Misunderstanding and disagreement in any
relationship can actually be an opportunity to learn
about ourselves. However, most of the time we
simply focus on how the other person is wrong.
It is easier to point the finger than to look to
ourselves and face the unpleasant truth that we may
share some or all of the responsibility. We
think, "If he (or she) were only more
considerate, had more time for me, or did the dishes
more, then I'd be happy."
Instead of looking at our own behavior, we believe
that the other person is the problem. We
believe we are justified, reasonable and more than
fair. They need to change.
Of course, it is human nature to want to be
right. Most arguments start with small issues
and escalate. Problems grow the longer we hold
our positions. We gather evidence, adding fuel
to the fire, and over time, we lose sight of the
original issue. What we are left with is, at
best, distance in a relationship, and at worst, no
relationship at all.
Examples of this kind of interaction are
everywhere. Longstanding feuds between
families going back generations may have begun with
something as simple as a careless comment or a
misinterpreted glance. Or the reason could be
something equally insignificant as leaving dirty
socks on the floor.
When I believe I am right, I spend an exorbitant
amount of time re-hashing the situation in my
mind. I obsessively review the other person's
responses and actions to find the evidence I need to
be right. In this internal dialogue, nothing
changes. I try to rebuild my case, yet I get
nowhere. If I continue down this path, when
the time comes to discuss the matter with the other
person, I've already become the judge, jury, and
Recently, in an interaction with one of my best
friends, I felt hurt by something she did. Now
this should always be my first indication to
realize I am self-righteously attached to my point
of view. Instead, I started gathering evidence
to support my position. The obvious
conclusion: she didn't love me enough.
"Enough for what?" might be the question
in your mind. And that is precisely the
dilemma. In this less-than-enlightened state, there
is no enough.
The movie Jerry Maguire is one of my
favorites. Yet the line, "you complete
me," that the main character wooingly says to
his love interest, is a slippery slope. We are
complete already. Isn't it time we know this?
Although my irrational thoughts told me one thing
(that she didn't love me enough), my healed self
became willing to be responsible and acknowledged
that I was blaming her for my feelings. I
apologized to her for my behavior.
Miraculously, something new emerged. A new
space of authenticity opened up between us. I
realized (again) the gift of being responsible for
myself, and I saw that I could return to my
commitment to love without attachment and without
It really does take more energy to hold on to being
right than it does simply to be responsible for our
behavior. When we are willing to let go,
problems can be solved more easily. People are
more willing to listen, to be open, and even to
acknowledge responsibility when they are not under
Identify Your Expectations:
First acknowledge you have expectations. Then
ask yourself if you are willing to give them
up. Stop expecting others to read your mind,
to know what you want and need, and to satisfy your
unspoken expectations. Stop waiting for
people to complete you.
Stop Keeping Score:
Yesterday's argument doesn't have to carry
over. Don't bring it into your next
dispute. Don't throw things in each other's
faces. Accept that we are all human. We
all make mistakes. We have our moods, our
reactions, our fears.
Love people for who they are and who they aren't.
Allow them to change and grow. Be willing to
see them newly. Don't put them in a box.
Instead of trying to make them be who you want them
to be, give them the space to be who they are.
Give up Being Right:
Ask yourself--how important is your position,
really? Is being right more important than
* * * * *
Kristen Moeller is the bestselling author of Waiting
for Jack: Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie: How to Stop Waiting
and Start Living Your Life.
As a coach, speaker, and radio show host, Kristen delights in
"disrupting the ordinary" and inspiring others to do the
same. She first discovered her passion for personal development in
1989 after recovering from an eating disorder and addiction.
Kristen is also the founder of the Chick-a-go Foundation -- a
not-for-profit that provides "pay it forward"
scholarships for life altering training programs reaching people
who otherwise cannot afford such opportunities.