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Your Questions Answered #3

Since season three is all about how we can be ourselves, bravely, Jillian has chosen to answer two questions that deal with relationships, because it is hard to be your complete self and set needed boundaries when interacting with other people. 

The first question is about being in a relationship and feeling like you have to keep the other person happy. Often, we may feel like we have the responsibility to protect the people we care about from their own feelings. 

Sometimes we hope to give emotions to other people, to find a person that fulfills us. However, the first reality to understand is that our feelings and emotions start in ourselves and our perceptions of things that happen around us. Therefore, we can’t catch or give emotions; we can’t keep people happy. 

Secondly, we are individually responsible for our own emotions. However, oftentimes people don’t do this. They expect others to rescue them from their own feelings and emotions. They hope for and rely on other people to try and fix things for them, instead of taking ownership. 

“We can try our best, but at the end of the day, healthy, mature, emotionally intelligent people can be responsible for their own emotions.” 

Jillian sees it this way: Let people have their own thoughts. It’s not our job to change what people feel, and we can’t make each other happy. Each person must be responsible for their own happiness, then two happy people can come together and complement each other. 

“Maybe a 3-year-old has a hard time learning how to process their own emotions, but that’s the point of growing up…we eventually learn how to do that.”

If this is something you struggle with, Jillian recommends having an open, honest conversation about it with people who are emotionally safe, stable, and mature. Start practicing with something small—something that isn’t a big issue and won’t result in a big response. 

The second question is from someone who had a failed relationship and is afraid that their second relationship will also fail. A lot of us may feel the same way, and not just in romantic relationships; it can apply to friendships as well. 

“A relationship is a combination of what two people bring to a situation…One person can pour perfectly clear water into a jar, and if the other person pours mud, you’re always going to have mud.”

It’s important to realize that you can have amazing, healthy relationships if you bring your best self and the other person brings theirs. However, if the other person doesn’t, there is no compensating that you can do to fix a broken relationship. 

Relationships do have structure, and working out communication, expectations, conflicts, and boundaries in a relationship are all learnable skills. Many other aspects of relationships are learnable; Jillian learned that there’s even an art to apology after reading a book about the different ways people apologize and respond to apologies. 

Whatever the relationship may be: a friendship, a family dynamic, or a romantic relationship, you can learn it. It doesn’t mean it won’t be hard work; you might have to unlearn some things and do what it takes to help the relationship, but you can keep working on it and will figure it out, one skill at a time.

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