About the compromises we make in the relationship with ourselves and others
- Have you ever spent time absorbed with thoughts that consequently lead you to experiencing certain emotions which, on the other hand, have triggered somewhat your inadequate behaviour?
- Have you asked yourself if it’s worth planting the seeds of such thoughts?
- Are you always aware of what you’re thinking and feeling?
I’ve spent several days pondering about the phenomenon “filter of thoughts and feelings”, aiming at improving the relationship with ourselves and with others. As you can notice, I’m using the verb “to ponder.” It sounds quite tiresome, doesn’t it? In the end perhaps it would be much healthier to avoid the tendency to stare at such small details, to which the wide audience doesn’t pay attention. Among these details could be for example the tone of the voice, moving the ashtray closer to the smoker, pouring beer for someone else, telling someone a few nice words. These are the details I am talking about.
What about you? Do you pay attention to such pieces of details?
What do you think about the belief that it’s the little things that count? Little things make big things happen (John Wooden).
This time I won’t be bothering you with unnecessary philosophy. So, let’s focus on the main subject of our discussion here: how to filter your thoughts and feelings and what inspired me to write this narrative.
Is it me who has to change or is it you?
On a regular basis I’m thinking about whether I have the right to allow certain (I’d even describe them “controlling”) thoughts to lead me to the same emotional situation. It sounds paradoxical though that we’re bound to stick to the same thought and emotional patterns but in the same time to expect a different outcome. Unfortunately, if every time when we apply these patterns, we’re waiting for something outside to change, we’ll be doomed to an eternal quest for that long desired comfort and peace.
How to avoid the burden of our own thoughts and feelings?
- From your everyday thoughts, filter those which you believe are worth focusing on
- Filter those thoughts which cause you internal discomfort, id est, find out what thought causes you to experience that exact feeling
- Filter the thoughts that are addressed to something or someone outside of you
- Limit your demands toward yourself and your surroundings
- Choose gratitude instead of your emotional greediness toward others
I understand that these notions might sound like empty, meaningless words, something like “better said than done.” I can assure you it’s much easier than it looks. It would be enough to be patient, indulgent and tolerant toward the ongoing outside happenings and accept them the way they are: the circumstances and the people who created those circumstances alike.
In order to support this analysis, let me share something personal so that you’re sure this is not just another theory but something I myself have come to believe and I’m aiming at on a daily basis. Sometimes I achieve it, sometimes – I fail.
I used to believe that just because I tend to accept, to tolerate attitude, behaviour that I myself do not demonstrate, I had the habit to demand the same from others. Unfortunately, the principle of trial-error not once convinced me that I cannot call for anything from anyone but myself.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m far from thinking that we must bow down our heads and constantly make compromises which at some point start to cause us tremendous nuisance. We start to not feel ourselves, not where we belong. We start to feel more like puppets who are fulfilling other people’s natural desires at the cost of our own principles and pleasures.
When it comes to filtering our thoughts and consequently feelings, it is much healthier to first understand whether the circumstances around us and the people involved in them have the potential to understand that our/their attitude triggers in us/them emotional disbalance. If we’re/they’re not able to do that, we/they have at least two choices:
- To choose to continue to demand what we think would be “right” and to leave the situation
- To reconsider the extent to which the current situation and what we think about it is adequate for us and therefore, to make compromise. This compromise, however, should not cost us nothing more than a shift in our perspective toward the circumstances and what we believe that directly affects us.
Let’s take an example the relationship you have with your closest ones. I dare to say that this is one of the most vulnerable relationships. Some of us have already experienced and already know that when someone dear to us intentionally or unintentionally hurts us the pain is deeper and the healing takes longer. Most probably it is because by default we don’t expect this from them or it is because we assume that when we feel love for them then hurting the other is not and should not be a part of the palette of feelings.
However, here it is not about who offends who with their attitude and words but it is more about the following:
- How well do we know the people we care for so much and how well do we believe they know us?
- Do we understand the other and does the other understand us?
- Do we take our beloved ones for granted?
- Do we communicate our thoughts and feelings in a healthy way with them?
- What can we enhance in our relationship to make the bond deeper and healthier?
The list of such self-reflective questions is endless. What more important in the given context is to work on the way we filter our thoughts and feelings but simultaneously to share how much we care for our beloved people and to find out what and if they are willing to reconsider their attitude toward us.
Some would take this as self-centeredness. However, here I am talking about healthy egoism.
What would be the consequences of establishing a new level of communication in our relationships?
- Stronger relationships, based on a clear not only vision about what the other is like but indeed what they are, without the necessity to decipher their words and actions, thoughts and feelings
As you can see, a filter can either deepen the relationship bond or loosen your grip with yourself and with your beloved ones.
Before you make any decision about when, what and who to share with, have in mind that how others react has and will not have anything to do with you but with them. Therefore, if you receive kickback in the beginning, take it easy (and I’m winking at you now). Think about this: maybe the person who you wish to improve your relationship with hasn’t even assumed that their attitude might have been hurtful to you and didn’t realize you were thinking and feeling this way. Or maybe your relationship is just fine and it doesn’t need any amendments.
The reaction of the other is vital. But what more crucial is how YOU respond to their first reaction. The decision to make the first step is loaded with responsibilities. This, however, doesn’t mean that you’re responsible for other people’s behaviour as much as it is not your responsibility if the other backs away and is not willing to rethink their own words and actions.
Nevertheless, from that point onward it will be your decision again how to move on: to make another compromise with yourself and to what extent this compromise would affect your own emotional state.
Remember that healthy egoism means to give 100 per cent from you to make things work, to respect your own (healthy and selfless) desires, to show respect to the other as much as to yourself. But when you feel that while you’re doing what you’re doing you’re feeling lack of cooperation on your beloved one’s side, then comes the moment when it’s advisable to filter either your own sentiments or to move on with your life.
Remember that moving on, choosing yourself with all your values, self-respect is still a choice: a choice which, with time, you will learn when to make and when not to.
And what about the others you might ask?
They have the right to filter their thoughts and feelings or not, to cooperate or not, to give 50 per cent or 100 per cent from themselves or not.
What shall we remember from everything said so far?
Thoughts and emotional filters are subjective when we apply it to deepen the relationship bond with ourselves as much as when we choose to improve or completely break the connection with others.
Photo by Leland Francisco