By Broc Jahnke
Wouldn’t it be nice to thrive in your relationships at home, at work, and in the public? For years I would have some success thriving, but inevitably I would find myself back in some sort of dysfunction because I would discover the character flaws in those around me. My marriage was always just okay, my work relationships were never quite right, and don’t get me started on those obnoxious parents at my kid’s sporting events.
Everyone else was always the problem. If my boss could just lead better. If my wife would just think like I thought. If the coach would just get more training. If my coworkers would just trust me more. Signs of heavy dysfunction to slight dysfunction shrouded every relationship in my life. I saw other people around me doing well in their relationships, so why couldn’t I do better?
Eventually I discovered a concept that began my journey of getting closer to thriving in relationships. “You can’t change other people, you can only change yourself. So, the best way to thrive in relationships is to draw a circle around yourself and fix everything inside that circle.” (Matthew 7:1-5 in the Christian New Testament). So, the best piece of advice I could ever give myself in order to thrive is to make sure I am in the best spot in life through asking myself what it is about me that needs to change or grow—not asking that about others. As I stopped focusing on changing those around me and focused on changing myself, progress slowly but surely started to happen.
It’s exhausting trying to change others. It’s nearly impossible to change others. It’s short-sighted and selfish to try and change others. Trying to change others is control. But trying to change yourself so that you can relate better to those around you? That is love.
If you are sick and tired of not thriving in all the relationships that surround you, then turn unselfishly inward. Make focusing on you the top priority. Here are some steps I have taken to change myself:
Go and see a professional therapist for a few sessions. A lot of times there are things in our past that keep us locked into certain negative behaviors. If you figure out what those hurts and ruts are, then often you can break your cycle of hurt and pain.
Read. If we stop learning then we stop growing.
Read. If we stop learning then we stop growing. A lot of people say to me that they are not readers so they just can’t learn. If that is the case then listen to audio books, take an online class, or listen to podcasts. Just do something that causes you to think more deeply and caringly then you do now. This is a must.
Focus on your spiritual life. If we can get in touch with a God that has all the compassion, power, and wisdom to change us then we really must focus on that source. A few moments of consistent focus on the spiritual can bring great calm, focus, and peace.
Exercise. Maybe exercise for you looks like a walk, a workout, or joining a gym. Whatever it is, this is one of the best ways to deal with stress, anxiety, anger, and negative emotions.
I have got to resist the temptation to isolate and I must find myself in a community setting that focuses on growth. A book club, an exercise group, a small group at church, or taking a class. These are hallmarks of people that change and thrive.
So, if your relationships are struggling, then most likely it is you that has the issue. Besides, even if it’s not you, there is very little you can do about it. Thrive—it all starts with you.
Broc Jahnke is on staff at Hope Fellowship and gets to work with individuals and couples on their journey toward health and wholeness. Hope Fellowship is a non-denominational church with campuses in the Little Elm, Frisco, Prosper, and McKinney areas. Broc also has a podcast called “The Mindful Marriage Podcast.” Download the Hope Fellowship app and click on the resources tab to find it.