Updated: Dec 6, 2021
I love talking and writing about relationships. There are so many aspects to them that are worthy of discussion, but today I want to focus on three points that you may have never considered before. First, the concept that relationships only exist inside our heads. Second, we can change a relationship with anybody completely by ourselves without them even being aware of it. Third, we continue to have relationships with loved ones even after they die. This means we have the power to control how we feel about other people regardless of what they do, how they act or if they are even alive!
Okay, let’s start with this concept that relationships exist only in our heads. That usually blows people away the first time they hear it. Our brain needs a second to wrap its head around the concept before we can truly consider the possibility that it could be true. The truth is relationships are not tangible. It’s not like we can look out the window and actually see them or yell to them to come inside. Relationships are just mental constructs in our head about another person. We have a series of thoughts, those generate feelings, those inspire actions and give us the result of our “relationships”. Each person has their own thoughts for the other one and when the thoughts are positive and compatible, it feels like we are in a good relationship. When the thoughts contrast one another or are negative on both sides we usually don’t feel as good about them. What we sometimes forget in relationships is that other people do not make us feel anything; only we can do that with the way we are thinking. Since thoughts are optional, we can decide how we want to feel about other people on purpose at any time.
This leads me to my second point which is that it only takes one person to improve a relationship. As humans, there are always going to be relationships that challenge us and trigger annoyances, fears and insecurities. In fact, some relationships can be classified as abusive and toxic and cause us a great deal of suffering. We feel like it is so difficult to get along with some people and not matter how we may try, we just cannot win. While this is a challenging situation to be in or recover from, the good news is we can change the way we feel about somebody at any time just by changing the way we are thinking about them.
Now, we actually have to believe the new thoughts so we actually feel the emotions in our body. For example, I can’t be furious with my husband over something in the moment and then try to feel better by thinking “I love him,” if I am still focused on the thought that made me mad. I have to believe the new thought to feel better. Perhaps I might think something like, “I have unconditional love for him even when he is a jerk”. If I truly believe this thought, then the feeling from the thought that produced the anger will dissipate and a new feeling will overcome me that feels much better. Another example is when a woman leaves an abusive relationship and is consumed with hatred for the person who mistreated her. She can choose to love that person unconditionally without condoning their behavior for her own healing. The person who hurt her does not even have to know about it. It is so important to keep in mind that when we feel anything about another human, it is only us feeling it. When we feel anger, judgment or pain, they cannot feel any of it. They create their own feelings by the way they think. Since thoughts are optional and trigger our emotions, why not find thoughts that serve us and empower us? The other person does not even have to be aware that you have changed your perception of the relationship if you do not want them to be. This ability to change the way we are thinking about somebody is powerful to all of us in any relationship, but none more so than with our relationships with loved ones who have already died.
We hear all the time when somebody dies that they will live on in our hearts forever. It might sound kind of cliché, but it is also true. While the part about continuing to feel love in our hearts is accurate, the well-versed saying does not mention that the reason for that is because of the way we are thinking about them. Since we can change relationships by choosing how we want to think, we can do that after our loved ones die as well. Many of us live with regrets and beat ourselves up over things we did with loved ones who have died, and it is not serving any purpose other than to torture us. We think we are feeling pain because of something that happened in the past, but the pain is coming from reliving it over and over again in the present moment with our repetitive thoughts. The truth is if we think these thoughts enough times, the pain becomes a part of our subconscious and the “relationship” continues to be a source of suffering for as long as we are alive.
On the other hand, if we choose to focus on thoughts that stem from love and forgiveness, we can heal from a strained relationship with a loved one even after they have died. This is accessible to all of us. It does not always feel that way, but I assure you that you can change the way you are thinking at any time in a relationship. As long as you have a brain and thoughts about yourself and that other person, the relationship is alive and ongoing. Knowing this, why continue to have thoughts that make you feel bad if you can have ones that make you feel good? Why not choose love and light, over pain and darkness? Why not forgive yourself and your deceased love one for being human and having a brain? Why not practice gratitude for the time you have with them instead of rejecting the present moment and living in the past? The reason is because we spend the majority of our life living subconsciously and do not even realize this is an option.
Luckily for all of you readers, you are now aware that there is another way to perceive relationships that is empowering for all of us. We can change them completely on our own by the way we think about others because they only exist in our heads. This is great news because that means we always have the ability to repair a relationship with another person whether they are alive or dead. Join me in Episode 12 of The Brain BS Podcast to explore this further.