Friday, December 2, 2011

Having To Be "Right"

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.
When we believe we are right, we spend an exorbitant amount of time re-hashing the situation in our minds. We may obsessively review the other person's responses and actions to find the evidence we need to be right. In this internal dialogue, nothing changes. We try to rebuild our case, yet we get nowhere. If we continue down this path, when the time comes to discuss the matter with the other person, we've already become the judge, jury, and executioner.
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.

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