As human beings we are social creatures which mean that relationships are almost necessary for our survival and certainly fundamental to our happiness.
Logically then, our relationships, especially our most intimate, are the major source of happiness or unhappiness. So the prerequisite of having a happy and joyful life is to have healthy and happy relationships; and the more of these types of relationships the happier and, according to the science, healthier life we will have.
But let’s face it, life has its challenges and they can spill over affecting and infecting our relationships.
Even a small argument can put us in a bad mood.
Here’s the challenge, how do we, at least, neutralize a negatively charged situation?
A practice (which is still a practice) that I follow is to become as fully present in the moment as I can. The practice is to shut down the “mind chatter” which is busy trying to “one-up” the other person and at the same time think of snappy comebacks while looking for an opening to take advantage of.
That’s one practice. Paige Burks, of “Simple Mindfulness,” offers more. Paige begins her article describing thoughts on an argument she had with her husband. The subject of the disagreement is unimportant. What Paige offers are ways to transcend the challenges that arise…here’s Paige to enlighten us.
We were talking over each other, trying to be right and the whole thing was turning into an emotionally charged freight train to nowhere.
I couldn’t hear what he was really saying because I was too busy dreaming up my next comeback or looking to point out some fault in his argument.
Giving Up the Fight
At some point, I lost steam. Realizing that the whole “conversation” was making the problem worse, I stopped. I just sat there, initially because I was getting tired of repeating myself. I was also getting tired of hearing my husband repeat himself. Obviously, neither of us felt heard.
In that space of silence, my husband went past the cycle we were locked in and started to speak more insightfully and calmly.
I sat and listened. He spoke some more.
At first I wanted to jump in and defend myself again but knew we had already wasted too much time doing that.
So I sat and listened.
Without me getting defensive and trying to be right, he had the space to share more of his feelings.
And by not trying to think of the next thing I was going to say, my mind had the space to process and understand what he was saying. And what he was saying had a lot of validity.
I was able to see more clearly how much I had been contributing to the issue that we were arguing about.
As he spoke and I listened, the tension dissipated and we were able to connect. My mind shifted from defending my story to seeing the issue in a whole new light. I moved from being closed off to opening up and thinking about how I could make the situation better.
I walked away from our discussion thinking of ways I could do things differently to create the better situation I was looking for.
By shutting up and listening, I did not walk away feeling righteous and mad at my husband – a situation that would have led to building anger and resentment for both of us.
We both felt better.
Listen to the Whispers
When we get into arguments, it’s our monkey mind and ego that drives our need to defend, conquer, control and win.
But when we tell our monkey mind where to go for a moment and create a bit of space, a little silence, we can begin to hear the whispers of our True Self guiding us in the right direction.
Give the Other Person a Gift
So the next time you’re in an argument and you feel the need to get in the last word, make your point known or just let them have it – don’t. The other person isn’t really listening anyway. And you’re not listening to them.
It won’t help anything. You won’t feel better in the long run.
Instead, shut up.
No matter what the other person says – stay silent.
When there’s a pregnant pause – stay silent. This is the other person’s opportunity to go beyond their own defensiveness and reveal a bit of themselves. Allow them to do this. Give them this gift.
While you’re silent, ask yourself why you’re arguing in the first place. Ask yourself if being defensive and argumentative is helping the core problem or moving you toward where you want to be. Probably not. It’s probably making the whole situation worse.
Let the other person speak as long as they need to and LISTEN. When it’s obvious that they have nothing left to say, THANK THEM for sharing whatever they shared with you. Thank them for their thoughts and opinions, even if you don’t agree with them.
Then rephrase their most important points back to them so they feel like you really heard them. Again, you don’t have to agree, you’re simply confirming that you received their message correctly.
From that point, unless the other person asks you for your thoughts, stay silent. Continue reading here…
Even the most “saintly” among us, at some point in our relationships butt heads and get angry with one another. That’s a given. How we respond is the practice.
As with any practice it requires an investment of time, effort and awareness. The changes will save everyone countless hours of suffering and allow you to return to and life of peace and joy.
These 5 Steps for Creating a Happier Relationship, if consciously applied, will be the path to more loving, healthier and certainly happier relationships.