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Let's Play a Game

With the holidays fast approaching, social gatherings will be filling up our calendars. Some we look forward to with a buzzy anticipation while others we may almost dread. Now, I could offer to coach you on those thoughts you are having that are stirring up dread (perhaps this is your sign to sign up for a 1:1 20 minute coaching session!), but for now I want to ask you some questions. I want you to do your best to give your immediate, gut-level response without filtering because this is the only way we get in touch with our real interior experience. It is to the degree that we are honest with ourselves about our internal thoughts, beliefs, associations and understandings that is the degree to which we have a real relationship with the Lord. So, let’s work toward an authentic relationship with God and ourselves with this little practice session.

Here are my questions:

  • Is how someone treats you inside or outside of your locus of control?
  • Is how you think about how someone treats you inside or outside of your locus of control?
  • Is what you think they might be thinking about you inside or outside of your locus of control?

Don’t stress if you aren’t sure how to answer any of these questions, we’ll go through the answers right now after a very brief review of Locus of Control (LOC). Let’s take a look at Matt and Erin’s diagram:

There are two circles to demonstrate our own interior actions and movements for which we are responsible – this is what we call the Locus of Control – the area in which we have proper and ordered authority over what happens in these spaces. Our own LOC consists of our own thoughts, feelings, actions, reactions, decisions, beliefs, choices, preferences, values and desires.

Our LOC never consists of another person’s version of anything on that list, and therefore, those things belong entirely to them. Their thoughts, feelings, actions, reactions, decisions, beliefs, choices, preferences, values and desires reside in their own separate circle as shown above. (Check our Workshop 201: How to Create Healthy Boundaries for a more comprehensive lesson on this topic in the Metanoia Catholic Academy!)

Now, let’s answer those questions.

  • Is how someone treats you inside or outside of your locus of control?

Outside of your locus of control. Someone else’s actions are in their own circle, just like your actions are in your circle. In this interior work, we get to be very specific and slow our perceptions waaaay down. Our minds work so quickly and we make connections so fast that we sometimes take ownership or feel we have responsibility for things that we do not.

Now it is possible that some minds may be thinking, “Hey, that’s not true! I absolutely have a say in how someone does or does not treat me!”, and you are right! You do have “a say”, but because of that person’s free will, you can never have the final say. They are always the one who ultimately chooses how they will treat you or if they will listen to you, and we cannot take that away from them. If we try to, we are breaking our own boundaries and theirs. We violate our own dignity when we overstep our locus of control.  We can influence, yes, but we cannot steer the helm of another man’s ship. We can’t insert ourselves into someone else’s circle without compromising both our God-made design and theirs. We are each made to be the captain of our ship.

   2.  Is how you think about how someone treats you inside or outside of your locus of control?

INSIDE! Wahoo, you are right! We are the only ones who generate our own thinking. It may feel hard to separate ourselves from thoughts that jump to the front of our minds, especially if we’ve been treated in a hurtful or confusing way. But once we are aware of what we are thinking, we can decide whether or not it is a thought we want to keep or reject because we are able to see how that thought is affecting our lives and can determine whether or not it is serving our best interests. (This is where the Reason Cycle will open up your minds to a metanoia moment, and the journal comes into play! If you haven’t yet gone through the Reason Cycle course in the MCA it is so worth it and will help you in your journal work!)

   3. Is what you think they might be thinking about you inside or outside of your locus of control?

Inside! Right again. This can get a bit confusing because in real time, we often think we really do know what someone else is thinking. We are intelligent beings and we are made to draw conclusions based on implicit and explicit evidence but we have to steady this part of our thinking and slow it way down and realize we aren’t able to see that we are making assumptions or jumping to conclusions. Sometimes we can be so sure that this takes a massive act of humility to release a determination, but the thing that Metanoia Catholic teaches us through the Reason Cycle is to determine fact from presumption.

A fact must be able to be proven true, have concrete evidence and/or be 100% true 100% of the time. So, even if we feel it to be so in every fiber of our being (and we might even be right), we cannot stand up in a court of law and say that this person thought a thought…it just isn’t possible and it wouldn’t hold up. So, this is something that we get to relinquish. It’s not reality and it’s none of our business. This can sound a bit harsh, but this is one side of the coin. The other side is where we get to own our feelings, honor our feelings, bring hurt feelings and perceptions and take them to God. Repent where we need to repent. Forgive where we need to forgive. Renounce where we need to renounce. And rest in the truth of who God says you are.

And this is who you are: You are a beautiful human being, made in the image and likeness of God. A man or woman who God made GOOD. Who was made with a mind with which to know and heart with which to seek, know and love all that is Good, True and Beautiful. You honor that dignity when you take these thoughts captive in obedience to Christ, when you own what is yours and release what is not. Do this work and you will start to see, to know deep in your bones, that you are FEARFULLY and Wonderfully made. This is the reality of your existence.

The thing is, if that is true for you, then it is true for me, and it is actually true for that family member who gets under your skin. But chances are, they may not know this amazing truth about themselves. They may not know they are the one responsible for their own thoughts and feelings. They may feel powerless and try to change things outside of their LOC so they can feel better – it’s what most of us naturally tend to do.  

So pray for them, decide ahead of time the goal you have for this relationship and remind yourself of this throughout your interactions. Finally, do your journal work. I guarantee you will be able to show up much freer, more clear-headed and more open to receive the good that comes and let the bad pass over you.

Finally, stay close to Jesus and Mary, remember why you are gathering in the first place and may you have a blessed and holy Holiday season.