What are you willing to sacrifice to improve a relationship with someone? The most common are:
As a child, we learned from our parents to “treat others like you want to be treated“, however they got it all backwards. To have good relationships, we need to treat others the way they want to be treated, keeping our own emotional preferences and projection biases out of the mix. People have a basic need to feel understood. They want you to see things through their eyes. They want you to feel what they feel. They want you to understand their worldview. That can only be accomplished when you sacrifice something.
In fact, I’ve learned what you’re willing to generously sacrifice will be returned to you in abundance beyond your wildest dreams. Not necessarily in a direct reciprocal kind of way, but indirectly at some point from someone. All you have to do is sacrifice, expect nothing in return and keep sacrificing. This happens because of a dynamic I call “relationship goodness”. As your sacrifice your time, money, priorities and ego, each relationship you have will improve. At first, the goodness grows in a proportional, linear manner. Eventually, the goodness created reaches critical mass and from there grows exponentially.
This week, let’s conduct an experiment. First, choose someone with whom you’d like to improve your relationship. Then, choose one thing to sacrifice.
- Time – When they ask you to do something, say “sure” instead of making an excuse why you can’t.
- Money – Buy them a meal, pay for an expense, donate to their charity.
- Priorities – Figuratively speaking, let them “jump ahead of you in line”.
- Ego – (maybe the hardest of them all) Let your ego take a hit for their benefit.
Lastly, keep thinking about other ways you can sacrifice. The more you think about it, the more you will do it. Eventually, it will become second nature because “we become what we think about“.
Write down the results of your experiment:
- What type of reaction did you get from the other person?
- What emotions did they express? How did it make them feel?
- How did it make you feel?
- Would you say your relationship has improved or gotten worse as a result?
When you sacrifice something you care about for what someone else cares about, they feel heard. They feel like they matter. They feel understood. They feel loved.
By doing this, you’re practicing empathy. Your success in life is a function of the mastery of this skill. Why? We’re wired for relationship. God wired us to feel loved.
God has empathy for us. He knows what we struggle with, the habits and additions that hold us back from living the abundant life he wants for us. He wants a good relationship with us so we can feel loved and be healed of those struggles.
Jesus demonstrated for us how to do this, which is why I consider him my role model. Throughout his life, he showed how to sacrifice time, money, priorities and ego to build relationships with people so they could be healed, feel loved and reach their full potential. He was the perfect example of God’s heart.
“I have made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26)
I’d love to hear about the results of your experiment. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below to share them with me. Trust that I will hold them in confidence.