Think of the relationship that’s the hardest for you. It may be your spouse, your sister in law, your boss, your child, or your best friend.
What if you had a way to fix this relationship? It sounds impossible, but it’s not.
Even the hardest relationships can be fixed.
In this episode, I share with you how to fix a broken relationship using life coaching tools that will change your relationship today.
Here are more of my favorite resources for this episode:
- How To Fix A Relationship (blog post)
- Toxic And Difficult Relationships (podcast)
- How To Deal With Toxic And Difficult People (blog post)
- A Quick Way To Have Better Relationships Right Now (blog post)
- Personal Development Master Class (free training)
- Personal Development For Her (course)
- Grow You (coaching)
Full Episode Transcript
Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast where it’s all about designing your life on your terms and now your host, Natalie Bacon.
Hi friend. How’s it going in your world? It is going really well in mine. I cannot believe we are heading into March. This has been a whirlwind of a winter. I actually really enjoyed getting a puppy in the winter because I just wanted to stay inside anyway, so it made it super easy for puppy training in terms of not feeling like I was missing out on all of the activities. So it’s been a very indoor sort of cozy winter for me and I have no complaints. I’m really, really enjoying it. But of course like every good Midwesterner I am looking forward to spring time. I’m actually just about to head out on a girls’ trip to Key Largo and get some sunshine with some of my high school girlfriends. So I’m really excited about that. And then I head into a season full of some work trips. And then there is the Design Your Dream Life Live event at the end of April. If you don’t have your ticket, I’m not sure if we will be sold out by the time this is released or not, but you can check it out at nataliebacon.com/liveevent. What else is going on in my world? That’s about it.
Um, if you know someone who would love this podcast, please send it to them. I would love if you did that because so many of you email me and tell me how much it’s changing your life. And the best way for me to be able to help other people is to get them the podcast. This work changed my life. I know I’ve talked about my one on one coaching before that I did with an exclusive coach, but I haven’t mentioned that she gave me, I think one of the best compliments that I’ve ever received, which was that I manage my mind in the top 1% of people who she’s worked with. And for me that meant so much to me because it’s, you know, reinforcing what I already believe is true and what I want to do and provide for you. So I am applying this work to my life and I want to be an example to you that if you apply it to your life, you can really design your dream life, whatever that looks like to you.
So in this episode I want to talk to you about fixing a broken relationship. And that might be a marriage, that might be a relationship with your best friend. It might be a relationship with your sister in law, but you know the one, it’s the hardest relationship for you and whether you define it as broken or troubled or a mess or a disaster or something else, it is the relationship of that is the most challenging for you. And what I want to do in this episode is just give you some tools that you can use so that you can fix it so that you can feel like you have some authority over it instead of believing the story that you’re telling yourself about how it’s been in the past.
So let’s just kind of go over the problem with the relationship. So right now you think you have some sort of broken, troubled relationship. There’s a relationship that’s not going well and you think that there is a reason for it. So there is a story that you’re telling about what happened. So it could be that this person was unfaithful maybe in your marriage or that this person told you to your face that they don’t love you or they don’t like you or something to that effect. Or this could be something smaller and maybe there are several events that happened over time where you feel really unsupported. But basically, facts happen, you have a story about those facts and then you feel some sort of negative emotion.
Now I’m positive you’re feeling negative emotion because we don’t talk about having a broken relationship and feel really happy and excited about it. So there’s something going on in the world between you two and then there is your story about it and then there is how you feel about it. So what I want you to do is I want you to get clear on the facts of what happened. This could be a really great exercise for you to just write down into yourself and write down exactly what happened.
So let’s say your spouse charged $5,000 on your credit card and your spouse did not tell you. So you would write down, spouse spent at $5,000 on credit card and didn’t tell me. The next thing that I want you to do is I want you to ask yourself, why is this a problem? So in the first thing, what you did was you wrote down the facts. You wrote down kind of the boring facts that are provable in a court of law. It’s just the math of it. Spouse charged five grand, spouse did not tell me. The reason that this is a problem is what you’re making it mean. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to change the story. All I want you to do right now is really get clear on what’s going on.
So your spouse charged five grand and your spouse did not tell you. Those are the facts. Now what are you making it mean? Why is this a problem? Okay? You might have the story in your head that your spouse is ruining your financial future, right? And then I want you to identify the thought and then I want you to identify the feeling that that thought is causing.
So maybe the feeling in one word is devastated and now we have something to work with, right? We have the circumstance, which is the math of it. What actually happened? It will always be like very boring. There won’t be any adjectives. It’ll just be, you know the math, he charged five grand to the credit card I need didn’t tell me. Then the thought is what you’re making it mean. The spouse is ruining our financial future. And then the feeling is whatever you feel when you think that thought. The negative emotions you have are from what you are making it mean. What you are making the circumstances mean.
So if Mark Cuban’s wife goes and charges five grand on their credit card and doesn’t tell him, it’s probably not a big deal, right? It’s the same exact circumstance, the same math, but different meaning and not just Mark Cuban or Oprah or people who are really, really wealthy. It could be anyone. Everyone has different interpretations and different rules and different agreements with their spouses about money. So for you, your spouse charged five grand and didn’t tell you, and you’re making it mean that your spouse is, you know, someone you can’t trust. They’re ruining your financial future, right? All the things, whatever story you’re telling, I want you to ask yourself how it makes you feel. And then I want you to own that feeling and take responsibility for it.
So what’s typically happening when we think that our relationship is broken, it’s that we think our needs aren’t being met. The person is doing something and it’s against what we want, and we think that they’re the ones causing us to feel pain. So because the spouse went and charged five grand and didn’t tell me, I feel devastated. When you break it down and you do the exercise that I just showed you how to do, you can see that it’s actually your interpretation of the events that is creating your negative emotion.
Now, it doesn’t mean that you don’t want to feel negative emotion. You might want to be someone who feels devastated when their spouse doesn’t tell them about big purchases exceeding a certain amount. But the key is that you take responsibility for how you feel. You say, I’m feeling devastated because I’m making it mean that I can’t trust you. You don’t say, you hurt me by not telling me this. This difference is kind of subtle. At first. You’re like, yeah, but the end result is I still feel devastated. So what’s the point of this? The point is that you can separate out your feelings from what the other person did so that you take responsibility for how you feel 100% of the time and then from that clean place, once the emotion passes, once you allow the emotion, you can decide on purpose what you want to do about it, right?
You can always ask the person in the relationship to do or not do something. I highly recommend this, but the key is that you don’t hinge your emotional life on whether they do it. So adults, I’ve said before, have agency, they get to do whatever they want, right? It’s kind of different when we have employees or when we’re talking about our kids. But when we’re just talking about adults in our life, whether it’s our spouse, our sister-in-law, our mother, our brother or friends, whatever, regular adults, they can do whatever they want, but you can ask them to do something.
So here’s an example. I really love getting flowers and I really want to get flowers on Valentine’s day. So like the life coach that I am, I asked Steve to get me flowers ahead of time. Now he doesn’t have to get me flowers. He can get me flowers or he doesn’t have to get me flowers. It’s just me sharing my preference. That’s so different than controlling. So I would never say, if you don’t get me flowers, I’m going to be so mad at you. Or if you don’t take me out, I’m going to be mad. Or like something like that where you’re trying to control and manipulate the other person. So what I want you to do is I want you to make sure that your wants are clearly expressed for the little things, but also for the big things, right? So flowers on Valentine’s day is a really small thing, but that’s just something that I really like. I really like flowers. I have no problem buying them for myself. I don’t really need the surprise element of it. I know that by telling him that he doesn’t have to try to pretend to read my mind. Super easy, super solvable.
But this applies to the big things as well. I like to text. I’m a texter, I’m a communicator. So in the beginning of my relationship, Steve, I asked him if we could text more. And it’s so important that I bring this up because a lot of times we judge ourselves for what we want and it’s totally okay to want what you want, just like your reason. So if your reason is something based on insecurity, then even with the other person doing what you want, you’re not going to feel better.
So let’s say that you want your husband to call every day. He’s out of town because you think that he might be cheating on you or you don’t really think he’s going where he’s going or you just feel like you can’t trust him. Those calls every day aren’t going to make you feel better. So just be aware of whatever you’re asking the other person to do. Be aware of the reason that you want it because you can surely ask him to call everyday when he’s out of town for a very different reason. Maybe just because you want to talk to him and it’s not based on insecurity at all.
So you want to make your wants clear to the other person and also be very clear to yourself about what is so important to you to get from that relationship. So you might want to have someone you travel with and that might be something that you can get from your friends. You might have the want of communicating, you know, via text and that might be something important to you with your husband. You might have the want of, you know, personal development and that might be something you can get with your business colleagues or people who you do conferences with or coaching with or something like that.
I actually coach a lot of members in Grow You about this that they will want their significant other to be super into personal development and that’s fine. You can want what you want, just like your reason. For me, that’s just never been something super important to me in a romantic partner, and I say this because it’s really important that you understand, you don’t have to get everything from one person. When you kind of spread out what you want, it’s a lot easier to accept people for who they are instead of putting so much pressure on one person to be perfectly exactly how you want them to be. So that’s more about you getting clear on what you want and making sure the other person knows what you want without doing it from a controlling place.
It’s like, Hey, by the way, I’m not sure if you know this, I really love to go out to eat. I would really love it if on my birthday you made reservations for us to go out to eat at my favorite restaurant. Now this person can do it or they can not do it, but at least you’ve let them know and to when they don’t do it, you can still feel upset. But again, I want you to go through that exercise of getting clear on what happened. So your husband doesn’t make plans for your birthday. You know, you ask yourself, why is that a problem? You’re making it mean that your husband doesn’t love you, he doesn’t care about you. You have this whole story about it and what’s the feeling? The feeling is sad. The feeling is lonely, right? Then I want you to go back and get really clear about the truth. The truth is that the circumstances neutral and you get to decide on purpose what you want to make the circumstance mean.
Now, maybe if your spouse doesn’t plan dinner reservations on your birthday, you actually don’t want to be heartbroken, but maybe if he cheats on you, you do. Either way you are choosing on purpose to own what you’re making. The circumstance mean you are choosing on purpose, how you want to think about it and how you want to feel. That’s what this is all about. It’s taking responsibility for how you feel from a place of awareness. And I know from doing this work for so long and trying to control other people that there’s always more work to be done.
So think about that troubled relationship that you want to fix and really bring awareness to the facts, the story you’re telling about the facts, how your feeling and what you are making all of it mean. Because the solution is not the other person changing. Why? Because it doesn’t work. You cannot control another person. You can bring up to them what your wants are and you can decide to stay or go based on that. Now, if you find that you were with someone who wants to live a totally different lifestyle than you, and it’s a complete mismatch that doesn’t make the other person wrong and it doesn’t make the other person responsible for you being hurt, it just means that you want different things and that the relationship is complete. Just be careful that when you are ending relationships, you do it from a place of just because you want to, not because you think that this other person is responsible for you feeling bad.
Because when you blame something outside of you for your feelings and you change your circumstance to feel better, you will likely recreate that feeling. So if you feel lonely in your current relationship and you end it so that you can be with someone where you don’t feel lonely, you will likely get in a new relationship and create that feeling of lonely in a different way. Why? Because the universe is saying that your homework and lesson right now is to learn how to feel lonely. What I mean by that is your thoughts create the feeling of lonely. So I always say stay or go, but like your reason, right? The reason, the best reason ever to end a relationship is just because you want to, because you want to complete it, not because you want to feel better. Right? So I want you to think about little examples in your life and big ones.
You know when you are not invited to something, are you blaming that other person or are you taking responsibility for how you feel? The other person can always do whatever they want and it doesn’t mean that you have to stay in a relationship with them. It just means that when you take responsibility for how you feel, you actually have some authority to change it.
I was coaching someone in Grow You whose sister in law didn’t support her in her goals. And she had this expectation that the sister in law should support her, but she never articulated that. And she was blaming her sister in law for how she felt. So what you can do is you can say, hey sister-in-law, I have this business, I would love it so much if you supported me and sister law can either support you or not. That’s totally sister-in-law’s business and she can do whatever she wants. You did your peace, you asked her to, and guess what? You get to feel supported based on what you’re thinking, not based on what she does. You can always feel supported.
And when you’re thinking about the relationship that’s kind of causing you the most problems, I want you to decide on purpose if you actually want to be in that relationship. If the answer is yes, then the next part is to choose love, to choose love and to commit to it for you, not the other person. And this is a skill that you can get good at. It’s choosing love on purpose and I want you to know it’s always available to you. So love does not come from outside of you. It’s not an energy that you know comes from someone else and jumps inside of you. Love is a feeling that is created by your thinking. So if you say, I want to be in a relationship with this person and I want to love them, what does unconditional love look like? And like I’ve said before, unconditional love might mean no. You can love someone and say no, but I want you to commit to feeling it for you instead of blaming the other person for the negative emotion that you feel, which is normally what we do. Okay?
So part of this is on you deciding what you want and being aware of what you want. And that goes for the big things like a monogamous relationship and the small things like communicating and flowers, there is no right or wrong. There’s just being aware that the more you rely on having the same wants with one person kind of the harder it is to get. So you might want to make monogamy a requirement, but you might not want to make flowers a requirement to be in a relationship with you. And you want to make sure that you’re doing it from a place of love for you. And you can always set boundaries. But again, you want to do it for you and you want to do it out of love.
People get really confused about boundaries. They tend to set boundaries all the time and in a way to control people, and a boundary is simply just something that you’ll do when someone comes into your space. For example, whenever you come in my office and yell at me, I’m going to leave. I don’t want to be yelled at. I understand that you have your thoughts and your feelings and that you’re going to yell at me and I’m telling you I don’t want to be yelled at and if you yell at me again, I’m going to leave. That’s a boundary. It’s what you will do when the other person comes into your space. There’s not a lot of times where boundaries come up in my coaching experience so far, a lot of times people think it’s a boundary thing, but really it’s just a, I want to control you thing.
So for you, my lovely friend with the broken relationship, decide on purpose if you want to be in a relationship with this person. Choose unconditional love. Decide what it is that you want. Be vulnerable enough to tell the other person and be gracious enough and be strong enough to accept whatever the other person does without trying to control them. They get to do whatever they want and you get to make it mean whatever you want and from there you can feel any emotion and take responsibility for it.
If your spouse cheats on you, you might want to make it mean that your relationship is complete and you want to be devastated, but if your sister in law forgets your birthday, you might not want to make it mean that she doesn’t love you. You might want to decide on purpose that, hey, I’m going to give sister-in-law a break here even though I’m kind of sad about it and I’m just going to be sad because of the story that I’m telling that I wish would have remembered it. Right? Your taking responsibility for how you feel 100% of the time.
You can always change the story you’re telling, but you don’t have to. The key is to bring awareness to the fact that it is a story. It’s the biggest mistake that I see along with feeling a need to control other people and to believe in righteousness and fairness and always feeling like you have to stand up for yourself. And this is just a very primal thing that your brain does. Your brain is always going to default to wanting to protect you and keep you alive. And if you just notice this, you can let it go without making it such a big deal.
This work really transformed my life. I used to be someone who was very righteous and believed in fairness and justice and it’s just kind of exhausting. And so two of the best tools that I have for you that changed my life are one, to let people be wrong about you and two, to agree with them. So when someone accuses you of something or if you hear a story about someone talking about you behind your back or whatever the case may be, when you have that impulse to correct them and be right and stand up for yourself, what I like to do now instead is to just let them be wrong about me. I like to say it’s totally fine. They can just be wrong about me. And it kind of releases this tension and stress. Along the same lines, but kind of the opposite is to agree with them. It’s like, can you find any truth in what they’re saying?
Recently someone sent me a DM on Instagram about how they were tired of seeing my puppy and that I should consider what my audience wants to see on Instagram. And my immediate thought was, how dare she, this is free content. You know, if she wants my paid stuff, she should be in my programs and the nerve of her, right? Like it was very primal. I really wanted to defend myself and then I just thought, oh yeah, she can just be wrong about me or yeah, sometimes I do post too much about Penny. It’s totally fine. I get it and then it’s just released and then I can move on. Because when I spend so much time in the righteousness and the fairness and the control and it’s so much chatter that takes up space from actual chatter I want to be having, meaning I want to be thinking about my goals and my day and I don’t want to be reacting to someone’s random DM. It’s just not a good use of my mental energy.
So for you, for the little things like the DMs, or the no text back, or the forgetting the birthday or not getting invited, what is the story that you’re telling and what are you feeling and are you taking responsibility for feeling that way and for the big things, for the cheating, for the job loss, for you know, the humiliation and the failures. What are you making all of those mean and how are you feeling and are you taking responsibility for how you feel?
I don’t mean for you to ever take responsibility for someone else’s actions, but the truth is adults can do whatever they want. And when you realize that it’s so much more freeing, you’re like, oh he cheated on me cause he wanted to cheat on me and I get to feel devastated because I actually want to feel devastated when my husband cheats on me. I want to feel devastated. Of course, right? Now what? Instead of trying to control him, I can decide, do I want to stay or do I want to just complete this relationship? Right? It gives you your emotional power back.
All right. Lastly, I want to give you a couple practical tips to remember for when shit hits the fan, for lack of a better phrase. Remember to pause, remember to create space before you react. Take a deep breath and say, you know what? I just feel such strong, negative emotion, I want to come back to this after this emotion has passed. And then I want you to decide on purpose how you want to think and feel about the situation.
I want you to make sure you’re addressing a specific issue and said, have you always, and this always and turning one instance into this huge problem that we tend to do with our brains. Have the courage to ask for what you want and be willing to experience any negative emotion and be vulnerable. And remember, you are 100% worthy of being loved and so is the other person. They are 100% lovable just as they are. They don’t need to do anything else. They don’t need to change at all and neither do you. You’re not better than the other person and the relationship does not have to hit rock bottom or get so bad for it to just be complete.
When you focus on being right and winning, you will decrease your connection. That’s why vulnerability is so important. Remember that no one else causes your feelings that’s your job, and regardless of the circumstances, love is always available to you. Loving is something you can practice and get really good at. And the result of doing this work will be increased intimacy and increased connection. It’s hard to do, especially if this work is new for you, right? We want to be right, but you can use your prefrontal cortex. You can get coaching, you can choose love and appreciation on purpose. It’s so worth it for you and for your relationships and for the rest of your life to focus on this. Your relationship is the story you tell yourself. Make it a good one. I love you and I will talk with you next week.
Hey, if you liked this podcast you really should check out, Grow You, my life coaching program. I coach you on everything I teach on the podcast so that you can uplevel your life. We 10x it so you get the results you want most. Just like a monthly gym membership to get your body in shape, this is a monthly personal development membership to get your mind in shape. It is an investment your future self will thank you for. Check it out at Nataliebacon.com/coaching. That’s Nataliebacon.com/coaching. I will see you there.