Change your story to change your relationship

When I start to think about it I can list many happy relationships. But my thoughts quickly shift to finding a greater number of “unhappy” or “not quite as I’d like them to be” relationships.

The beauty with Fresh Air Fridays is that all our relationships could fall into the happy list and I’ll give you an example how.

My story

Last month I had a big birthday. I’m not fussed about getting older and took this birthday as a prompt to look back on the past decade, which has been a good one for me. I celebrated the day with my husband and two small children with a walk around a National Trust property. It was beautifully sunny with the promise of spring approaching. They’d made me a cake, organised thoughtful gifts and I had lots of cards from friends and relations. Some people forgot but I knew it was because they had simply forgotten, and not because they didn’t care (I forget too sometimes!). 

To extend the celebrations I invited a small number of my close family for a pub lunch the following Saturday. When I asked my mum her immediate response was that she couldn’t come. I queried if there could be an exception because it was a special birthday, but the answer was no. I took it on the chin and we changed the subject. It was tricky because part of me really wanted her to be there, and yet another part of me was relieved. My wish was that only those people who really wanted to come, would join me.

So, the Saturday arrived and seven of us met up for a lovely pub lunch. We chatted, ate and enjoyed being together. In the moment I was happy, but before and afterwards I felt sad. I was sad, but not because I missed my mum. I was sad because of the story I was telling myself.

My narrative was that I wasn’t important enough for her to change her plans, and that really hurt.

Exploring the theme

If you’ve never been on a session, Fresh Air Fridays provides a framework in which to explore each theme. Find your nearest session by visiting our Sessions page – your first session is always free.

The Happy Relationships theme helps us understand that no-one else can make us feel anything. We are triggered by our own thoughts, interpretations, views and experiences. Ruth’s blog “7 Habits to Happier Relationships” gives more detail on this as well as some useful tips.

I have explored the Happy Relationships theme before and gained insight into this relationship previously. I’d reached a point where I could acknowledge that I love my mum, she loves me and that is enough. She is doing her best, we’re all doing our best. Accepting that was so freeing and at the time a long-felt heaviness lifted. So, I brought the same statement and understanding to this situation; she does love me, she is doing her best, and she has another commitment.

When I took responsibility and altered my story, everything shifted. It was no longer painful and the hurt I had felt was gone. In its place was love and gratitude that I have her in my life.

I’m savvy enough to understand that I could easily slip back into that old story and be triggered again, but as with anything new, it takes practice. Fresh Air Fridays provides me with the ongoing support and space to notice the stuff in my life that really matters and prompts me to act to improve it.

Your story

So, if there’s a relationship which causes you upset, breathe and give yourself some time to acknowledge how you’re feeling. Start to notice the story you’re telling yourself, and with that awareness comes the power and choice to tell yourself a different story.

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” – Wayne Dyer

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written by

Mo Sanders