Hey guys, welcome back. On this show, I really like to focus on things you can control. It’s pretty logical, right? Why focus on the things you can’t control? That’s a waste of energy, makes you feel powerless, and doesn’t move the needle at all. Not to mention we end up obsessing over those things – even though we can’t change them.

But one of my superpowers is helping you change your story. The story you tell yourself and others about your partner and your relationship in general matters so damn much. In fact, it’s more important than some of the facts of your relationship. Today I am going to teach you how to change your story and then I’m going to show you how it’s done using my marriage story. So, let’s get into it.

I want you to think for a moment – how do you describe your partner and your marriage in your head? What kinds of words do you use? And what about when you’re describing your partner or your marriage to others? Is your verbiage negative and full of self-pity? Are you speaking like a victim? Are you putting your partner down? Are you speaking with distaste and resentment? Or are you speaking with compassion and open-mindedness… with a faithful or solution focused approach?

In the coaching world, there is a concept called reframing. The term comes from the tangible act of taking a picture out of one frame and replacing it with a nicer one. The picture itself stays the same, but in its new frame, it just looks different. It pops and catches your eye off the wall. It changes the experience of looking at this picture.

This is a process that can literally save your marriage. And it will definitely save you pain and unnecessary suffering. So, how do we do it? I mean it sounds like a great idea but if you’ve been thinking and saying the same things for years, you may not know how to change it.

I’m going to teach you the tool that I use both in my personal life and with my clients. It’s a tool I call The Debate Team Technique. If you’ve been on a High School debate team, then you know that how it works is that the teacher puts you on one side of the argument and you need to debate that side. You need to give evidence; you need to be passionate and enthusiastic. You need to prove and convince that your side of the argument is true.

But then the teacher says SWITCH! And now you need to debate the other side of the argument just as vehemently and with just as much evidence. How is this possible?

Well, the human brain is a beautiful thing that we can use to our advantage once we know how to. It’s a computer. But it’s got some old programming running from back in the day and it needs to be updated big time. It needs a new frame. But once you learn how to install that new software, it all of a sudden starts working FOR you instead of tripping you up because its so outdated.

Your brain will find what it’s looking for. It’s your job to challenge it to look for something that will benefit you. So if your brain is programmed to find everything your husband does wrong, it will constantly come through with evidence. But if your brain is programmed to find the good, find the lessons, find the opportunities for growth – then it will find that.

So, before I show you how its done, let me give you some prompts you can use to do this yourself:

  1. How might this be happening for me and not to me?
  2. How can I use this situation to grow and become a better version of myself?
  3. What can I learn here?
  4. How can I think about this differently?

There are many other questions I ask my clients to help them start reframing “difficult” situations but those four are pretty solid.

I want to illustrate the Debate Team Technique and its efficacy by getting personal with you. I’m going to tell you my marriage/parenting story twice. Once I’m going to tell it to you from a place of anger, victimhood, and resentment. Then I’m going to tell you the exact same story but in a different frame – a frame of gratitude, acceptance, and joy.

So here’s the first version: I married a guy who tricked me into thinking he was a good healthy dude when actually he was not. He was an addict and relapsed shortly after I gave birth to our son. He put the baby in danger by bringing drugs around him, he put my recovery in jeopardy by bringing drugs around me, and he chose drugs over us. I left him after I found out he was having an affair with his ex. He went off to be with her and get high while I became a solo parent overnight.

I had to figure everything out while in deep anger and pain. I had to pay all the bills, figure out childcare, deal with everyone who wanted to know what the hell happened, all while staying sober and healthy. Everything is on me. When he’s sick or sad, I’m the only one here to tend to him. When he’s acting up, I’m the disciplinarian. When he’s struggling in school, I’m the one talking to the teachers. I juggle all the responsibilities of parenthood while running a business. We haven’t heard from him in years. It’s all on me.

Ok, now here is my second version of that same exact story: I fell in love with a great guy who ended up having many demons from before I met him. We met at a healthy time in our lives but unfortunately it didn’t stay that way for him. He struggled to stay sober and shortly after we had a baby, he relapsed. He tried to get sober several times but wasn’t able to sustain it. He was in a lot of pain and acted it out through drugs and women.

Amazingly, event though we had a couple instances where he brought drugs around me and the baby, I stayed sober and was able to make healthy choices to protect the baby. I turned to God and my support system, strengthened my relationship with myself, and didn’t take responsibility for him. Months later, when I found out he was having an affair, I had the clarity and self-respect to leave him that day. Since then, I’ve had the physical and emotional space to focus on me and my son. It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from him but we are thriving because the unhealthy family member has been removed which means we get to live a healthy life every single day. I’ve learned so much about myself, my values, my worth, and what I’m willing to tolerate.

I now have the honor of being this little boy’s person. We have a very cool dynamic where there is only one parent and one child – no others dynamics to interfere. As a result, we are super close and have tons of fun. He is thriving because I am thriving. I’ve never been happier or healthier. Looking back, I can see how this whole thing happened for me.

Do you hear the difference in those two stories? I didn’t change any of the facts. I didn’t change the actual picture. I just put a new frame around it. Some of the things I said in that second version I believed before I said them. And some of them I started intentionally saying and then my brain followed. CBT at its best.

By the way, if you want to learn how my story relates to my coaching, you can listen to episode 25 titled How My Failed Marriage Turned Me Into a Badass Coach. I’ll link that for you below.

So, what story are you telling about your partner and your marriage? And using the Debate Team Technique, how can you argue for the other side? The side where you’re not a victim and you’re not bitter. Use the questions I gave you earlier and start playing with it. You don’t need to go all the way in the other direction like I did, you can just start by telling your story a little bit more neutrally. From there, it will grow, I promise.

One last thing – and this is for my spiritual sisters. If you’re like me, then you believe that everything happens for a reason. If you believe this to be true, then it makes sense to start looking for those reasons. It may be that the reason is for you to get closer to God and to yourself. That’s good enough for me. From there, I can expand my mindset to see how.

If this type of thought work intrigues you, I want you to know that I am starting a group class soon where I will be teaching all of these tools in a small, intimate group and enhancing it with some 1:1 time in between. If you want some more info, scroll down to the show notes and book a free consultation with me. I’ll tell you all about it and we’ll figure out whether you’re a good fit.