154: Couch Conversations With Evan Ryan Ringler: What We Are Learning, Questions We Are Asking, And New Habits We Are Instilling
As we stay at home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a good time to start a process of introspection and reflect on our realizations in life. Life is a continuous path of learning. In order to move forward, we need to answer questions that we often forget to ask ourselves. What are we learning? What questions are we asking? What new habits are we instilling? Those are just some of the questions you can use to see how you have been living your life and what you can do to improve that experience. Join in as Thane Marcus Ringler has this conversation with his lovely wife, Evan Ryan Ringler. In this casual but powerful Couch Conversations episode, Thane and Evan share their realizations around effective communication, the things that matter, forming new habits, perfectionism, consistency and more.
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Couch Conversations With Evan Ryan Ringler: What We Are Learning, Questions We Are Asking, And New Habits We Are Instilling
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Thank you for that.
What we’re going to do is a candid casual conversation. I thought it would be fun to share a bit of our process as we walk through life individually and collectively as a team. Hopefully, that can encourage others as it encourages us and even helps us think through it. Basically, we are going to ask three questions for each other. The first one, what are you learning the most in life now?
I feel two things are coming to mind. One, how important the community is with the things about COVID and things opening, closing, reopening, and reclosing. There’s been tension with every one of longing to see people in person without fear of getting sick or bringing COVID to them. I think what I’m learning is our need and design for the community. The second is that everyone’s trying to do the best they can. With that, I can speak for myself. I’m quick to criticize or I think I know, why this person said this or why did they think that way? Sometimes it’s as simple as a different life phase. A teenager is going to think differently than I do, and I have thought differently when I was a teenager but everyone, for the most part, is trying to do the best they can.We need to give grace to other people and ourselves. We need to start from the awareness that we are all doing the best we can. Click To Tweet
I did an interview, but in that, one of the things we talked about is that we all think we’re right. If I can keep that in front of my mind more, it would help me so much because we can bring down our guard a little bit of like, “We both think we’re right, and let’s move past that so we can hear each other.”
It doesn’t have to be personal. One of my dear friends is an eight on the Enneagram and not to pigeonhole, but as a helpful tool, the eight is a challenger. They are known for speaking their minds or for challenging your views or what have you. She’s like, “I hate it because many people come to me. They’re like, ‘You’re saying that because you think you’re right.’” She’s like, “That’s what I’m saying that because I think I am right. I wouldn’t be saying it if I didn’t.”
The other thing that was helpful too is the idea with that of, “I may be wrong.” Giving yourself permission to be wrong will naturally allow the other person to give you permission to, or you can even ask them like, “I want to ask or request that you give me the chance to be wrong in this.” That’s a great way to even lower the defenses too and be heard or hear each other better.
That reminded me of my grandpa. He said, “It’s important to ask if you can share your opinion.” Maybe even a step further with, another thing we could do is if someone says whatever their thinking, opinion, or beliefs. When they finished talking, we spit out what we think. Maybe instead we’d pause the process and then ask permission to give our opinion, “Do you mind if I share some thoughts on that?” They are allowing us to come into the conversation instead of us just interjecting, which I thought was beautiful. It is kind of a slower approach.
There’s a great quote from William Ury, who wrote a book, Getting Past No. He said, “Statements generate resistance, whereas questions generate answers,” or even curiosity. How do we ask questions first before making a statement versus the other way round?
What did you think about everyone was trying to do the best they can?
I think it’s true. It helps us understand that everyone’s story is unique. Their experiences are unique. No two human has lived the same life. We’re all plagued by our hurts, traumas, and our experiences because of that. We also view the world from the people who aren’t alive, where we’ve been raised, and the place we grew up. When we understand that we’re all tried the best we can, I love that because we operate from a posture that there’s a good heart within you. I believe that you’re operating out of that until I’m proven differently. That gives people the benefit of the doubt, which I want to at the start until that’s proven different. It helps us know that we need to give grace to people sometimes. I think it’s harder to give yourself grace than it is to give to others, but for us, at least, we share that.
It is hard to give others grace when you can’t give yourself grace. On the flip of that, I don’t think that caused us to be naive. We can still use discernment and know and understand what people are acting out of selfishness, but I like the framework of that person’s probably doing this because they think that’s what’s best. That helps me to reframe it a little bit.
We’re not always right. As you said, there are many times where it’s not true and that’s okay.
What are you learning the most in life now?
One thing that came to mind was about us in the sense that, even last time, we got in, we were unpacking. It’s fun to be more aware of why we do what we do. I am more aware of why I am the person I am because of my background, upbringing, parents, similarities, and all that. Thanks to you for getting to see a different side of that because of your background, parents, experience, and all that. Even something as simple as like after trip, I love to get everything unloaded, organized, and be done with it. It’s not necessarily always the same for you and that’s not again right or wrong. It’s just a different mode and even seeing that was interesting for me. I’ve been realizing that more and what’s cool about that is it’s starting to help me be more flexible to be like, “It doesn’t have to be that way,” because when we come up with a plan, we think it has to be that way. We’ve come up for a reason and there’s a good reason it’s justified and all that. We think our plan is the best. Even when we had a dresser that shipped over. In my mind, I was like, “I would love to leave early so that we can get back so I can get that setup, be done with it, and then move on.”
We’re driving back from Bozeman, which is nine plus hours. Thane wants to drive nine hours and then put the dresser together for two hours.
In my mind, that makes sense, and probably for most people, I don’t know where people fall on that spectrum, but it could sound like a horrible plan. In my mind, the process of going through it, like, “There’s a different perspective on this and that doesn’t sound like a good plan.” “Is that plan important?” “No, it’s not. I can put it together another time.” “I can let that go.” It’s been helpful to go through that process more of like, “It doesn’t matter,” and that’s been helpful for me.
It makes me think because I’ve been processing that too differently that, “Thane isn’t doing this against me if he wants to do something in a different way than I want to do it.” It’s the way he’s always done it and that’s not personal to me. That’s just the way he likes to do it. It’s sweet having a partner and a mirror that show the bad and ugly.
Also, everything in between. There’s another quote, but I can’t remember who said it. It is, “Not taking things personally is a superpower.” That is true. That’s a hard thing to do. We all take things personally that never were intended to be and that’s what gets us all in a lot of trouble.
I am the queen of that. I use to be more so.
We all are in process and I’m with you in that because it’s a journey. That’s probably the main one, but I echo in community with you. I also think what I’m learning most now is how much more peace there is in presence. I’ve been able to do a better job of being more present both with God, with life and with you, hopefully. I feel a lot more peace and a lot more of, “It’s going to be okay,” whatever it is. That’s part of letting go of control too, which is helpful.
I also think that a big part of that is the shout out to my husband, your discipline. I’d thought for a long time that I’m pretty disciplined and I am, but Thane takes it to a whole new tier, which is fun to see and inspiring. Those things lend themselves to that piece that you’re feeling so I am proud of you.In everything you do, ask yourself, 'Does this matter?' Click To Tweet
The second of three questions is, what question are you asking yourself the most now?
The question I’m asking myself the most now is, “Does this matter?” Whether that be a working mail, a text, thinking through inspiration or feeling prompted by the spirit, I am trying to sift it through. Does this matter? What’s the weight of this to me?
I’ve asked myself that too. I can’t pick the same one, but I share that with you.
How have you been asking? When does that come up?
For example, the plan, does this matter? No, it doesn’t. In times, where there may be conflict, disagreement, or there’s emotion involved, whether it be in personal relationships, work or talking about things of faith. Asking that question helps put it in perspective so that A, I can detach emotion from it that shouldn’t be there or that isn’t helpful or B, I can see it more objectively, which is the same thing. The question I’m asking myself the most is, “What’s best?” With where we’re at in life and with where I feel called to, we feel called to, and what we’re working towards, there are lots of unknowns and decisions without clear answers. There’s not a glide path that’s laid out to where we feel called to be. Because of that, it makes it more of a dense and gray. It’s almost a daily process of figuring out what’s the best next step. There are many things to dedicate time to, lots of demands and responsibilities that are good because of that. I want to make sure that I am doing what’s best and I’m not trying to harden that, which is something I struggle with as you know. I even take that before the Lord and being like, “Where do I dedicate the time to? Where do you want me to pour that into? What door do want me to go through?”
That’s good and I’m sure your life is similar from what I know, but I feel that when you look back, you don’t know it’s best most times until you’re ten steps down the path, which is the faith piece. I get that question too.
Finally, what new habit, discipline, or perspective are you working or striving to maintain your life?
You answered that one, first.
The one that I haven’t even put into action yet, but I want to is consistent meditation. I know we’ve talked about it a couple of times and it’s been on the back of my mind for a while, but it’s been trending in the right direction. I’ve been more consistent with quiet space with God in the mornings and that is a game-changer for me. With that, I had a greater connection and spirit-filledness, which is encouraging, but there’s something to the practice and discipline of meditation that I know, without a doubt, I need more of and I’m not doing it. I want to start striving to implement that. Not just maintain it, but I want to create that discipline again because it was there back in the golf days and then I let it slide. I’d love a more consistent practice of that.
That was good. We can do that together.
We’ve got a verbal commitment that we’re doing it together.
We have a little meditation sanctuary down the block which is a cute and cool concept. The discipline I want to implement is more consistency in general. Waking up at the same time, creating quiet spaces in the morning. We talked about this a little bit, but I can almost default to inaction when I feel overwhelmed or if my inner critic is too loud and then it leads me to like, “I don’t feel like I can do anything.” Like you, I share the achiever mindset, but it’s to a point of perfection, “If I do this, it will be done this way and perfect.” It’s harmful when it creates action and when I don’t do something out of the fear of not doing it the best I can or to the best of my ability. I hope that resonates with some people. I’m sure it does and I’ve talked to friends about that before too. I want more consistency and simplicity.
I want to circle back on something else that you brought up. To reinforce what you said, we do all struggle with perfectionism. It’s a human tendency to have that as a default. I talked about that in the interview with a guy. To say that it is a human factor, regardless of your Enneagram number, we all will fall to that. What is the self-talk or reframe that you found to be helpful in those moments when you notice that you’re tending or being held back by this perfectionism?
Awareness is key first of all, to recognize, “Why am I not doing these things?” It then becomes a spiral of like, “I didn’t do this.” It then lends itself to not doing more things so I think of awareness like, “I know why my brain is doing this. It’s because my critic is super loud or I’m trying to operate out of perfectionism and that’s not attainable.” Recognizing it and then adding little steps has been helpful for me like, “I’m going to do these two things consistently.” I trend more on, “Let’s add 50 things to do this week.” I’ll do them perfectly and becomes overwhelming. It is the problem trying to act as a solution. What has been most helpful for me is taking a bite-sized chunk. My mom always said and still does, “How do you eat an elephant one bite at a time?”
Another thing is that the interview with George, he said that it was helpful that someone has helped him with, and that is good is good enough. He also ended by saying, “The reminder that you’re doing better than you think you are.” We need that so much. We need to tell ourselves and other people to tell us, “You’re doing better than you think you are. Give yourself some grace.”
Mel Robbins, who I also love, says something similar. She asks, “Whatever happened to good enough?” I think that’s true. Doing it is more than not doing it.
Usually, the pushback on that is, “At least I’m not trying my hardest or doing the best I can.” That’s not what we’re saying at all. Doing the best you can is good enough. It doesn’t mean to be perfect beyond what the best you can at that moment. Doing the best you can is the same thing as doing good enough. It means you’re giving your effort and all and letting it be.
Sometimes doing the best you can could be an effort. Sometimes if you’re wanting to get out of bed at a certain time consistently, that could look like springing up one morning, running to yoga, everything’s done by 8:00 AM, and you’re ready for the day. It could look like you peel yourself out of bed, but you still get up before the time you get up. You are still doing it.Make consistency a habit. Click To Tweet
Similar to golf, they say the scorecard tells no stories. You could hit it in the trees, barely miss the water, chip up and then make a 10-foot putt for par or you could hit two perfect shots and miss a birdie putt and tap in for par same number. It doesn’t tell any stories. The other thing I want to underscore, I don’t think we’ve talked about on the show, but I have to give a shout out in a brag to my wife for this. It’s one of my favorite things she does. You’ve probably heard it a couple of times, “That’s the key. It’s not but, it’s and.” She’s good at it. Instead of saying, but which that word negates all that you said and gives an opposing feel to it.
Let’s say I have an opinion on something.
“I hear you, but this is my view.” That negates and it creates discredits. Instead of doing that, the habit that my wife has been diligent in building is catching herself, which is awareness and saying, “No, and.” That means, “I hear you. I recognize the validity, whether or not I agree with it. This is my perspective and this is what I have to say or think.” That is such a healthy, helpful practice because whether or not our conscious minds pick it up. A lot of times, we don’t because it’s common, whether or not our conscious minds, our subconscious does. We may not even be aware of it, but our subconscious is saying, “They discredit it. I’m going to come out with even a better argument.” It can be divisive.
It can be in simple statements also of, “I ate a breakfast bar but,” that conjunction is not necessary all the time.
Even in golf, like, “I played a pretty good round, but I hit a couple of bad shots here and there, then lost some strokes.” You are then saying you didn’t play a good round and I do that all the time. It’s another way to show yourself more grace too because a lot of times, I use it against myself even. I’d say, but versus and even when I’m referring to what I’ve done. “It was pretty cool, but I didn’t think it turned out well.” That’s perfectionism too.
Accept the compliment and say, “Thank you.” That could go to what we were talking about with, “I got out of bed every day, this week at the time I wanted to but,” and you did it. “I got out of bed before the time I want to do every day, this week,” and then, “Maybe next week, I want to try this.”
This has been fun. Do you have any closing thoughts?
The one from George, “You’re doing better than you think you are.”
I think we should end that way as well. Until next time, we hope you all have an up and coming week because we out.
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