I’m so happy to share this conversation about overcoming defensiveness with Lisa Merlo-Booth. I’ve had the good fortune to work with Lisa and help her in her business and last spring I offered to help her with a workshop she was hosting. During the middle of this workshop I had a breakthrough that I actually needed this class and we’re talking about what I learned about myself. Lisa is a relationship coach and a specialist in helping improve communication between partners. Her work has improved my life so much and I really wanted her to come and talk about it for everyone to learn how it could perhaps improve your life too. Enjoy.
Lisa shares with us her insights:
- You can change. You have to be willing to look at yourself. And most people are looking at the other people in their life, and saying – ‘Look, if you didn’t yell at me, I wouldn’t cower. Or if you weren’t, you know, controlling me all the time, I wouldn’t yell. And so they’re constantly trying to get the other person to change which is where they have zero power. And so, once they realize- ‘Okay, wait a second’. I have a saying – Changing me changes we. So changing me will change your marriage; changing me, will change your children; changing me will change your life right? And what people do, though, is they want to change the other person thinking if you would stop doing … we would be okay. And I wouldn’t have to do what I’m doing. Right? So you just stop, and then it’ll fix us. First off, you could wait till hell freezes over before they decide they want to stop. Right and that’s a lot of wasted years. And two, you can’t make them do anything. And so, once people realize where their power is and they start focusing in the right place that their change can really happen quick.
- So if you’re unhappy in some situation, you have the power to change it. I have a saying – You are one hundred percent responsible for the life you create; the life you allow; or the life you sabotage. So what are you doing? If you have this vision, I want us to be a great family, a great couple. I want my business to be wonderful. You know, run smoothly. What are you doing? What are you allowing that is going against that vision. Or, what are you doing that is actively sabotaging that vision? You have control of all that.
- So I don’t know, you know, it’s funny. I struggled with defensiveness for a long time. And as I worked through it and got better, I don’t know if this is, if you are feeling this at all. But right now, like now, it is so freeing to be like – ‘Oh, my gosh, my bad! I’m so sorry’. It’s like I just feel it’s like oxygen and I don’t feel that like toxic shame. I’m just like, you know, like – ‘Oh, I screwed it up again. Oh, my gosh! I promise I’m going to fix this like and it feels lighter to me. And my family can talk to me and like – ‘Yeah, it’s just such a, I don’t know. It’s like a weight gets lifted because you have the template. You know how to do it, and you also, I don’t know, you just start to realize – ‘Oh, everybody screws up.’ It’s like the human condition. You absolutely cannot not screw up. And that’s not the problem actually. You’re screwing up isn’t the problem. The problem is doubling down on that and pretending you didn’t screw up or not having the conversation, because you don’t want it. So then, it just goes underground and becomes a bigger mess up. But as far as like humanity and relationships and jobs, I got news for you. You are going to screw up so much, so much. And to be able to say like – ‘You’re right. I really mess that up. It’s so freeing’.
- It actually brings you closer. It’s more intimate. It’s crazy. It’s like – ‘Oh, yeah, I hurt you.’ And then, they’re like – ‘Oh, I feel so loving towards you right now.’ It’s like a crazy irony, you know. And of course, you know there’s a whole way of doing it. But it truly is like when you know your partner is able to, or best friend or mom, or whoever they’re able to hear the feedback, own it like, own their piece, without any blame or anything else. You genuinely. You feel heard. You feel closer. And you’re like – ‘Oh, wow!’. And by the way, they look tougher, stronger. It’s just so much more capable. And you’re like – ‘Oh, they can handle it.’ Oh, no, I can say that to my mom. She’s got this yeah, instead of them protecting you by not saying it. It’s a crazy irony. But you actually it feels more intimate when you’re able to find the courage to own your actions than it does to deny them.
- Everywhere. But I can’t think of a place where there isn’t natural conflict. That’s the other thing like natural. We’re human beings. We make mistakes. The moment you make a mistake; the moment you hurt somebody; the moment, you say you’re going to pick up the milk and you don’t. You say you’re going to be at work on time, and you’re not at work on time. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed. And you’re human. Those issues are going to come up. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care how amazing you are, you still can’t be perfect. And so you know we need instead of running from conflict, we need to go into it, and then we’ll walk through it and feel better because of it. But our world does not see it as that at all. We, many people see feedback as an attack, right? And oh, my goodness, think of the freedom you would have and feel if you saw, I say feedback as a gift. If you literally saw feedback as oxygen to help you grow, and like was, and you know, encouraged it. It’s just life changing.
Lisa Merlo-Booth is a straight-talking and highly effective transformational relationship coach, author, and speaker. She has over twenty years of experience in the field of therapy and relationship coaching and is known for her straight talk on relationships in the home, at work, and in the culture at large. Her title is Counter-Culture Relationship Expert.
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