This guest article was written by Ellen Hartson, Ellenhartson.com
If you are interested in the most important area or topic that a relationship coach can help you with, then keep reading to learn about a concept that will really help you with your boundaries. This is something I use on myself all the time, so I know you will benefit from using it!
So much of our suffering comes from being in other people’s business. We spend so much of our energy thinking about the ‘other person’s’ actions or non-actions. The other person can be our partner, our child, our parent, friend, coworker, boss or even a stranger. While it is true that other’s actions and behaviors will impact us, the best way to minimize our suffering and keep ourselves strong is to pay attention to our reference point.
The concept of a reference point is a visual tool that I use to represent two important things:
1. The focus of my attention
2. The source of my well-being
I use the visual of a circle or disc, but you can use whatever works for you. The idea is to keep your reference point above your head.
There are so many ways this tool can be helpful. Here’s an example:
Most people will experience at least one major breakup in their lives, and for many of us it will be several. This can be one of the most painful experiences in life because it involves loss. The truth is that loss is painful. It is supposed to be. As adults, we are supposed to be able to withstand the clean pain of loss and heal and move on (as opposed to dirty pain, which is caused by our thoughts about the loss). The biggest deterrent to healing and moving on is when we keep our reference point on the ‘lost love’. Let’s look at Julie:
Julie was recently saddened by the ending of a two-year relationship with a man she dearly loved. How Julie is dealing with the breakup is the problem. Everyday she thinks about him and tries to figure out why he did this, why he did that, why he said this, what did it mean…. While we can all relate to some degree of this after a breakup, Julie kept her constant focus on him. So she kept him as the focus of her attention. She also believed that she couldn’t be happy without him. She was seeing him as the source of her well-being. Julie had her reference point over his head.
Here’s how Julie used the reference point as a tool. Each time she would ‘catch herself’ focusing her thoughts on her ex, she would check in and ask herself, “Where is my reference point?” She also asked her support system to point it out to her when she was talking about him continuously. Then she would picture it over his head and symbolically pull it back over her own head. This meant that she would shift her focus to herself by asking herself two powerful questions:
1. What am I feeling right now?
2. What do I need right now?
Julie learned to resist her first impulse to identify a need that she wanted him to meet and practiced how to meet her own needs. When she felt lonely, she reached out to someone who was available to connect with. When she felt overwhelmed, she rested.
The more she practiced shifting the focus back onto herself whenever she noticed her mind obsessing on him, the easier it got. And the more she practiced how to be the source of her own well-being, the more she healed from this loss. As she got stronger in her knowing that she was her own source, Julie was able to attract a great new love into her life.
The most important take away is this:
Anytime you are going over and over in your mind thinking about what another person did or didn’t do, or what they might or might not do or say, you have your reference point over the other person.
That means you are not practicing healthy boundaries. You are in their business. Often, the reason we do this is as a way of avoiding focusing on ourselves. Because when you bring your reference point back to you, you are willing to get real. You are taking ownership of your feelings. And you are taking responsibility for yourself. Can you think of any area of your life where you need to bring your reference point back over your head? Are you ready to own it?
Ellen Hartson, (www.ellenhartson.com) combines her 20+ years experience as a coach and therapist with her intuition and passion for connecting with her clients. Ellen teaches women how to overcome their internal barriers to love, so they can have amazing relationships, starting with themselves first! She teaches them how to rewrite their “love story” using her powerful 4-step process. You can listen to Ellen’s mini-class and get her worksheet download by going to http://www.ellenhartson.com/find-the-relationship-you-deserve/