Welcome the Multitude of
Opportunities to Learn
Kristen Moeller

  
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 executioner.

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 strings.

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 attack.

Practice
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.

Acceptance:
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 your relationships?
  

* * * * *
     

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.

  
  

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