What Can Improv Teach Us About Relationships?

Healthy Home = Healthy Life

Why do I spend my time discovering relationship principles? Well that’s easy, I want the best relationships this life can offer. 

Additionally, studies show that the healthier your home life is, the healthier the rest of your life will be.  I hope you are challenged to refocus your priorities and add in time for personal and relational development.  Think about it, when it comes to your time where does it go? Do you spend it, waste it awn or invest it into your future? Of the following examples, one lives in the moment and one invests in the future?

  • Does it benefit you more to watch a TV show or read a chapter on an important subject?
  • Do you think you would be better off watching silly You Tube videos or value packed You Tube videos. (Yes, they exist)
  • Should you set up your Facebook feed to show foolishness or inspirational posts?
  • Are you better off staying home for the evening or attending a local course?
  • Spend money on a concert or a conference?
  • Listening to music while you drive or a podcast?

Every decision you make is either bringing you close or farther from your goal. Of course if you don’t identify your goal you won’t know what decisions to make to bring you closer. Is your family and personal development a priority for you?

Invest Before You Spend

I’m not saying to never entertain yourself. I can’t say that, I do these things myself. But not before I invest into my mind, heart and relationships. Sadly, many people live for entertainment while the rest of their lifers.  Entertainment should be your reward after investing.

Want some Jim Rohn wisdom? He’ll gladly add..

“Work hard at your job and you’ll make a living, work hard on yourself and you will make you a life.”

“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems or less challenges, wish for more wisdom.”

Do you want to merely make a living or do you want to make a life? How important are your relationships? How important is your peace, joy and personal fulfillment?  How much time do you spend vs how much time do you invest?  Have you been spending too much -wasting- while investing very little, if at all?

Why not do some investing right now.

Nugget, Nugget, Nugget

Relationship Rule #3 encouraged you to speak up against injustice, not to let issues go undone and to deal with concerns as they arise.  Rule #4 mentioned not to address issues when anger is flying because no one is in the right state of mind to hear the heart of the matter.

What I didn’t mention yet is …

Relationship Rule #9: Address one issue at a time, for a period of time.

When you do discuss important issues, show restraint and only cover one concern at a time. You may also want to set a limit on the conversation, don’t expect someone to endlessly discuss topics of tension. One person will be more sensitive to this than the other so respect that.

This was certainly something I found myself guilty of. I wanted to lay everything on the table all in one shot.  I mean, why not get it over with? After all it’s not every day I get long periods of undivided attention? But… what I’ve learned (ahem, I mean am learning) is that we get more accomplished when stay on topic and have focused discussion. Take practise but it’s doable.

A Lesson From Improv

Have you ever watched Improv? So funny.  Remember Whose Line Is It Anyway… any others hands up on that?

Apparently there are improv rules.  One popped into my memory as I write an it happens to work as a relationship rule. (Go figure) It goes like this. “Denial destroys or stops the addition of new information or worse negates what has already been established.”  Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for that, it came straight off of pantheatre.com.

Take a sec and re-read that. Who am I kidding who goes back to re-read? I’ll re-state. “Denial destroys or stops the addition of new information or worse negates what has already been established.”  

Relationship Rule #10 is: If they say it’s so, it is. 

Many people will squirm at this, #10 is difficult to accept (I speak from experience).

Negative Emotions Are Blind

Negative emotions are often blind, they deceive and you won’t see them as they are.  Someone may say you are treating them disrespectfully but you don’t think so. Someone thinks you are angry but you don’t feel it.

What emotions are you denying? What information are you wanting to cancel out?

  • Is someone feeling unimportant? Do they feel a cell takes higher priority than them?
  • Does someone feel insignificant when you go behind their back to make important decisions?
  • Is friendliness interpreted as being flirty?
  • Does a cold shoulder make you feel invisible?
  • Do they feel work comes before the relationship?

What are they experiencing? How do they interpret your actions, behaviour or emotions? How are you interpreting theirs?

My Experience

Should I share one of my stories?  Hope ya’ll don’t mind me gettin’ a bit personal now. (Thought I’d add some southern flare since I’ve been hanging out down south lately)

Amongst the hustle and bustle of life, especially on busier days my mind is focused on productivity.  During these times my family would ask what is bothering me.  Nothing was. I apparently sounded upset, so naturally some thought I was.  I did not like this!  I did not like how I was coming across.  Not at all.

I wanted my family to see me as a fun, happy person to be around. I didn’t want them to perceive me as upset or angry.  I didn’t feel angry or upset so it troubled me that I was coming cross this way. Learning their perspective was huge motivation for growth. I made considerable effort towards changing the tone of my voice and the expression on my face so I could appear as pleasant as I felt.

What’s interesting is, as I changed the rest of the family did as well.  Where mom goes the family follows. As I improved my disposition, the family atmosphere shifted and things were overall more pleasant.  I did not realize the influence I had in this area.  I am still changing, still growing and so is my family.  Together we are improving and we hold one another accountable in this area. It’s beautiful to watch and rewarding to experience.

Get Another Opinion

How someone experiences you is their truth and they have a right to their truth. If you care about them (which you do or you wouldn’t be in the relationship) then consider how your actions and behaviours are affecting them. Bring in another opinion if you must, like a relative or friend. Grant this person permission to tell you how it REALLY is and use this as an opportunity for personal growth.

Get two people staring at your blind spot and let them tell you where this is. 

  • Honest wounds from a friend is better than a kiss from an enemy. Proverbs 27:6
  • Correct a wise man and he will love you for it. Proverbs 9:8

What should you do if a person refuses to accept unhealthy behaviour patterns? What should you do if you try and try and still cannot agree?

Seek council.

Relationship Rule #11: When waging war, seek guidance. 

Dealign with Dirty Laundry is Necessary

Airing your dirty laundry to another individual is never comfortable. This isn’t something many people are excited to jump into but may be necessary to getting over that stubborn relationship hurdle.

Do yourself a favour and stop keeping your relationship concerns hidden. Connect with a counsellor, pastor or even just a trusted friend, family or wise advisor. Who do you know who has a strong relationship? You would be surprised how responsive they may just be if you approach them for guidance.

  • With many advisors plans will succeed. Proverbs 15:22
  • In the abundance of councillors there is victory. Proverbs 11:14
  • If you are going to war, make sure you seek guidance. Proverbs 20:18

Often we cannot see what we cannot see. We try to fix situations from our viewpoint while the other is looking from a different perspective. A councillor can bring incredibly stability to a situation while breathing wisdom into the relationship.

Is Ugly Hidden Or Revealed?

Relationship Rule #11: Make sure your beliefs and values are clearly stated.  

Many people get into a relationship for all the wrong reasons which is why so many relationships fail. Maybe are emotionally moved and overtaken by these sudden desires. This is a beautiful God-given emotion and one to enjoy on this journey but we must not throw away wisdom and counsel to make an emotionally charged decision, that would be foolish.

Most people fall in love because of how someone else makes them feel. Suddenly they experience a sense of feeling important, valued, needed, cherished, desired or attractive.  We are naturally drawn to people who make us feel good about ourselves.  In fact, you could be manipulated, lied to, fooled and still experience euphoric emotions for someone. This does not mean a relationship is healthy, or that a relationship should be built at all.

Maybe you fell in love because you became infatuated. This doesn’t always have to do with looks, it could be their personality and charm. Maybe you love how they make you feel or you love who you are when you’re around them.  This is all fine and dandy but it’s superficial, you don’t have enough information to decide whether you should spend the rest of your life with them.

What is Under the Mask?

Think about this. If two strangers went out for coffee they would both have their game face on. They would be aware of their words and actions, show manners, tell jokes and display a side of them they feel will make the other person like them. They may succeed at drawing the other person in, but this is only one side of that individual, their best side. It would be silly to create a relationship with someone predominantly for these reasons.

There are a lot of things to take into consideration when determining whether this individual is someone you want to spend the rest of you life with but nothing is more important than making sure your morals, values and beliefs jive.

If two people are vastly different in what they believe and value then they are headed for heartache. Sadly, many couples find themselves here today. They get together because they are drawn into someones personality and fall in love with how this individual makes them feel.

Truthfully, many people fall in love for selfish reasons and the deeper, more important issues of a relationship aren’t looked at or discussed. Out of all the important things a couple should be doing before marriage there is one that trumps them all. Identifying their inner values and beliefs.

Which Path Are They On?

Our inner values and beliefs drive all of our actions and decisions.  When we identify what one values, we are also identifying their boundaries. Almost all relationship difficulties arise because couples have differences in this area. 

Think about it like two paths. One path leads to one city, the other path leads to another city. If you are “doing life” with someone you are doing so with the intention of going in the same direction. If the two of you are heading in different directions then you will constantly be pulling on them to “go somewhere” they don’t want to go.

This can pose incredible difficulty in a marriage. It’s imperative for you two to get on the same page if you want relationship harmony. That doesn’t mean you share the same hobbies and do everything together, but rather your values, goals and beliefs are the same.

This or That

  • One wants to run things one way the other wants to do it another way.
  • One believes in this, the other believes in that.
  • One has television boundaries, the other has none.
  • One speaks words around the kids that the other doesn’t approve of.

These become BIG deals inside a relationship.  Let’s not forget their beliefs on managing relationship disputes.

  • One thinks yelling during conflict is normal, the other wants to learn heathy communication.
  • One wants to invest into the relationships the other has no interest in growing and improving.
  • One of them thinks the other should bend to their lifestyle, the other feels their desires,  thoughts and feelings are constantly getting denied.

These are vitally important issues to discuss.

As you look over my relationship rules consider how different you two are in handling conflict. What do you find acceptable? What do you identify as non negotiable? What lines will you place in the sand that you agree you will not cross?

Agreeing on these relationship rules will set you on a new course and as you work towards mastery in these areas it will prevent bitterness and resentment in the relationship.

Hoards of Value

I hope you see the value of investing into your future instead of spending all the time you’ve got.  Turn off the TV and turn on a podcast. Put down the phone and pic up a book. Be mindful how your actions are affecting your future and stop filling your life with mindless activities.  Don’t feel the need to read a whole book in one sitting (as some look at it).  Start with one page a day and stick with it. A little seed produces an impressive harvest, try it with your relationships.

Make a point to address the difficult issues but set limits on how long you’ll discuss these. If your actions are affecting their feelings, validate them. Do what I did and use this knowledge to motivate you towards growth. Don’t deny their experience with you, be mindful of their opinion.

If you’ve followed these relationship rules to the best of your ability and still have not seen the progress you desire it’s time to air your dirty laundry to a wise, trusted advisor. Find someone who will reveal your blind spots and speak truth into your life. Additional accountability may be what’s required to initiate and motivate change.

If you are a brave soul I’d love to hear which nugget you found most valuable. Please post in the comments below.

Accusations, Judgemental Comments, Humble Strength

Rules for Engaging in Conflict

Today we cover ground and zoom through a number of relationship rules, four to be exact.  Sadly, these rules have fallen to the wayside in todays troubled society. It’s more common to find broken rules than kept ones.  Yikes, maybe that’s why relationships are no longer standing the test of time.

Today I share a tell-tale sign of a controlling individual. I reveal qualities of solid relationships and what you may be doing that reveals your own character flaws. I will also lay out when to place limits where limits are due, and discover what successful relationships have in common that others don’t.

Stop Twiddling Your Thumbs and Get Intentional

Most people are good-willed (no seriously). Most people desire to have healthy relationships and don’t intentionally use, hurt or emotionally abuse you. At least they should’t. They may be unaware how their actions affect you, but as you give them voice it should concern them how they inflict hurt on you.

Get intentional about your most important relationships. Don’t be wishy-washy and hope for the best as you sit back and twiddle your thumbs. Learn the rules, follow the rules and safeguard your relationship.

Alternatively, these could be called Rules for Engaging in Conflict.  Because honestly, it’s in times of opposition we need to know how and when to engage.  When things go well, many think the relationship will work itself out. Once we grow up, we laugh at this ideal.

Let’s learn from those who have gone before us and see what they advise for building healthy relationships.

Character Accusations Cut to the Core

Relationships Rule #5: Don’t accuse, make judgemental comments, name call, or be condescending. 

  • Does this rule strip you of your power?
  • Are you able to get your point across without being a bully?
  • Do you want to step over the line and into emotional abuse?

I’m hoping the answer to all of the above is “no.”  Do you have conflict resolution tools in your arsenal? Can you manage conflict in a healthy way?  We are built for closeness and connection, but kindness during opposition does not come naturally.  Take a look at children fighting.

Character accusations is one of the worst things for a relationship. It’s not only says “I don’t approve of what you do,” it says, “I don’t approve of who you are.”  It is imperative to separate someones who from their do, as difficult as this may be.

It is never okay to determine what’s in someones heart. No one can definitively say they know why one does what they do. So you are adamant about your viewpoint, that doesn’t mean it’s correct.  If two people view the situation from different perspective, then both of them are right in their own way and both have the right to their opinion.

Take a look at this ball. If we stood on opposite sides and debated what colour it is, one would say black the other white and BOTH would be correct.  Different vantage points see differently, mature people understand and accept this fact.

Sometimes, the most mature thing you can do is to agree to disagree. Don’t force others to see your viewpoint and don’t try to twist their arm into agreeing with you.

You have every right to reason and try to pursued them to see otherwise, but when someone digs their heels in, let it go. Let them believe what they want and adjust yourself to fit their viewpoint, just as they will have to do the same with you.

Apologize for the Part You’ve Played

Relationships Rule #6: When you’ve done wrong, apologize for it. 

Don’t think you’re off the hook. Apologize for your part of the equation.  This is important, don’t overlook it. Apologize where you’ve been rude and for how you’ve previously approached them.

Have you said things you shouldn’t have?  Take your words back and let them know crossed a line you shouldn’t have. If you’ve treated them disrespectfully, acknowledge that your approach was wrong and that you are working towards change.  Ask for patience to be extended as you work on improving yourself.

This new approach will catch them by surprise and is evidence you’re learning, growing and trying to do better.

Humble Strength is Necessary to see Change

Blatantly confronting the ugly side of your emotions is a noble thing to do and when people witness noble acts, it challenges them to be just as decent and upright.

I am asking you to do something only mature folks do. But I know you’ll step up to the plate because this is who you really want to be. Why else would you have followed me this far? Deep is calling unto deep and this message is calling you towards change.

You cannot ignore the wrongs you’ve done? You can’t just “get over it” hoping it will go away? If you’ve hurt someone, it’s imputative you admit your wrong and seek forgiveness.

This uncomfortable stance takes humble strength but is necessary for relationship growth.

If you don’t seek forgiveness you’ll be seen as justified in your actions, indignant and unapologetic. This heaps hurt upon hurt.  If you don’t tend to a wound that you’ve caused the other person may emotionally withdraw and when a relationship goes into hiding you can no longer be open and honest with one another, stunting your growth.

Do you Attack, Condemn or Withdrawal?

Relationship Rule #7: Do not manipulate your spouse into doing what you want

Manipulation is a tell-tale sign of a controlling individual and should be banned from healthy relationships. This individual may not call you names, display overt anger but instead seep sly, hurtful remarks in hopes to change minds and get people to do as they wish.

It’s one thing to have a mature discussion about a topic, to share feelings and hope the other side sees your point of view. It’s another thing to lay on guilt trips, condemn, attack or withdraw in an effort to hurt or control them.

Have you been more concerned with your convenience than someone else freedom? Do you allow others to be their own person or must you control their every waking minute? Is this obvious to you or a foreign concept? If this is news to your ears then your relationship is likely clingy, unhealthy and suffocating.

Perhaps you will recognize some of these common phrases.

  • If you loved me you would….
  • You never do…..
  • If you do this, then I’m going to do that
  • You can’t do that or else…
  • Why can’t you be like so-and-so
  • It’s your fault that….

Free One Another

In order to be free to love one another, you must first be free. If you want them to choose to love you and spend time with you then you need to grant them the freedom not to. Do you want a robot being forced to be with you?  To appease you? Would you prefer to have wholeheartedly choose you?

If someone has to, then they are not choosing to, that’s slavery. Identify areas you have been enslaved? In which ways do you enslave others? Do you pressure others to see reality your way or do you allow them to be their own person with their own opinions? Where do you end and they begin?

Solid relationships accept and appreciate differences while granting freedom to have individual desires, dreams ambitions and goals. It’s healthy to have hobbies and a life apart from one another.  Stop trying to control one another or someone will end up resentful, rebellious, resistant, angry and bitter.

Separateness threatens only if there is instability.

Kind Words Do Wonders

Some rules seem silly to speak of, like come on, do I really need to state the obvious? Yet I find people blindly break these, justified due to how common rule breaking has become.  Perhaps thats why relationships so longer stand the test of time.

Relationship Rule #8: Don’t powerlessly criticize and complain

When you speak ill of someone it tells more about your character than it does them.  Complaining makes the statement “I am not happy and I am not willing to do anything about it.”  But truth be told, you are not helpless, there is always something you can do to influence change. Whether it creates change within them is irrelevant, you can influence change within yourself and pick up a new perspective.

Criticizing and complaining about a situation doesn’t’ solve anything. It’s not proactive and accomplishes nothing. Find a better way to vent your frustration.  Speaking ill of someone turns your heart against them, sets you up for offence and digs a deeper rut between you two. Instead spend your time figuring out the wisest course of action for the situation you face.

Be Intentional

Finding wisdom requires intentionality and living on purpose, but it’s within your power to do so.  High achievers don’t look to place blame, they grab life by the horns and tackle it with all their might. Likewise, those successful in marriage have done so with intentionality, sacrifice and effort. What makes you think you would be any different? Make a point to be intentional from here on out and find the answers to your biggest problems.  If you seek answers, you will find them, but the ball is in your court.

Mistreatment is Inevitable

Things won’t always go your way. People will upset you, mistreated will happen. It’s not a matter of if this will happen, it’s sure to happen to everyone.  When you experience this, don’t place your emotions in someone else hands and give them power to destroy you with their actions and behaviours.

Put limits where limits are due and separate yourself from unhealthy behaviour.  Be strong within yourself to whether life’s storms, love who you are, where you are heading and don’t let difficulties take you down. Mistreatment is inevitable, it’s just a matter of if we are prepared to mange it well.

A Personal Challenge

As for yourself. Stop judge hearts, don’t assume you know someones motive and don’t call names or speak condescendingly. Where have you cut with your words? How can you take initiative and apologize where you’ve missed it? Perhaps you’re guilt of making accusations and judging intentions. Find an area you can grow in and go there. Next time confrontation arises, do things differently as you keep these rules in mind.

Are you up for making some changes? Comment below and let me know.

Proof is in the Pudding: Stable, Balanced and Motivated

Something a Little Different

I want to do something a little different.  I wanted to bring you back 10-15 years and let you know where all this started. (15 years ago!!! Am I REALLY old enough to say that?)

Over these weeks, as I write out these Relationships Rules I can’t help but hear some of you wondering, “why should I listen to this girl?” This is a totally valid question and I’d love to answer it.

My First Experience

I’m just little-ol-Tash who grew up in the flat lands of Canada. My mom was a motivational speaker and business owner so I grew up with many books and teaching on personal development. One of my earliest investments in personal development was reading How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

That same year I was working at a carnival and I remember using it as a platform to implement principles in the book. Particularly the ones on making people like you. I was animated and enthusiastic while making a point to make people feel important. I dished out sincere compliments and showed heartfelt appreciation. People are naturally drawn to those who like and admire them, this is an easy way to do it.

I also intentionally smiled at people. A skill that (believe it or not must be taught and practised). A smile says, “I like you and I am pleased with you.” This tiny gesture does wonders to make people like you. Unless it’s creepy and over the top, thats just weird.

Stable, Balanced and Motivated

I go through seasons of learning. Sometimes I attend conferences and classes taking hoards of notes. Other times I slowly comb through a book as I underline, make stars and write out valuable nuggets. Audio books and Podcast are a regular in my life while I drive.

I have learned that personal growth keeps me balanced, stable and motivated. It’s exciting to learn new things but it’s even more exciting to see these things affect your life and relationships in a positive way.

My Monumental Year

8 years ago I decided I would put myself though Bible school, I listened and studied the Word for hours upon hours each day. I will never forget, I grew more in that year than all my years prior – this was monumental. But my love for personal development kept creeping back in and I started to pick up more book on relationships, business and overall life success.

It was amazing for me to clearly see these books re-iterate what I just spent a whole year studying. Every personal development book I’ve read spits out teachings from scripture. Now, not all authors realize it or give scripture credit but the message for creating Your Most Beautiful Life (yourmostbeautifullife.com) remains the same.

Just like science is science and laws are laws. The principles that dictate healthy relationships and a successful life remain the same. Here are 5 prominent ingredients I’ve scraped off every successful life. Like baking a cake, there are standard ingredients one must have for it to be a success and without any ONE of those ingredients, the cake will flop.

Life is no different. If you haven’t already done so, check out my 5 Must-Have Ingredients Every Success Life is Built On.

Nuggets of Wisdom

I love notebooks, they are my most prized possessions, my biggest legacy and the best inheritance my children will receive. My notebooks are like gold, packed with nuggets of wisdom, valuable insight and personal stories. Who doesn’t enjoy reading heart felt personalized handwritten notes?

Apart from notebooks I also have endless files on my computer. I’ll go to type a simple thought but every now and again it takes over and I get in-the-zone. If you share the same faith, then you would understand this as the Holy Spirit (and there is no better feeling than this in the world). I’m so thankful for a supportive husband during these moments.

My Fingers Bumper Shine My Thoughts

When I get in-the-zone the rest of the world disappears. Sometimes I’ll be lost in this place for hours, and I’m not talking 2, more like 6, 8 or 12 hours straight. My fingers type faster than normal and time stands still. My mind races though thoughts like a well planned adventure and my fingers bumper shine attempting to keep up. I can’t do this at will, it comes on me when I least expect it.

It was after one of those episodes I realized. I. Am. An. Author.

I took a figurative step back, and allowed this new reality to wash over me. This was not something I thought I would do. Not something I strived for or dreamed about, but something I discovered about myself, naturally.

The Dream that Chose Me

I knew early on I’d be speaking and teaching but writing? This was new and complimented the dream that already chose me. Yes, the dream chose me. It’s in me, a part of me, I can’t run form it, ignore it or hope it goes way. It never leaves me and I’m okay with that because I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.

To be honest…..learning in droves, implementing what I’ve learned and writing about my experience is one of the things I look forward to most in life. Absurd hey? On the surface it doesn’t sound too exciting, but if you were in my mind, you’d understand the party going on. Writing use to be something I did as a hobby and now I’m honoured to pursue it seriously as I tirelessly write to serve YOU.

Taking My Sweet Time

I have no books published yet (just an e-book) but I have many in the making and many more on the back burner. For now I’m focused on excelling in the season of life I’m in, which is raising and homeschooling my kiddos. I get one shot to pour into them and I need to be present.

So for the time being, blogging will suffice, along with online courses, coaching, workshops and the occasional speaking engagement.

I share all this to assure you, I’ve done my research, I’ve been studious and have put in the time. Writing and teaching wasn’t something I came up with on a whim, nor is it something I’m “trying out.” This has been a part of me for as long as I could remember, I’m just finally deciding to turn the next chapter on this journey.

Proof Is In the Pudding

It’s also fitting to inform you I speak from experience. I have successfully overcome low self-esteem, eating disorders, depression, insecurity, trust issues, suicidal thoughts and other unhealthy habits.

If you missed reading my story.. it’s still here… right where I left it last.

I am absolutely certain, if you trust the truth behind this teaching and implement it, you will see positive results. This material is battle-tested and proven -not just by me- by many teachers and leaders throughout history.

If you are feeling ambitious dive into a course and watch yourself progress. If you are really ambitions and ready to step it up, then check out my coaching where I walk you thought stubborn frustrations and into a life you once only dreamed of.

A Video For Your Entertainment

In closing, I’ll leave you with this video outlining why I do what I do and basically re-iterating what you already just read, but take look anyways. It’s only 2 minutes long.

Next week I’ll continue the series on Relationship Rules where I talk about the harm in character accusations, manipulation and how to expose your own ugly emotions.

Till then…. scroll up, click on some BROWN TEXT (if you can find it) …. and see what happens.

Tash (Your Inner-Strength Trainer)

Be Tactfully Tenacious when Confronting Conflict

Why Confront When You’d Rather Ignore

Last week you learned how to be tactful when confronted with anger. Today I explain how to be tenacious in relationship confrontation and why you should want to. 

Being tenacious requires you to be determined, to cling to a principle and not relinquishing your position. Don’t plow people over and force your viewpoint but hold onto it and stand your ground. Share your stance respectfully.

It’s imperative to tenaciously confront conflict and not stand silent in the face of injustice.

This is where some relationships get themselves in trouble. You don’t want to rock the boat so you let things slide. You’d rather not confront what bothers you, so you allow yourself to get stepped on, taken advantage or for a need to go unmet. Stop taking the easy way out. Although this avoids immediate displeasure it creates long term turmoil and stunts relationship growth. You don’t want that now do you?

At first, letting things slide seems harmless but when left unchecked, you’ll end up like a child hiding a pile of toys under the bed.  Keep the relationship healthy. Deal with issues as they arise or you’ll be faced with a pile of junk to clean up.

Of course you’ll need to know WHEN you confront and HOW to confront, let’s get to it.

Get Out Of The Heat

The time to tenaciously confront is NOT in the heat of an argument. Last week you read how an angry person flosses their ears with your words, as what you say goes in one ear and out the next.  In the-heat-of-the-moment is not the time to address important issues for the heart of the matter will certainly go unheard. If you missed this you can catch up here.  http://tashstewart.com/get-off-relationship-merry-go-round/)

If an argument demands discussion? Let them know you will take part when there is no more yelling, name calling or speaking in a condescending tone. This is as much for you as it is for them. Take the mature stance and step away. Don’t let yourself get out of control. Come back once you’ve gained  mental strength. Come back level headed. Be tenacious, hold this stance and don’t back down.

Gather your thoughts, take some space and collect yourself, you have the right to do this. If you are looking for permission, I give it to you now.  But beware, this gesture will likely arouse even more anger in the other individual. Whether the storm with grace as you keep yourself calm. In time, as they learn the new limit you set, they will settle into their new role and you will both come out stronger because of it.

Don’t Act Like Children Without Restraint

Your tactful tenacious stance will shock your spouse (and yourself to be honest). This will be as new and strange for you as it is for them.  Habits keep us on the same page. Repeating unhealthy habits cause us to go no where.  We don’t cover ground, we don’t grow, we don’t change, like that merry-go-round I mentioned last week.

When someone is reacting without restraint, don’t stay in the same room. Physically separate yourselves while these high-emotions die down.  This takes strength and is a noble thing to do.

Be tactful; let arguments pass, remain calm, stable and kind.  Be tenacious, identify the source of conflict and confront the matter…. later.  Whether it’s later that day, tomorrow or whenever.  Wait till both of you are level-headed, come together like mature adults. I stress mature as many adults come together fighting like children without restraint.

Tossing hurtful, careless words will cause you both to end up frustrated, hurt and repeating the same unhealthy cycle. Instead, be tenacious in your stance to be heard while approaching conflict tactfully. This is the best way to set yourself up for your message to successfully be heard.

See It, Then Do It

Before you walk into a conversation where tension tends to arise play the scenario out in your mind. See yourself remaining calm, and not letting offensive comments arouse anger within you. Determine before hand how you will act, what you will say and then play out what you’ve rehearsed. Build confidence by successfully managing a difficult situation, even if the success is imagined.

Did you know mental rehearsal is a popular practise amongst athletes? This isn’t something I thought up, it’s something many professionals understand and use to gain success. Be tenacious in using this tool to improve your relationship skills and personal growth?

Don’t allow wrong against you to create wrong within you.

Do what is right even when it’s not being done unto you. You’ve heard the saying two wrongs don’t make a right, well this is the time the saying plays true.

It’s Time … Step up-to the Plate

When you confront someone to talk about an important issue, be sure you do so with a soft, humble attitude.  Don’t approach aggressively or with a fighting tone, that will instantly arouse a fight within them.  When someone approaches with two fists in the air, the other person is likely to be just as quick to raise theirs – instinctively.  Verbal attacks are no different. How you approach sets the tone for your discussion so do so gently.

I get it, this is incredibly difficult to do, it may even feel impossible but I am here to tell you it’s not. It just requires practise, consistency and patience.   I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes certain I’ve lost my marbles but hear me out.

Go to them when you know they are in a good head space. Ask their permission to discuss the topic and speak in a calm, collected manner as you bring up points of tension. Don’t become unstable or loose control. Hold it together and end the conversation if you find yourself heading in the wrong direction.

Reluctantly Complying

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. – Dale Carnegie.

If you force someone into willingly comply, you will not have their good will. This will only bring about temporary change instead of a lasting results. Be sincere in your requests and let them know how their actions are affecting you, any reasonable spouse should take this into consideration when making decisions.

Make Your WHY Clear

Many times we state what we want someone to do instead of why we want them to do it. Stating what we want doesn’t get to the heart of the problem and the heart of the problem is what needs to be address for lasting change to take place.

For example. Instead of asking your spouse to pick their clothes up off the floor and place them into the hamper, let them know why you want them to do this. Is it just for a clean house? Or is there a deeper issue?

If you want them to pick up their clothes just for the sake of picking up their clothes, this may not be a strong enough motivation for them to do this. If they realize how it’s making you feel and how it affects your relationship, this builds a stronger case.

  • Do you feel taken advantage?
  • Or you feel like their mom?
  • Do you feel like their slave as you clean up after them?

It’s possible they are unaware how their actions affect you and simply voicing your feelings may bring about the change you long for.  Extend grace, breaking engrained habits is difficult.  Change won’t happen overnight, but a willingness to move in the right direction should cause you to have a private little party inside.

What’s in it For Them?

So you’ve been affected, this isn’t enough.  Let them know how this change will positively affect their life.

People don’t want to go the extra mile, just for the sake of going the extra mile.  Rarely will someone make a change for the sake of someone else. Naturally, mankind is selfish so appeal to their natural tendency – if you can.

Think real deep about how your requested change will benefit them

  • Will you be more responsive to their sexual advances? (Did I just say that? …. yes I did)
  • Are you going to want to spend more time with them?
  • Does this make you open to hearing about their day?
  • Are you motivated to take on one of their requests?
  • Do you want to do something that’s really important to them?

Speak Their Language

Tenaciously speak in terms of their interests, use terminology they relate to. This will require thoughtful effort and putting a limit on those emotional feelings begging to front flip off your tongue; but it’s certainly worth it.

For example. Don’t just say “I really want to go on a date with you.” “Will you please take me to a hotel for the night?”  Instead say, “I would really like to get emotional naked with you as I share what’s on my mind and in my heart.” Or you could say, “I would really like for you to take me to a hotel so we could have a special (throat clearing sounds) experience.”  Come. On. Ladies…. Now THIS will get your husbands attention. (And yes, you may use these lines)

Use these tactics to gain enthusiastic agreement. Alright, alright, enthusiastic agreement may be exaggerated, but at least you’ll have their attention and likely their interest.  What does your spouse need or want and how will helping you, help them achieve their goals?

Let Me Help You Become More Tactfully Tenacious

In an effort you help you along in this relational endeavour I want to leave you with a few power phrases to trigger a positive response.  Write them down, take a picture, print them, do whatever you must do to remember to use them as needed.

  • I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I’d appreciate your patience as I grow.
  • I’m still learning, will you learn with me?
  • Sometimes I am wrong, I’d love to hear your perspective.
  • I’d love your feedback.
  • Will you teach me?
  • Please tell my what I did to upset you
  • How are you viewing this situation?
  • I believe you said THIS, did I get that right?
  • I am feeling really uncomfortable right now.
  • I’l like to understand your better, can you explain your reasoning?
  • What you are trying to get done?
  • Is there a different way we could try this?
  • I really messed up this time.
  • I’m embarrassed about this mistake.
  • How can we move forward?
  • This is awkward but….
  • I realize I’ve upset you but I won’t allow myself to get yelled at.
  • We’ll discuss when I’m better prepared.
  • I need to gather my thoughts.

Call things out for how they are. Don’t sugar coat the situation. Practise using power phrases at the right time and you will pave the way for smoother conversation.

Covering a Lot Of Ground

This article covered a lot of ground and I moved rather quickly so I’ll take a moment to recap as I connect each point to their correlating Relationship Rule.

Relationship Rule #3: Leave no rock unturned, don’t sweep concerns under the rug. 

Being tenacious means you value your opinion and recognize they it should be heard.  Your viewpoint matter. Stop pretending that everything is okay, stop living a false life.  It’s time to be real with one another and go where you’d prefer not to. It’s your duty to speak truthfully and stop hiding from confrontation.

Healthy relationships don’t let things go and hope they disappear, they bring them out into the open and deal with them as they arise. Otherwise issues will sit, fester and infect the relationship like an unkept sore.

Relationships are a breeding ground for growth and growth is required for healthy, mature relationships.

  • Put off falsehood and speak truthfully. Ephesians 4:25
  • Speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15

When Anger is Flying, Move out of the Way

Relationship Rule #4: Don’t discuss important uses when anger is flying. 

Being tenacious requires you to put a boundary on yourself and not let people speak disrespectfully to you.  Don’t let yourself get yelled at. Don’t listen to someone call you names or make character accusations.  Of course you can’t stop them from talking but you can respectfully (and calmly) remove yourself from the situation.  You can distance yourself and choose to have discussion when emotions aren’t so high.

  • An intelligent, rational, sensible individual sees danger and retreats but the thoughtless, indifferent and inattentive keep going and suffer for it. Proverbs 27:12 (with a Dash of Tash)

Next week I zoom through more Relationship Rules. Don’t deprive yourself,  join our virtual family and never miss a post.

If you found this information valuable, be sure to spread the love and share it.

Get Off the Relationship Merry-Go-Round

Anger…  wanna go there? Probably not but we are anyways.

Do you have anger? Yea you do, or at least you did at one point before you successfully got rid of it.  (Is this even possible? I don’t know.  If that’s you we need to talk because I’m a work in progress and I have a few questions myself)

Anger is a signal, a warning and sends a message that…

    • … something isn’t right.
    • … you are being hurt.
    • … injustice is being done.
    • … you are being violated.
    • … your needs aren’t adequately met.
    • … your values are being compromised.

When something isn’t right your inner-switch is flipped telling you your relationship is off balance. Since we all bring our own set of values and beliefs to the table sometimes these will conflict and this is where tension begins.

Use your anger to identify where things need to change and allow it to fuel you towards growth. 

Unless you live in a perfect world with perfect people troublesome things will happen.  People will hurt you, offend you and step on your toes, it’s inevitable. So instead of denying this reality be smart and equip yourself to handle these situations.  There are two sides of this; what you do with yourself an what you do with others.

If you want to be effective at influencing others – and yes you can influence others – you must first be able to influence yourself. Is that such an absurd thought?  Manage yourself before you mange others?

Fair enough

What’s Your Anger Style?

Before you learn how to get your own anger under control identify what your anger style is.  Although it’s common to move through styles – which I will describe below – you generally will resonate with one more than the others.

  1. Silent Stuffer – A Silent Stuffer quietly suffers, they go with the flow, denying themselves and don’t even try to voice their thoughts and opinions.
  2. Peaceful Pusher – A Peaceful Pusher vocalizes their thoughts and feelings in a peaceful manner but backs off when met with opposition.
  3. Roaring Retreater – A Roaring Retreater also vocalizes themselves but does aggressively, they too back off when met with opposition.
  4. Bold Blinder – A Bold Blinder is one who consistently vocalizes their opinions and thoughts loudly and angrily, pushing their point with force.

Perhaps you start as a Silent Stuffer but eventually explode moving straight to a Roaring Retreater.  You loudly attempted to be heard but end up retreating when you realize there is too much opposition.

Maybe you are a Peaceful Pusher but move to a Roaring Retreater when peaceful pushing isn’t working. Both attempts cause you to back down and retreat to a Silent Stuffer.

Maybe you’re are a Bold Blinder aggressively fighting to get your point across only to find yourself living with relationship turmoil.

No mater which route you take or which style you cling to, all have the same outcome. Each of these styles find themselves on a relationship merry-go-round, stuck, frustrated, and in a hopeless continual cycle. Thank goodness we can get off this silly ride, there is a better way.

Get off the merry-go-round

The best option is to be Tactfully Tenacious.  This is having the inner-strength to keep your own emotions stable while having the staying power to enforce values and limits where necessary. 

This is the emotional intelligence I spoke about last week. Miss it? Read it here.

Tact is the ability to deal with difficult situations with sensitivity, discretion and thoughtfulness while being tenacious allows you to persist and not back down when you are met with force. What a concoction hey? So how we we develop tact? We apply the relationship rule #1.

Relationship Rule #1: Own yourself, your thoughts, your emotions and actions. 

Huh? Own yourself? You may be wondering how do you NOT own yourself? Well, as long as you are blaming others for your situation, your life and your feelings you will never have the strength to take back what rightfully belongs to you.  If you’ve lost yourself in a relationship you cannot blame a controlling spouse because you complied, you gave up your rights and allowed yourself to go with the flow. If you have needs going unmet, again it’s your responsibility to voice those and continue to work towards a solution. Backing down and giving up is also a choice, it’s your choice and one you cannot blame anyone else for.

It is imperative in healthy, happy relationships that each individual remains just that… an individual. And although a marriage consists of two people becoming one, those two people need to remain a whole person themselves. Don’t cut yourself in half and give up part of yourself along this journey, that is not what marriage is suppose to be.

Lost in Frustration

Understandably, you may not know how to bring about the results you are looking for, despite giving it your sincere effort. This series will help you understand what to do in those situations and how to significantly increase your chances for results.

Getting back to controlling yourself, how do you respond when met with anger? Do you explode with emotions and become a Bold Blinder? If you meet anger with anger you end up blinding the heart of the message with high emotions. You want to he heard don’t you? Then stop blinding your message with anger.  Aggressive anger is a turn off and doesn’t motivate anyone. In fact it causes people to back away and enforces unhealthy relationship patterns.

You must learn how to harness yourself, hold back, keep your mouth closed and stay composed while the storm passes.  You will loose some battles, you won’t get your way, they won’t do as you wish.  Be prepared for this.  It’s not worth bruising your relationship for a one-time win. Instead, get to the heart of the mater and experience lasting change? Be willing to loose a temporary battle in order to win the long-term war.

Ok, ok, so you don’t want to refer to marriage as war… but you get the picture. Getting to the heart of the issue and dealing with it for good far outweighs fighting relentlessly to get your way, this time.

Making it Through an Anger Storm

In order to influence others you’ll need to become friends with tact. As an anger storm approaches, tact will guide you to approach situations with grace, patience and kindness.

Tact helps you overlook offence and not take things to heart. If you know who you are then insults won’t slap you in the face.  You won’t feel the need to have the last say, defend yourself or get even. You will let hurtful comments roll of your back and not take them personally.

Of course you will want to address the comment, but not at that moment.  An angry individual will take what you say and floss their ears with it, in one, out the other and back and forth. Don’t waste your breath. We’ll talk more on this next week.

Tact tells you to speak softly when confronted with anger. This quality takes practice but it’s actually fun to develop (no seriously).  See it as a personal challenge as you develop right in front of your own eyes.  Be proud of yourself for speaking softly when met with anger.  This is not an easy feat and not for the weak.

Tact demands that you look with kindness and compassion even if you are met with angry eyes.  Oh dear, this goes beyond controlling what you say and goes to the core of your body language, which usually oozes out without thinking.  Can we really take control of this? You sure can.  Make a point to give a small, humble smile, while emanating a soft, gentle look from your eyes and face.

Sheesh, this is kinda difficult to explain, it’s weird to describe your eyes as emanating softness, but I hope you’re following along anyways.

You Are Capable

Relationship Rule #2: Detect anger and deflect it by overlooking offence, speaking softly and being kind.

When confronted with anger, the softer you approach and the lighter you tread, the longer path you pave and the smoother the ride will be. Are you are capable of overlook offence, holding your tongue, speaking softly and giving kind looks while anger stares back at you. This is the first step to influencing your relationship, are you willing to give it a shot? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know.

Next week I will discuss being tenacious and how this plays into how we confront anger. Be sure not to miss it, join us here.