We all have them from time to time. Arguments with someone we love are inevitable and quite honestly just a fact of life.
In the aftermath of a recent argument with my wife (yes, even I argue), I couldn’t help but wonder how we got off track. Initially I replayed the argument over and over in my mind and discovered my ego was quick to point out all the ways she was wrong. Knowing just how clever my ego is, I decided to dig a little deeper and focus only on myself. I wasn’t allowed to entertain any thought about my wife’s involvement in the argument.
What I found was startling. Most times when we argue with the ones we love, there’s so much more going on than what we’re arguing about. As a result, I came up with 3 questions to ask myself in the heat of the moment to help me stay on track and hopefully minimize my portion of adding fuel to the fire. They have been helping so I decided to share in hopes that they will help you as well.
1. Are you staying in the present moment?
It’s so easy to be anywhere else in the world other than where we are. In the blink of an eye our brain can take us back to a childhood memory of a time when we were wronged. Our brain connects the dots between the past trauma and the current argument and then cues our ego to fight to the death. In an attempt to protect ourselves as adults in a way we were incapable of doing as a child, we see this current argument as a win-at-all-cost endeavor.
Another way we leave the present moment in an argument is by charging into the future. Our brains are so clever! In just a millisecond our brain can give us twenty different catastrophic scenarios that could happen in the future if we lose this argument with the one we love. We go from a simple conversation to the-stakes-are-high in 1.3 seconds.
I wondered if there could be a different approach. Instead of allowing my brain to run wild, what if I corralled my thoughts back to the present moment in the same manner a rancher brings his cattle back to the homestead. Once he gets a few cattle headed in the right direction the rest of the cattle follow suit.
When I’m in an argument with someone I love, if I ask myself, “Are you staying in the present moment?” then I’m able to corral my thoughts and save myself from unnecessary drama.
2. Are you clear about what you’re mad at?
Most of the time, the ones we love are just our trigger. We can be upset about something that happened at work, worried about an upcoming bill, or mad about something our sibling said. We can already be agitated about anything else in the world, but when the person we love says or does something we don’t like it’s GAME ON.
Aristotle once said, “Anybody can become angry–that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way–that is not easy.”
It’s so instinctual to lash out at the ones I love when I’m upset about something. But in all fairness, that isn’t their fault. Becoming clear about what I’m really upset about saves everyone around me from any unnecessary arguments.
The people we love serve as our mirror and they often times show us parts of ourselves we don’t want to see. Pay attention to what they say because we all have blind spots and sometimes their loving suggestions keep us from looking foolish. As the old saying goes, don’t shoot the messenger.
3. Am I in my own business?
I recently read in a Byron Katie book that there’s my business, your business, and God’s business. Anytime I’m in your business or God’s business I create hell for myself and those around me. But if I stay in my own business then I’m able to find peace and love for myself.
We don’t say it out loud, but deep down we think we know what’s best for other people–especially the ones we love. Have you noticed we tend to think we’re experts when it comes to everyone else?
When I’m in an argument with someone I love, it’s so easy to leave my own business and worry about their business. Before I know it, the argument balloons into something so much bigger than is necessary. Staying in my own business means my attention and energy stays squarely where it belongs–on myself.
In conclusion, the person you love won’t say or do everything perfect–not nearly as perfect as you say or do (sarcasm added)–and arguments are unavoidable. Arguments don’t have to be wasted, however. Believe it or not, the person you love is on your side just like you are on their side if they were in a fight with a stranger. Next time you find yourself in an argument with someone you love, ask yourself these 3 simple questions. You may learn something about yourself and you may preserve a precious relationship as a result.
Best of luck to you!
Peace my Friends!
PS. Feel free to share if someone you know needs to read this. 🙂