I was having a Facebook Messenger conversation with my future brother-in-law this weekend. Let me say right off the bat that I call him a challenge to my walk – that is just my perspective right now. He definitely gives opportunity for me to test the things I say I believe and live by. I have not spent a lot of time with him and I just don’t know him that well, so this is the place we are now in our budding relationship. He kids a lot, really, a lot! So much that I don’t know when he’s kidding or serious. Actually, because of what and how he says it, my greatest hope is that he’s always kidding.
Family is super important to me, so it’s super important to me to have the best relationship with him that I can. This morning in particular he messaged me after I made a cheering-on comment on my sister’s picture, about her. It was a basically just a statement, so, to acknowledged by replying and saying, “That’s great.” This quickly (and amazingly, to me) escalated into an exchange about joining his business and him feeling hurt that I said no. As I was preparing for church and he was not directly answering my questions, I felt it best to put the kibosh on that conversation.
As I went on with getting dressed and having breakfast, the story started it’s rehearsal in my head. I usually jump straight to fix-it mode, so I was trying to figure out the exchange and so I could get to the fix-it part. In my head, it went something like this (the abbreviated version):
“Why couldn’t he just answer my question. His response had nothing to do with my question. It didn’t even make sense. Is he really always kidding? I sure hope he is always kidding, because if not, sigh. Does every comment have to be so…? He’s not even funny. Am I annoyed by him? I don’t let people annoy me. Ugh. I wonder if he will show my sister this exchange. He should, she’ll see it doesn’t make sense. *I imagined my sister telling him that his response doesn’t make sense and asking him why he had to be so difficult.** Okay, so I need to stop this story in my head. If I could get him to…Roanne, the only person you can get to do anything is you. Fine. I’m annoyed and need to move to a happy place. I need a tool.”
I am a sucker to tools. Tools help make the work easier, whether it’s physical or emotional.
After I first realized I was playing the exchange over and over in my head, I started looking for a tool to help me quit or change the story or at least stop the rehearsal happening in my head. I know from my self-development journey thus far that if I keep love as the focus then the outcome will be the best. So my first question became, “how can I move to a place where I feel more love toward this guy who was annoying me right now?” Since I can’t make him do anything, the next logical place to look was me. It’s amazing how it always comes back to some form of self-responsibility.
What followed was what I would call guidance from the spirit. I was led to an article that made me think of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I had read it before and I used to keep a summary sheet hung next to my desk. I moved the sheet to my nephew’s room when I relocated, but now, I realized that it was time to put one up in my current space.
If you’re not familiar with The Four Agreements, I would highly recommend you getting the book. In summary, it teaches that we are the only ones who can have any effect on our happiness and wellbeing and the agreements serve as simple directional posts to that end.
One in particular was super helpful in this situation – Don’t take anything personally. His outward expressions were coming from his choices and was not caused by me, why did I feel it my job to fix it? Because I was the one annoyed? What if I choose to not be annoyed by this and move on with my day. After all, I was giving away my joy and power by letting this take up so much space in my head. It was a stern reminder that it’s not about me. I knew this, but I needed a reminder.
So I made one. You can download all four on a single sheet and hang it close to your work space or where ever suits you. I hope you find it a useful tool for your journey through this life.