It doesn’t matter whether you’re an accounting employee or an entrepreneur, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, or whether you live alone or are part of a large family, relationships are just a part of life. Relationships form the connections we have with others and, whether you realize it or not, are incredibly important for our overall well being and happiness.
The thing when it comes to relationships is that they can not only give us pleasure, but they also influence our long-term health by either causing our brains to release feel good hormones like dopamine, or stress producing hormones like cortisol. So for accountants, if you want to have fewer health problems, get more work done, as well as experience less stress, addressing your relationships can actually be a great place to start.
Interestingly, as humans we are hardwired to form relationships with others for our survival and for the continuation of the species. As humans have evolved from primitive cave dwellers, we have needed to create connections with others in order to have a better chance of surviving by learning, teaching and supporting each other for the greater good.
In our modern times, relationships are still important for our survival – whether it’s a personal relationship with a partner, child, or friend, or a professional relationship with a colleague or client, you most likely have a lot of different relationships with various people in your life. I’m also going to bet that not all of your relationships are exactly the way you want them to be.
Maybe you wish your relationship with your partner was less stressful and more connected, supporting, and loving. Or perhaps you would like your relationship with a particular client or colleague to be less demanding and more easy going and collaborative.
The truth is that ignoring relationship issues doesn’t make them go away. For example, just because you pretend to like your mother-in-law when you’re in her company doesn’t mean that your true feelings for her don’t affect you in various ways, not only personally, but also professionally.
You might be thinking “Why would my not-so-great relationship with my mother-in-law affect me professionally?” Honestly, you would be surprised by how much your personal relationships affect you professionally and vice versa, which I’ll explain in a little bit.
Thankfully, no matter who the relationship is with or what you believe the problem is, learning a better way to handle any relationship is an incredibly important skill you can learn and apply. I can tell you from experience that when your relationships improve, life just gets simpler, there’s less drama, and you are able to be happier and much more productive.
The funny thing is that as accountants, we’re so used to focusing on better time management from the perspective of our calendars, but you might be interested to know that your relationships are affecting your ability to get more done in less time, more than you might realize. Your relationships are having an impact on your work as an accountant in so many interesting ways, which is why it’s important that you understand the connection.
As you gain a better understanding of what really creates your relationships and how to improve any one, you’ll be able to connect the dots between how the relationships in your life affect so many areas of your life. By connecting those dots, you’ll have a much deeper impact on your accounting career and on your personal life as well.
This week I’m going to discuss what really creates our relationships and how to improve yours.
What really creates our relationships
First let me say that so much of what I work on with my coaching clients comes down to one important topic – relationships. Not only do we work on relationships with others, but more importantly, we also work on their relationship with themselves.
But the issue that I see is that most of us don’t really talk about what really creates our relationships, or truly understand what makes up a relationship. In order to illustrate this, if you can imagine a drawing with two stick figures, most of us see relationships as us being one stick figure, another person being another stick figure, and the relationship is the space, or the connection, in between the two.
But what we’re missing in this rudimentary description for what a relationship is, is the most important piece – our thoughts about each other. The #1 thing missing from our stick figure illustration of us and another person, or another thing, is the thought bubbles above each of our heads – that is what really creates our relationships.
The most important thing I want you to understand when it comes to relationships is that our relationships are created in our brains by the thoughts we have about other people. What creates a relationship on your end is the thoughts you have about the other person, and vice versa.
The reason this is SO important to understand is because whenever there are problems in a relationship, the place to begin is with your own thoughts. In essence, whenever we’re looking at what’s created in our lives, including our relationships with others, we always have to go to what we are thinking first and foremost.
Here’s why – your thoughts create the feelings you have, those feelings fuel the actions you take or don’t take, and then those actions are what produces the results that you have in your life. Therefore, every relationship in your life is good, bad, or neutral, based on the thoughts your brain thinks.
While most of us want to blame, or credit, other people for the way we feel, it’s actually OUR job to take responsibility for the thoughts and feelings we’re having. The only reason we’re experiencing the relationships in our lives the way we’re experiencing them, is because of the bubble above our own head, not because of anything they do, don’t do, say, or don’t say.
The secret to rescuing any relationship is understanding that every relationship you have with a person, place, or thing is based on your thoughts about that person, place, or thing. No matter what state your relationships are in, no one and nothing is ever creating your relationships – that’s 100% all you.
This really is the best news because that means you don’t need to change or control anyone in order to improve any relationship. You don’t even need the person to be alive in order to improve your relationship with someone because your relationships were never created by someone else’s participation – they were only created by your brain.
So while it’s completely normal to want others to change or to try to control their behavior so that you can feel better, that puts all the focus and responsibility on them. That just leads to outsourcing your feelings to another person, believing that if they were different, you could feel different.
Whether the relationship is great or not, whether it needs improving or not, every relationship you have is created by your brain and thankfully can be improved by your brain. When you become aware of and acknowledge the truth of that, that’s when you can improve or rescue any relationship.
How to improve your relationships
It doesn’t matter whether your relationship is with a person, a pet, or even a company, again every relationship you have is based on the thoughts you have. The reason I keep repeating this and why it’s the key to improving any relationship is because it means you can do the work without anyone needing to do anything differently.
I understand that this can be confusing because we’re so used to believing that other people’s actions or inactions are what’s contributing to the state of our relationship with them, but that’s actually not the case. Unfortunately we set ourselves up for disappointment when we put other people in control of our feelings, believing that we would feel better if they changed or did what we wanted them to do.
The issue is that it’s so unnecessary and disempowering to go about your life like that. People have free will to do what they do and the quicker we accept that it’s perfectly okay, the better our relationships will be.
So the first step in improving a relationship is to get clear on who you believe is making you feel mad, sad, frustrated, etc. Start with one person in your life that you believe, if they would just be different, then you could feel better and the relationship would improve.
If you can, write down the story you tell yourself about them. What are the repetitive thoughts that you think about that other person? What are the thought bubbles above your head?
When I did this work, I definitely had a few people that I could have chosen to work on my relationship with, but just recently I decided that I would work on my relationship with one of my bosses. I kept thinking that he was too dramatic, too emotional, and too high strung so I wrote down all the repetitive thoughts I had about him.
So once you’ve written down the story you tell yourself about the other person, the second step is to now ask yourself, if they behaved the way you believe they should, how would that make you feel? For example, would you feel connected, valued, respected, or maybe loved? How would you feel if they were different?
In my example, I believed that if my boss behaved the way I believed he should, I would feel more peaceful and focused at work. I would also feel less judgemental if he just stopped doing what he kept doing.
Here’s the interesting thing – if you think about it, when you believe that you would feel a certain way because of another person, then it’s understandable that you would want to control or judge their behavior. If you believe your feelings are caused by them, it’s no wonder you want them to change, just like I wanted my boss to change.
But the problem is that when we have thoughts about other people, and what they should or shouldn’t do to improve our relationship with them, we typically wind up mirroring their behavior. When that happens, we end up producing what we’re upset at them about.
In my example with my boss, if I’m bothered by him because I believe he’s being too high strung, I might feel annoyed. From feeling annoyed, I would probably try to ignore him, get my work done as quickly as possible in order to avoid him, and spin in my head with negative thoughts and judgements about him.
The result for me is that I end up being too high strung myself. When my brain chooses to believe he’s being too high strung, I wind up being high strung in the way I think, act, and react towards him.
In this example the feeling was annoyed, but the same applies in a relationship where you feel love. The feeling of love is not created by your partner, your children, or anyone or anything else – it’s created by your brain having thoughts about them that creates the feeling of love.
Honestly, you could give yourself so much power to improve any relationship when you just assume that other people are NOT going to be different than they are, so now what? Whatever you were wanting to feel if they DID change is available to you now based on how you intentionally choose to think.
Therefore, the final step is to decide how you want to think about the other person, that would create the feeling you want, without them changing. Choose a better story about them, and practice that new story.
For my situation, I wanted to feel peaceful and focused at work which meant that I would need to choose a better story about my boss in order to create those feelings. Therefore, the better story I chose to think about him is that he’s always doing the best he can based on what’s going on in his mind and that he has a lot on his plate to be high strung about.
Here’s the best part when you take these three steps to improve any relationship – you don’t even need to speak to someone about your relationship in order to improve it because the state of the relationship never had anything to do with them. I cannot tell you how liberating it is when you realize that the bubble above your head is optional and that it’s the only thing that’s creating the relationships you have.
Besides my relationship with my boss, I have improved, or at least I know I can improve, my relationship with every person in my life, people that are no longer in my life, with my pets, with work, with inanimate objects – you name it. The best part is that no one needs to know because it’s completely an inside job.
My children don’t have to return my text messages in order for me to feel connected; my dogs don’t need to stop barking in order for me to feel peace; my ex-husband doesn’t need to be in my life or even speak to me in order for me to feel appreciated. Once I decided to change the thought bubbles above my head, every relationship that I chose to improve did.
But here’s one of the best parts about improving relationships for accountants – it frees you up to be so much more productive and efficient at work! When you improve your relationships, you are no longer weighed down by the heaviness and the mind drama that happens when your relationships are an issue.
Again, ignoring relationships doesn’t help either because your brain is still producing thoughts – they just may not be front and center in your awareness, but don’t kid yourself, they’re there. Improving your relationships will rewire your brain in order for you to feel better, and when you feel better, you do better work.
I can tell you that by focusing on improving my relationship with my boss, I have also increased my productivity and efficiency. It’s still a work in progress because the old story that I have about him likes to pop up in that thought bubble above my head, but when I’m aware of it, I also know I can choose differently and practice my new and improved story.
So hopefully you now have a better understanding of what really creates our relationships and how to improve yours. I’m excited for you to see how much will change for you both personally and professionally as an accountant, when you see the power you have to have the relationships you really want.
- If you want to have fewer health problems, get more work done, as well as experience less stress, addressing your relationships can be a great place to start.
- Thankfully, no matter who the relationship is with or what you believe the problem is, learning a better way to handle any relationship is an incredibly important skill you can learn and apply.
- The funny thing is that as accountants, we’re so used to focusing on better time management from the perspective of our calendars, but you might be interested to know that your relationships are affecting your ability to get more done in less time, more than you might realize.