I recently sat with one of my best friends over coffee. Because I trust her so much, I told my friend about a problem I’d been having with my husband, as it bothered me deeply. She listened, as all good friends do, and then we moved on to other topics.
After we left each other, I realized that listening to myself tell the story of my problem with my husband to my friend had been very helpful. I had heard how I wanted my husband to change and how I wanted things to be different than they were.
I heard myself and I sounded like a child having a tantrum.
Because I can’t change another person, and I can’t make things different than they are, so lamenting the fact that someone else is not different than they are is like lamenting that the sun sets every night. It’s a fact and there’s nothing I can do to change it.
The only thing I can change is myself: my thoughts, my feelings, and my behavior.
I know this—I spend my professional life helping people realize this truth. And, honestly, I thought I was really good at accepting the reality of my life and letting other people be who they are without trying to change them.
But apparently not when it comes to my husband. (Our closest relationships tend to be the most difficult for us to accept.)
So what can I do?
I can realize what I am thinking, which is, mostly: But I want it to be different!
Then, accept reality, and work on changing my thoughts.
The best way I know to do both of these things is to use the work of Byron Katie. When I do that, I change.
When I change, it suddenly seems as if the people around me are kinder, more thoughtful, and funnier. (I don’t know about you, but life is not fun when I’m wishing everyone and everything were different than they are!)
In fact, just realizing how infantile my thinking was shifted my thinking—and my husband does seem kinder, more thoughtful, and funnier than he did a few days ago.