Along with billions of other people, we exist with our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Altogether, we create this coexistence that makes up the world. But how often do you pay attention to how you perceive it all?
Acknowledging the way the world is, is very different from understanding your interpretation and relationship with it. Having an intentional relationship with something doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement, it means that you’re conscious of the stories you’re telling yourself and the relationships you are creating with the world around you.
In this episode, I explain why we often interpret things in the world without any intentionality and how to change that. I show you why so many of us mistakenly believe our thoughts to be facts, and why you get to decide on purpose what your relationship with the world will be like.
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.
Hey there. Welcome to the podcast. How are you doing? I am doing amazing. Steve and I have been redecorating during our home search. If you’ve been following along on Instagram @natalierbacon, you know that we are going to buy a home probably within the next year. Ahead of that, we have redecorated our apartment, and the furniture has finally come in.
If you have ordered anything this time or year or within the last six months, you know that due to COVID and supply demand, shipping, supply chain, all of those things it’s been way more challenging than say a year ago pre-COVID to get things delivered. So it’s been extra fun for us to bring it all together.
I have to say that ever since I started this work years ago, I’ve been really intentional about making sure I love the space that I live in. I always make sure that I choose items and décor very intentionally and consciously that reflects how I want to feel in this space. So, of course, it’s never the décor that makes me feel a certain way. But it’s certain décor that will make it easier for my brain to have thoughts of appreciation and love and just feeling really like it’s a home.
So anyways, we love it. We love our home. We are going to bring it all with us wherever we decide to buy, which has just been so fun to look at home and shop for houses. I will keep you informed on all of it as we make decisions and get married in the next couple of months. It’s just been a really fun time of planning and preparing and getting it all together in a different way, right? COVID style wedding. We’re doing a family only wedding. It’s going to beautiful. I cannot wait. More to come, right. I’ll talk with you more about that as it happens. A couple more months.
Today, I want to talk with you about your relationship with the world. So if you’re a Grow You member, you know that your relationship with any person is your thoughts about that person. So if you just think very simply, I’m looking at a coffee mug right now. My coffee mug is a tangible thing outside of me. It does not exist inside of me. There is no relationship item that exists outside of me. So a relationship exists in my mind. It’s my interpretation and my thoughts and my opinions and whatever I choose to think in my mind that creates the relationship. This is true for everyone.
So if I described my relationship with my brother and then you asked my brother to describe our relationship, we would have very different language that we would use. That language would just be based on how we define relationships, how we talk, the vocabulary we have, our styles, our preferences. This isn’t in the details in the sense that it doesn’t matter. It’s actually everything.
So if you kind of see that your relationship exist in your mind and you have total control over intentionally creating those relationships, you stop trying to control other people to get them to think about the relationship in the way that you want them to. Because it doesn’t matter, right. How my brother describes it totally is irrelevant to how I can choose to describe it. He can describe it one way and I can describe it another way. Totally fine.
Remember, we exist in the world with our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and so do all of those billions of other people. Everyone is kind of collectively on earth with thoughts, feelings, and actions. Altogether we are creating this coexistence, which makes up the world. Okay?
So today I don’t even want to talk with you about the work we’ve done in Grow You already. You may have kind of heard on the podcast a little bit with respect to your relationship with other humans. I want to apply that concept to things in the world that you may have not ever thought about bringing any consciousness to. Topics like the weather, healthcare, education and the education system, the news, buying and owning a home, political parties, religion, where you live, travelling. So these are things that we do, that we have, that are in the world that often we interpret without any intentionality.
So let me give you an example with the weather. What are your thoughts about the weather? Now, depending on where you live you may relate to this or you may be very confused at why this is even an example. So in the Midwest, it is very common to talk about the weather. To lead with that in conversation, to maybe complain about. It’s always changing. We have all four seasons. It’s just something that is frequently a topic of conversation.
Now I’ve heard that if you live in somewhere like California, that is not the case. It’s just pretty much sunny all the time, but for a couple of weeks or a month or so a year when it’s maybe raining or a little bit colder than normal. No one’s really talking about it. If you are someone who does think about and talk about the weather, what are your thoughts about the weather? If you’re not really sure what your thoughts are about the weather, think about what you say about the weather. So when you’re in conversation, what do you typically say about the weather? That will typically tell you what your thoughts are about the weather.
Now, why this matter? It matters because as long as you live there will be weather, right. It’s the temperature. It’s the rain, the sun, the snow. You get to decide what your relationship with the weather will be like. It doesn’t mean that you want to love the weather all of the time, but it does mean that you decide deliberately how you want to have a relationship with it so that you don’t go into scarcity.
So let’s say that you have the thought, and you talk about how living in the Midwest, there just aren’t enough sunny days. Right. So most people when they say that, they think that they are reporting the facts. So they think that what they’re saying is what is. It’s a fact there just aren’t enough sunny days in the Midwest. But that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is that you’re reporting your interpretation of the weather. So the fact is there are X amount of sunny days. Right? That’s the fact. But whether that’s enough is your relationship with the days.
Why this matter is because it doesn’t serve you to continue to interpret the Midwest from a place of not enough-ness if you’re going to continue to live there. So what I’m hoping in this episode is for you to start to pay attention to your relationships with different parts of the world and how you interpret the world. And just to create a little bit of space between what is and your interpretation, your language, your thoughts about what is.
So knowing that there are X amount of sunny days in the Midwest, you get to decide how to think and speak deliberately about it. You can say, “It’s so wonderful to live here. I love having four seasons. I also love that it’s very safe, and I get to enjoy so many sunny days. And I also get to enjoy clouds and rain and snow.” You can decide to interpret it and have a very different relationship than you’ve ever had with where you live, with the weather instead of thinking that how you’re interpreting it right now is the facts. Or you can decide to change your circumstance and move.
Okay. So this is something that I teach at a little bit of a deeper level once you’re inside Grow You, but you can always change your circumstance. Right. It’s not a problem. We do this all the time. We change jobs. We change where we live. We maybe change relationships. The problem is when you do that in order to feel better and you get in the habit of it and you’re always chasing happy and you never find it.
So using this example. If you are always moving to different cities to feel better, you will always be moving. Because feeling better comes from changing your story, from changing your relationship with where you live. I would so much rather have you change your thoughts and your relationship about the weather and where you live and then decide I just want to move because I want to move. Right. I love Cleveland, Ohio. I love Columbus, Ohio. And I love Chicago. I love all of these cities. I always choose to love the city that I’m living in.
Now, are there certain things about Chicago that are hard or that I don’t like? Yeah. But generally overall when I’m talking about the weather and when I’m talking about the city and when I’m talking about living here, I have so many positive things to say about the city. When I first moved here, and I was walking a lot—probably a lot more than now just with COVID. I would go to different coffee shops. I went to my club downtown. I met people for lunch or happy hours or dinners, and I would always walk.
Every time I crossed an intersection, I would look and turn towards the city—whichever direction that was—and I would just say to myself, I would have the thought I just love this city. I just love Chicago. It gave me just a little moment of joy. That is being really deliberate about where you live.
Okay. Now I know a lot of people who do not like Chicago or the weather. That’s fine. You don’t have to like it. You just want to be clear that you’re choosing that interpretation deliberately. So you can just say, “I don’t like Chicago. I don’t like the weather. I’m going to move. Done.” Right? But know that that’s a choice, and that you’re doing that deliberately. And that the next place you go to you still have those kind of default thoughts.
So you want to make sure that you cultivate the relationship with the new place that you live in very intentionally. Because your brain is going to want to default to that old thinking and look for what’s wrong with where you live if that’s what you’re in the habit of. Even worse than changing your circumstances is staying and not changing your thoughts. So it would be like staying in the Midwest and continuing to complain about living here.
I saw a lot of this in Ohio and I never understood it. It was like the collective interpretation and relationship with Ohio was something to complain about and was negative and the weather. I always just thought, “Well, why not move if you just don’t like it so much?” Right. So sometimes we fall into thinking that we don’t have the power to change our lives in really dramatic ways.
Maybe we own a house, and we have kids, and it would just be so hard. Those things might be true, but then own it. Say you know what? This is where I live. I’m going to choose to have a really great relationship with the weather, with where I live. Because this is it. This is a great opportunity for me to practice my thought work if I’m living somewhere that wouldn’t be my top three cities in the world to live in. So the weather and where you live are just kind of two examples of what I’m calling your relationship with the world.
I wrote down some other examples as well. What about healthcare? I love investing in good quality healthcare. I love paying for good doctors. I love paying for insurance. I have business insurance and health insurance and life insurance and disability insurance. I love taking care of my body. I love western medicine and I love eastern medicine. I’ve decided deliberately to have this kind of relationship with healthcare. I also like to think that my body is something I have a relationship with separately apart from healthcare and the healthcare system.
Now I want to be clear to that deciding to have an intentional and deliberate relationship with something in the world doesn’t mean that you think it’s perfect and that there’s no room from improvement. I talked about this a lot in Grow You. We did a whole month on loving from abundance.
So people often say, “Well if you think that everything is so great, and you love it then you’re not going to want to change it.” I disagree. I think you can say okay. I love this. I love this part of it. I love these things that are working. I love all of it. Now let’s see how we can improve it. That type of energy will put you in momentum from a place of abundance, and it keeps you moving forward with that momentum without the scarcity, without the friction, without the resistance. So you don’t have to hate something or think that it’s horrible or be really angry in order to want to change something.
The education system is an example that I can really relate to with what I’m talking about. So I grew up in a very middle class household. My dad was a dentist. My mom’s dad—so my maternal grandfather—was also a dentist. You know my brother’s a surgeon. So school and particularly higher education has always been the expectation in my family. So I grew up thinking that becoming a professional was the highest achievement and the best thing to do for an occupation, right? I really thought that higher education was bar to none, right. It was great.
Now, I have a slightly different interpretation of education and the education system. So my relationship to higher education has changed. I still think that education is power, but I think there’s so much more power in self-education. I think there’s so much room for improvement with respect to how we do funding for education in the United States.
So these aren’t facts. What I’m giving you here are my thoughts about the education system. So it’s my relationship with the education system. I think it’s amazing that so many women have gone before me to advocate for women’s rights that paved the way for me to just walk on that path from. I could just go to law school. I became a lawyer. I quit lawyering. I built this business.
I am benefiting from so many people who created so much change from the original education system that was not favorable to women. So I am so grateful for that. I love the education system that exists now, and I think there’s some room for improvement.
So notice that these thoughts that I just gave you aren’t facts. They’re my deliberate relationship with it. That’s really what I want to encourage you to think about. What is it in your life that you tend to talk about or think about? It could be the weather. It could be your city. It could be healthcare or the education system. It could be working and your job. It could be employment in general or bosses in general. Right. Are you someone who always is overworked and complaining about your job and your boss or that one particular coworker?
Take a step back. I don’t want you to use this as a reason to judge yourself or beat yourself up. It’s just an awareness tool for you to see if there are any patterns in your thinking that you haven’t brought awareness to that you might want to change. Same thing with religion and politics. I’m more interested in you thinking about your relationship with religions and political parties that are not your own, right. It’s really easy to have positive thoughts and interpretations about your own religion and your own political views, but what are your thoughts? What is your relationship with people who practice different religions or who are a part of different political parties?
So part of doing this exercise is knowing that your brain always wants to be right. It’s a survival mechanism that really just has your brain looking for all the evidence that you’re right because it thinks that if you are right, you are protecting yourself. You have more certainty and control over surviving in what your brain is interpreting as chaos, right. There’s all this chaos in the world. Your brain is trying to interpret it, and it really wants to be right.
If you know this about your brain, you don’t have to lead with interpreting the world through the lens that you’re always right. I like to say maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong. It takes the pressure off of sometimes what can happen is a little bit of righteousness in thinking that your interpretation must be right. It can be anything from religion and politics to the weather, right.
In the example I gave above, in the example I gave earlier, if you think that you are just right about the fact that in the Midwest there aren’t enough sunny days, you will continue to look for evidence that you are right. And you will live in scarcity that lack and feel kind of bad about where you live and the weather. To me if I want to think deliberately and live more purposefully, that just doesn’t serve me. I love to think that I love the Midwest, right. That serves me so much better.
Now, if I decide you know what? I don’t want to do thought work on the weather. I’m actually just going to move. I love the sun. I love California. I’m going to move. You can do that, but I would rather you do that from a place of consciously knowing that’s what you’re doing. Not from a place of thinking that the weather actually is what determines your relationship with it. You determine your relationship with the weather, with religion, with the education system, with travel.
That’s another one. What’s your relationship like with travel? Do you love it? Do you use it as a way to connect with other people and cultures and expand your experiences of the world? Do you use it as a way to escape your life? Another example is home ownership. What’s you’re relationship like with owning a home? What’s your relationship like with renting?
I remember when I was blogging as a finance blogger and how this was such an important topic to talk about. There are many, many, many varying opinions on whether home ownership is what it used to be and whether real estate is really an investment. I just think that it’s interesting to note how we have totally different thoughts about going into $500,000 of debt in a mortgage than we do going into $500,000 of debt for college than we do going into $50,000 of debt for consumer debt.
None of it is right or wrong. I want you to just increase your awareness of the fact that you get to decide. You get to decide what your relationship is with owning a home, with taking on a mortgage, with any debt. When you start to use your own brain to do this instead of looking to other people and adopting their thoughts, you get so much more confidence.
It takes a little bit more work because your brain has to think, and your brain would rather just pull from something it heard in the past. So if you ever heard Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey or another personal finance professional or expert talk about debt, it’s easier for your brain to pull one of those thoughts about home ownership or debt than it is for your brain to create a new thought. I want to encourage you to take all of those thoughts that your brain has from experts and other people and then question all of it. Like what do you want to think? What’s your relationship like with the home that you have?
I was recently polling all of you on Instagram asking you if I should live in the suburbs or the city. It was fascinating because almost all of the coaches who replied to the poll said that I should do both. That I shouldn’t limit myself. What I loved about that interpretation and that answer was they were showing me that it’s a limiting belief to think that you have to choose one or the other. Why am I even choosing between the two if I can do both?
So as you think about the world, the world very broadly and all of the kind of specific parts of the world that you typically talk about or think about, whether it’s the education system, the news, homes, travel, the beach, the weather. Whatever it is for you. I want you to start to think about how you want to define that relationship. The point is not to think positively about everything all of the time. The point is to see that the way the world is is very different from your interpretation and your relationship with how the world is.
So you can decide deliberately what you want your relationship with the world to be like. That is what I want to encourage you to do. This, my friend, is the power of thought work. That is what I have for you today. I will talk with you next week.
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