When differences of opinions arise, angers flare, and harsh words ring out, reactions to reactions can cause even more negative emotions. We expect the other person to listen to us. We want them to see how we have suffered, or why we were wronged. We’re hoping to prove that we are right, and that they are… wrong.
The problem is this: what lingers inside of us while we continue to wait for that apology is toxic feelings and emotional byproducts – anger, hatred, resentment – that cannot easily be cleared and released. And being right does not bring release. It still allows our minds to simmer on, even in the moment of our “victory.”
The downside of winning
Another problem with being right is that it’s a lopsided result – being right also means “I won,” or “I conquered, beat or overpowered my opponent.” Were you right because this person is young, inexperienced with communication, sick, tired, or perhaps misinformed? Did you “win” because you are a stronger, more intense personality? When the win involves imbalance, the energy of the situation can get very uncomfortable. The issue will still be in the back of your mind – and in the other. This may keep you both away from peace, serenity and acceptance.
After an argument, the best way to look at the outcome might be to ask yourself, “do I really want to win – or do I want to understand, and be at peace on this issue?” If you really want to understand and find peace, here are three strategies for finding a happy ending to your disputes:
1. Reach a resolution. Be willing to look at and discuss the issue from both perspectives! Identify “your part” of the problem. Look at what you might have done to help create the situation. What could you have done better? You might even think about your “reaction” to the initial “action.” Did any part of what you did make the situation worse?
2. Listen to the other person. Get all the facts about the situation, and listen to the other person’s perspective without butting in as they lay out their side of the story. Listen from a place of peace within yourself before you deal with another human being who is just as likely as you are to misunderstand, feel rejected, or get their feelings hurt.
If the other person is hostile or angry, try to think of a way to set a good example. Under the circumstances you may choose not to talk about the situation without someone to mediate – or you might insist that the discussion wait until all involved are calm. If that can’t happen, you may have to let go of the issue – and move on with your life. Perhaps this is simply a case where you’ll need to agree to disagree.
3. Center your spiritual energy. The next time an argument comes up in your life, take a few deep breaths before you launch into your argument about why you are “right.” Think about what you really want to accomplish. Before the argument grows out of control you may be able to whittle down a huge disruptive issue to some small matter that only needs clarification. Once in a while, a few calm and compassionate words will bring you both to a more serene place.
The next time you resolve an argument with the attention it deserves, the time and effort will pay off – particularly if you can walk away feeling that you are a good, caring and wise listener. Now that feels… right.
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