Disagreements happen. It is how we respond to them that will improve the relationship or break it apart. There is no benefit in trying to re-hash what happened and force agreement on the details. Every time we remember an event, our memory of it changes just slightly. In addition, no two people see things in the same way. Eye witness accounts of accidents are not as accurate as the Hollywood would have us believe. Our memory is not like a movie camera; it is a record of our past experience. Psychological scientist, Elizabeth Loftus, studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories (i.e. when people either remember things that didn’t happen or remember them differently from the way they really were). Conclusion; think future focused.
Next time a similar situation happens, think about what can be done differently? If each person takes this problem-solving approach, the chances of keeping the relationship intact, are far greater. What if the other person won’t cooperate, you ask? You may need to be a broken record, repeating something like, “We are both hurt and frustrated by the situation, but I’d like us to move forward. Let’s spend some time talking about what each one of us is willing to do differently next time…”. Then, we need to let the past go and move forward.
Emotional pain and physical pain share the same circuitry in our bodies. If you cut your finger, you wouldn’t cut it again to make it feel better. That doesn’t work. If you continue to rehash your hurts in your mind or by telling someone else the story, over and over, you will not heal the emotional wound. Healing begins when we become calm and curious.
To maintain calm, focus on your breath. To become curious. ask open ended questions. Practice these two techniques the next time you disagree with someone. Focus on your breath to maintain calm and ask questions like, “I wonder why they see it that way”, or “I wonder why they took that approach.” Post your results here!