Your overbearing mother-in-law. Your entitled step-children. Your friend’s annoying boyfriend. Your micro-managing boss. Your rowdy roommate. We each have someone in our lives who drives us just a little bit batty, and yet with whom we are destined to share the path through life for the foreseeable future. It sure would make our lives a heck of a lot better if we could learn to accept, or even better, love these people instead of dreading them. The question is, just how do you DO that?
Sign Up For Your Love Apprenticeship!
November 20, 2012 by 10 Comments
Answer: find someone who loves them, and have that person teach you. After all, if you wanted to learn to appreciate art, you’d take an art history class. If you wanted to learn a trade, you would apprentice yourself to a master. So too, if you want to appreciate a person, you apprentice yourself to someone who loves them.
For example, a good friend of mine, whom I will call Chris, married a woman whom I initially didn’t like. Chris’s wife rarely came out socially, and seemed to have no desire to get to know Chris’s friends. She worked seven days a week, and thus left Chris alone on weekends, which made me feel outraged on Chris’s behalf. To top it all off, Chris’s wife seemed to be a highly opinionated and critical person. I couldn’t understand why Chris had chosen this woman, and yet because I loved Chris as my friend, this woman was now a fixed part of my life.
Like many people, I initially tried to deal with my dissatisfaction by gossiping about her with my other friends, who felt similarly. While that felt fun in the short-term, it was a destructive type of fun that ultimately made me more unhappy with Chris’s wife, and feeling justified in my dislike of her. Not good.
So I tried another approach: I interviewed Chris about why he chose her and loves her. What Chris told me forever changed my view of his wife. He explained how much he loved her passion, and how amazing it felt to be one of the people she was passionate about. He told me that she was dazzlingly creative, and she would crack him up with her stories and songs. He admired her drive for being the best she could be, and how she wanted everything she touched to be great, including their relationship.
The next time I saw Chris with his wife, I looked at her and their dynamic through the lens of what Chris had told me. Suddenly, it all made sense. I wouldn’t choose to have a partner like Chris’s wife, myself, but I could appreciate her for the things that made her special – the things my friend Chris loved in her. I stopped bristling at her critical comments, and instead saw her passionate quest for greatness. I started picking up on her witty comments, and had to admit that they were pretty funny. Chris had taught me how to appreciate his wife. My apprenticeship was complete.
Here’s your challenge: pick one person who annoys you, but whom you would like to learn to love. Find the perfect teacher and set up your own Appreciation 101 course. Graduation date: Dec 31, 2012. I dare you.
Dr. Samantha Sutton is a Senior Coach and Vice President and Director of Courses and Seminars at The Handel Group®. Samantha designs and leads the Handel Group’s® flagship workshop, the Life Coaching Crash Course. Samantha additionally coaches at universities such as Stanford and MIT. Prior to becoming a coach, Samantha received a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT.