;
“Well, YEAH I would be mad and I have every right to be!”
It’s true you have every right to feel anything you want. But when I coach clients a question I often ask them is “Why would you choose to feel that way?”
We learned this lie that other people can make us feel things by their words and actions from a young age. If a child on the playground laughs at you and then you have a negative emotion you were likely taught that their laughter “made you feel bad”.
This line of thinking is a big part of our culture and a very hard concept to challenge, but I want to do it because this is the key to making every single relationship in your life better.
What if instead of being taught that another person can “make you feel bad” by laughing, you were taught as a child that their laughter is totally neutral and isn't meaningful until you tell yourself a story about it. It is the story or meaning you are making about their laughter that sparks a feeling within you.
In other words, it isn’t the laughter but what you think about it.
This may seem like simplistic, but it is actually an empowering step to place the responsibility for your feelings not on anything someone else said or did, but what you choose to think about it.
If you had to get somewhere in a car with someone who had a terrible driving record and had their license taken away, you would never let them be the one to drive the car. You would opt to do it yourself because you can trust yourself to drive it as safely as possible.
But we routinely hand the keys to our emotional lives to people who are unqualified to steer us where we want to go and then blame them when they don’t do what we want.
I wrote a workbook to help you give yourself an extra step between “he said this, which made me feel that” because frankly if you want to truly stop arguing, and feel happier and more empowered in your relationship you need it.