Are you living free?
Many people would say “no” to that question.
On paper, we may look free: we have places to live, friends and loved ones to hang out with, and endless opportunities when it comes to careers. Still, on the inside, we feel overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, and anger. No matter how hard we try to control our lives, we end up feeling more and more out of control.
We tell ourselves we’re not enough. With this low self-esteem, we self-sabotage relationships, opportunities, and other good things in our lives. Suddenly, it feels like we’re living in a self-made prison of negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, and painful memories.
Even if you had all the money in the world, if you don’t feel like you’re enough on the inside, you won’t be happy — and you certainly won’t be free.
How do we become free then? How do we break out of negative thought patterns, toxic relationships, or careers that only hold us back? How do we live a life of purpose and joy, with the freedom to make our own decisions and be happy?
Today’s guest wrote a book on this very subject. I’m so honored to welcome DeVon Franklin back to The School of Greatness to tell us how we can stop living in chains and start having healthy relationships with ourselves and the people around us.
DeVon Franklin is a Hollywood producer, New York Times bestselling author, renowned preacher, motivational speaker, and a great friend of mine. You may have heard of some of DeVon’s best-known films, Heaven is for Real, or his film, Breakthrough, which stars Chrissy Metz from This is Us. Or maybe you’ve heard of Miracles from Heaven starring Jennifer Garner, which is the highest-grossing faith-based film of all time.
In other words, he’s a big deal.
DeVon is also a fantastic writer and the author of several bestselling books. He and his wife, actress Meagan Good, co-authored The Wait. DeVon Franklin’s books also include The Success Commandments, Produced by Faith, and The Truth About Men.
On May 4, 2021, DeVon Franklin released a new book, Live Free, in which he teaches you how you can live free from unnecessary stress and anxiety by learning to set your own expectations rather than accepting those imposed on you by culture, career, and relationships.
In addition to being an incredibly creative and inspirational force globally, DeVon is an accomplished businessman. He’s the president and CEO of Franklin Entertainment, which recently signed a deal to become part of the 20th Century Fox family of companies.
And finally, DeVon Franklin is a prominent motivational speaker. With appearances on The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Dr. Phil, CBS This Morning, Entertainment Tonight, and more, it’s no wonder he’s one of the most highly sought Christian speakers out there! Beliefnet even named him one of the “Most Influential Christians Under 40.”
But aside from being a prolific content creator, inspirational speaker, writer, and social media influencer, DeVon is a great human being. He is committed to loving his wife and modeling healthy relationships and healthy manhood to everyone who watches him. He’s a true inspiration to me as well. I had him on The School of Greatness back on Episode #769 and Episode #409. Each time, I learn something valuable about relationships. Today’s episode was no different!
DeVon is ready to share the biggest myths about relationships with you all!
Love is a common theme in movies and books. Yet, how often do we see the end of the story? It’s not just about falling in love: It’s also about staying that way. That’s because, in reality, relationships are hard work — even when they’re great. This is the first thing that Devon wants to expose as the truth behind the myths of love and marriage.
“We have been sold a myth that love heals all and that marriage is the answer…The truth is marriage is the beginning of the mountain. To get to the summit, you need to know it’s going to be a challenging journey. There are times that it can be hard to breathe. The roads to the way up are jagged, and it’s never a smooth ride.” – DeVon Franklin
So, you might ask, if this is what marriage and love are all about, then what makes these “happily-ever-after” myths so convincing? Social ideals? The way romance is portrayed in the media?
Regardless of why these myths might persist, they still hurt relationships by making us believe the relationships themselves are all we need to make us feel happy and fulfilled. Devon points out that this misconception can sometimes lead us to manipulate our partners in order to get what we think we deserve. Thus, he reminds us of one of the most essential purposes of relationships.
“The purpose of a relationship is for individuals to contribute so that it enriches the lives of both persons… The myth that marriage will create your happiness is not true. It can enhance it only if you already have it.” – DeVon Franklin
He adds that, when each partner focuses on what they can contribute to the relationship (rather than what they can gain from it), they end up having a shared purpose. That shared purpose helps foster a connection that can help them stay together.
Devon Franklin breaks another relationship myth — that a person can make another person happy.
“What happens when you say someone makes you happy? It means you are outsourcing your happiness to that person. Because that same person can make you mad, too. This puts the other person in control of how you feel…And the thing is, someone outside of us can’t perfectly contribute to our happiness 24/7.” – DeVon Franklin
I also believe that when we rely on another person to make us happy, we are setting ourselves up for a lot of pain. That’s because inevitably, that person will fail us, whether they intend to or not.
The last myth about love that DeVon debunks is this:
“Love is great, but love is not enough. It is not everything you need…You need compatibility.” – DeVon Franklin
Have you ever broken up with someone because, although you feel as though you love them, you also just don’t feel compatible?
This is what DeVon Franklin is talking about. It takes more than just love to make a relationship work. Compatibility is essential as well. Ask yourself: Do you both want the same things in life? Do you share similar values and beliefs? If you don’t, how are you going to get through these challenges?
Love is essential, but there are also other factors involved when it comes to enjoying a rewarding, life-long partnership.
I believe that the things we talk about, write about, or even podcast about the most are also the things that we need the most. So, since DeVon writes almost exclusively about relationships, I thought I’d ask him what he feels he needs the most out of his own marriage:
“In my marriage, I always try to make my wife feel that I’m here to serve and be the best husband I can be. The only problem is that it can be difficult to develop the boundaries of what I can do or give…Because no matter how generous anyone may want to be in a relationship, if they don’t first acknowledge their needs, then altruism is flawed. They end up serving to fill the hole in our soul.” – DeVon Franklin
I think I can relate to this big time. For much of my life, in order to receive love and affection, I’d agree to things that crossed my personal boundaries just so that I could make the other person happy. In the end, I resented myself because I was doing things I didn’t believe in.
Are you in a similar position? How do you navigate your way out of it and start enjoying more rewarding relationships where your personal boundaries are respected, and you’re able to contribute to the relationship joyfully?
In the podcast, DeVon gave several great pieces of advice, but I would like to focus on two things he shared.
Unspoken expectations are relationship killers. This is particularly true in long-term relationships, where one person may assume that the other knows what they want. We judge them when they don’t meet the expectation they may not have been aware of. Then we make a false assumption about their intent. This situation can make anyone feel trapped by the ugly feelings of resentment, anger, and frustration.
Thus, DeVon advises that you need to talk openly about your expectations with one another to solve this problem. If we don’t, we end up controlling our partner.
“If the other person wants to meet that expectation, great. If they don’t, then talk about what that means. Talk about if you are compatible or if both of you want to go in the same direction.” – DeVon Franklin
DeVon also clarifies that it’s important that couples know the two types of expectations.
“So to deeply understand expectations, I have every person ask these two questions. Is it realistic or unrealistic? If it’s within your control, that’s realistic. Otherwise, that’s unrealistic” – DeVon Franklin
Knowing these differences helps us set our expectations correctly. It allows us to understand what we need and how best to go about getting it. Also, when we know what our partner expects from us and can communicate that we can’t meet it, we can behave in the way we want. We don’t feel controlled. Control can be dangerous because, just like Devon says, a relationship filled with control puts love down and encourages fear to arise.
“When people do something out of fear or based on what the other person wants, some get their souls crushed. Every single time” – DeVon Franklin
Do you have any expectations of your partner that you might not be communicating? Do you sometimes feel like your partner is controlling? If yes, then I encourage you to express your wants and desires clearly so you can be heard and understood! Then, work together to find a solution that works for both of you.
Something else DeVon says can lead to dissatisfaction in a relationship is a lack of self-worth — but what do our feelings about ourselves have to do with how we relate to another person? According to DeVon, low self-worth can make it so we don’t want to stand up to our partners when we’re being taken advantage of, or feeling like our boundaries are being disrespected.
“It can take a while for you to come into a revelation of what you’re worth — being happy and pursuing happiness on your terms, and that a certain dynamic is no longer contributing to your life.” – DeVon Franklin
It can be hard to know that you deserve more if you don’t have a solid sense of self-worth. You may stay in an unhealthy relationship because you think no one else will want you or provide what the other person can provide for you. Though you feel like you’re being used or taken advantage of, you still choose to stay in such a relationship.
However, knowing your self-worth does not mean prioritizing your needs over the other person’s. DeVon clarifies:
“I believe everyone should give freely from how they feel and want to feel. They give that dedication because that’s what’s in their heart to do. However, if there’s an imbalance, where one feels like the other person is doing more, that may be an opportunity to test your compatibility. Ask yourselves, will you be able to communicate such a need? Or can you adjust to the needs of the other person? If both of you can’t, it’s not a fit.” – DeVon Franklin
I wish I had known this when I was younger, before getting involved in so many relationships that weren’t a good fit for me. It’s not just about the other person or how they feel: it’s also about me asserting my needs and communicating them properly.
Ultimately, for those of you in relationships right now, I urge you to ask yourself: What do YOU want? If what you want isn’t the same as what your partner wants, or you feel that you’re not living your truth, then perhaps it’s time to let it go.
As someone who had a traumatic experience as a child, vulnerability for me at first was equal to death. I used to be afraid to share my story, fearing that people would judge me, feel sorry for me, or destroy the goals I had for myself. But today, I can say that if you want to feel genuinely free, then vulnerability is the key!
In the case of DeVon, this is the area in his life that he feels he struggles with most. After the immense pain he experienced from his father’s death, he decided to shut off his feelings. This pushed him to work hard in school or his career. He saw it as a way to distance himself from the feeling of brokenness. All seemed well outside, but it was his personal relationships that suffered most.
“I couldn’t express how I felt or what I thought. It felt like I’m locked in. Even to this day, I work on expressing the things that are hard to express.” – DeVon Franklin
Many of us need to understand that vulnerability allows us to feel and experience pain with honesty, allowing us to feel alive. It’s also about being authentic in our relationships so that others can know who we really are most important, it allows us to connect with others more deeply.
When we expose ourselves entirely in a way we never have before, without shame or fear of judgment, it creates space for other people to also be authentic and genuine. This is an excellent example of how vulnerability shapes our freedom — not just as individuals, but also in our relationships with others.
Robert Morley said, “To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.” Helen Keller said, “The best and most beautiful things in this world could not be seen or even heard. They must be felt with the heart.”
Freedom begins with the ability to communicate our expectations and work on our self-worth. Also, by being vulnerable, we have a chance to live the life we want and enjoy more rewarding relationships.
I hope you enjoyed this episode, and that it inspired you to consider your relationships with others and yourself. All of these tools and knowledge on living the life you want are found in DeVon’s book, Live Free! Make sure to grab your copy. Also, if you’re interested in learning more about what DeVon does or would like guidance on living free within yourself and your relationship, don’t hesitate to check his website! He’s active on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, too.
As always, if there are topics from this episode that resonate with you, please tag DeVon, @devonfranklin, and me, @lewishowes, on Instagram with your key takeaways. Please also go to Apple Podcasts, give it a five-star rating, and don’t forget to subscribe!
Before we end, here is DeVon’s definition of greatness:
“My definition of greatness is peace and proficiency. And what I mean by that is when I think of those who are great, they are incredibly proficient at what they do. And amid that proficiency, they’re able to tune out the pressure and find the piece of their purpose and peace in the midst of it.” – DeVon Franklin
Remember, you have the freedom to live the life you want — but it takes work! Your greatness is inside of you, and it’s up to you to live your life well!
So, if you want to learn all the tools to start living a life that is true to your values and beliefs, you do not want to miss this episode on The School of Greatness with DeVon Franklin!