There are two situations where we get into serious arguments with others usually.
1. When our needs are not met (or we think they will not be met).
2. when there is a difference of opinion or a difference of values.
- You are not right! I am right!
- This is not right! It is not fair! It cannot/should not be done!
Perhaps familiar phrases with anger underneath. They can cause unrest, arguments, long-term estrangement, and divorce in any relationship.
It has been my principle to have love in a relationship (including with myself) rather than being right, in any value issue or disagreement for more than 3 decades. (I can always separate my needs and those of others from value issues.)
I am careful not to lose my inner peace and unnecessarily get angry just because the other person thinks differently, and makes a value judgement (based on their value system) about something. This does not mean that I don't (shouldn't) have a different opinion or value system than the other person. It just means that I can accept that the other person has a different view based on their own value system, and I don't want to convince them that I am right at all costs.
There is no such thing as truth, there are only viewpoints, opinions, and perspectives (value judgements), that look at the same thing from different value systems. Of course, facts and figures seem to be "right". Nevertheless, even in those cases, it is not worth arguing and convincing the other person that the facts show this or that. I don't get into such value debates because I don't consider them essential.
(You may be familiar with the tale of the Maharajah, the elephant and the blind men, which vividly conveys that no one is right and everyone is right at the same time.)
- But he should be able to see! He should know! He doesn't know the facts!
Sentences like this and similar mean that you are hurt that the other person doesn't see things the way you do. And you want him to see it that way. But the other person wants you to see it the same way. So that you see it that way, understand it, and accept what he says, because he is right, according to his value judgement (and value system). You don't want to accept he's, do you? It is precisely the same with him when you want him to take your values and opinions.
When two people disagree on values - and usually argue, perhaps withdraw from the discussion, swallowing what they think - it is akin to goose-stepping. Each is trying to shove down the other's throat the idea, opinion, belief system, value system and value judgement that they think is good, right, true, important, necessary, etc.
But just as no one likes to have food forcefully stuffed into them, so we resist "stuffing" the other person's opinions, ideas, and value judgments. If you ask why, the answer is this: because everyone insists on their own freedom (their values), you and the other person too. Neither of you wants to have shoved down your throats what you didn't ask for. Everyone is free to have what they want, what their values are, and what's on their mind.
When two people have differing points of view, (value issues are the ones where everyone sticks very strongly to their own opinions), basically what happens is this:
We name the two people J and G for simplicity.
J thinks something that he wants G to think the same. Therefore, he tries with all his might (energy, voice, sooner or later anger) to convince G why he should think what J thinks.
G resists this - he starts his sentence with "but, only, however" etc. with some resistant word and explains why J is not right.
J responds - also beginning his sentence with something like "but, only, however" etc. - because he still wants to get on top, so that he can "stuff", push down the other person's throat what is important to him.
The result of the first two sentences is that "no one has ears", everyone says his piece - trying to stuff the other - defending and fighting at the same time. This is what I call the dialogue of the deaf. And it really becomes like that, no one hears the other, hears nothing of the other's opinion.
"Sticking to your own thoughts makes you deaf to what the other person is saying." (quote from me)
Apart from learning how to handle such situations with good communication (we learn this at TUDKO - Conscious Communication), it is important to be aware that every time you get into a fight - a goose stuffing - you lose energy.
Imagine a goose stuffing: the goose is resisting, so you have to put a lot of strength, a lot of energy, into pushing the food down its throat. In the same way, everyone gets tired by the end of such fights on value issues. You will get angry at the other person (why did he start it?) or at yourself (why did I agree?), and you may cry or feel sad at the end.
Negative feelings may come over you: frustration, anger, loss of inner peace, sadness, and helplessness. In other words, you fall from one of the high love-based states of consciousness to one of the low vibration fear-based states of consciousness. (From the pink circle to the blue one on the State of Consciousness Chart, Appendice III of the Intuyching® chart system.)
Let's say you don't get into an argument, you don't speak up, but you feel bad in the process. This is another choice many people make because they avoid conflict. Unfortunately, this is not a good tactic either, because in this case, you will feel that you didn't say what was in you, that you underperformed the other person, and that you took what you shouldn't have. (Which, by the way, lowers your self-esteem because you didn't stand up for yourself. Also, the anger, frustration, etc. that you swallowed is bound to cause you problems in the long run.)
The right solution is awareness, i.e. recognising what it is that is causing you problems and solving it, not trying to convince the other person.
As long as you don't feel bad about what the other person says, you can leave it alone, knowing that it's not about you, but about the other person. A situation reflects you when you feel bad. If there is nothing that touched you, if you feel untouched by the situation (or the words), it is about the other person and not about you.
Since I don't try to convince anyone (including my husband) that I am right and that he should think differently, I usually keep the peace. I can listen to what he thinks, I can tell him if I disagree with him (everyone has that right, including you), and I don't go into the goose-stuffing.
I respect other people's opinions and thoughts as much as my own. I don't consider myself less because I can't convince the other person, because I don't want to convince the other person. I do not want to win, and I do not consider myself a loser because someone thinks differently from me.
I know that as much as my own thoughts are important to me (my values, what I believe in), they are just as important to others. It is also true that as I distinguish my opinions from myself - my true being - I do the same with others, i.e. I do not identify myself or the other person with what they say or believe (or even with what they do, i.e. how they behave).
"The essence of another person is not his opinion, nor his behaviour." (quote from me)
This way I can accept almost anyone and anything. (Being human, I can be wrong, but usually, acceptance goes pretty well.) Of course, if the two parties have completely different opinions in an important decision situation, it's difficult. When it arises in a relationship, it is especially difficult.
Dad wants his son to go to religious school and mom doesn't. The child expressly hates even going to church, he goes, but usually, the day before he is physically sick and spends Sunday morning vomiting.
They can't agree on the subject of religion, but mum decides not to enrol the child in Sunday school, which dad is not told about. As of the father's knowledge his son has been going to Sunday school for years. The child does not go to church whenever possible, citing all sorts of excuses and he does not go to Sunday school.
One day, under the influence of various self-development courses, the mother takes a deep breath and tells her husband that she hasn't been honest about the child. She admits the child doesn't go to Sunday school (because he hates it, it makes him sick) and doesn't want to go to church anymore.
The mother puts all this forward with good communication, listens to and feeds back her husband's responses, and they finally come to the conclusion that the child will go to church if he wants to, won't go if he doesn't, and will of course not go to Sunday school. The result: a huge relief for the family that they don't have to keep secrets anymore.
So even such a very serious confrontation can be resolved, provided that love works between the parties and not the ego.
Love for yourself and others. Love is accepting - accepting your opinion as well as the other's -, non-judgmental - that is, not judging the other person for being stupid -, and compassionate, both with yourself and the other person. Love, which is a high vibration, while the energies of quarrelling and fighting pull you down to low vibrations.
It can easily happen that everyone wants the same outcome, but they see the way to get there differently. And then instead of talking about the goal, they argue about the way to the goal (the solution). In such a case, it is useful to bring the conflict back to the original problem, i.e. who needs what, and what do we want to achieve?
Everyone sees the world, others and things through their own glasses (belief system). They believe what they believe and usually identify themselves completely with that belief system. Our belief system (which is closely linked to our value system and our judgements, value judgements) gives us security because we know it. Anything new is unknown and scary. (New does not mean good or better. It just means unknown.)
In other words, when someone says something different from what you believe, you can feel practically attacked if you identify with your belief system (value system). They say unknown things to you - which is scary - and it immediately makes the ego jump to defend you (and depending on who the other person is and how you are used to behaving in such situations, you will defend or attack), and you are immediately in the fight.
Observe whether the other person's behaviour, attitude or thoughts directly affect your life or not. It is a need if it is directly influencing you (hurting you, interfering with a specific thing you are doing, attacking your body, and your senses, costing you money, and energy).
It's a value system if it doesn't directly affect you, doesn't hurt you, doesn't cost you anything, and yet it annoys you, upsets you, and doesn't fit in with you.
- The neighbour listens to music loudly, it makes you unable to go out into your own garden.
It is a need because it affects you. It can be expressed in an assertive sentence: I wish I could be quiet outside in the garden. (Of course, there may be a value system and judgement behind it: it is not acceptable for someone to be so inattentive to others! What a jerk etc.)
- Your child is failing maths.
You can't have your kid failing maths, you're ashamed as a parent. (No direct impact on you, so it is a value.)
However, if you have to pay the math teacher to teach your kid and pass the test, it can be a need, after all, you're reluctant to pay for something that's there because the kid didn't study enough.
- You want/do not want your child to go to a religious school.
It affects the child, not you, so it is a value.
There are also solutions to value situations if you approach these situations with awareness and consider the 7 tips below. And you might even actually get a new perspective, just by looking at it differently next time.
Is it more important to you to be right or to have love in your relationships? Is it more important to have love for others and yourself and to stay in high vibrational love energies? Fighting for truth brings your energy down to lower energy levels. You must know that you have a lot of work to do with your ego if your own truth is more important than love.
In the parenting case mentioned above, the goal is obviously to make the child feel good (whatever you mean by the good). Everyone can see that it's not good for the kid to be physically unwell. So let's look at what can make the kid feel relieved and better.
If the topic is the environment, for example, and you are upset that someone is not paying attention to it, it's worth discussing what they see as the solution. You can probably agree that you want to leave a liveable world for your children. The other person may have a different solution in mind than you. Maybe he or she is worried that it would be a lot of extra work to make a change (sorting the trash), or maybe he or she would lose something he or she loves (giving up eating meat). In any case, it's worth finding common ground and what you agree on, rather than focusing on what you differ on.
A stressful argument can affect the function of the prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain responsible for critical thinking and decision-making - as well as our breathing.
When under stress, the body goes into "flight or fight" mode, and you're more likely to react emotionally overheated than thinking logically, considering the facts (unless you're able to keep calm). In such a state, we say things we later regret or don't remember afterwards.
It is the ego that immediately comes out in these situations and wants to defeat the other person (and stuff the goose) because it is afraid that if it doesn't, it will lose (and be stuffed). Losing is always scary, so the ego is there to help you win.
If you're already in that situation, it usually ends in a fight. Instead of the fight it is better to stay cool and say:
"Let's agree that we don't agree"
Taking deep breaths (deep inhales into the belly and long exhales), several times in a row, can also help you regain your composure and respond peacefully.
Whether you would respond offensively or defensively to an "attack" on you, it is always a fight in which you lose energy. You can feel attacked if you are fully identified with your opinion because that means that your opinion makes you.
Therefore, "put" your opinion to the side, when someone attacks your opinion, your value system. In this case, you will not feel attacked, but only your opinion and your value system will be attacked.
This will make it much easier to find common ground and to understand the other person (see point 5).
People think they understand what the other person is saying, but in most cases - especially in value disputes - this is not the case at all. In the TUDKO communication programme, everyone is amazed at how much we don't understand what the other person is saying, and instead we "listen" to something that pops into our head. But it has nothing to do with what is actually being said.
Try to understand the other person, by repeating back in your own words what you have heard means to you.
E.g.: It sounds like you feel worried that the child doesn't want to go to church because you think it will hurt him later.
Although it's very simple, it's not easy to do, because we've been taught a very different communication style. That is why we learn and practice these responses on TUDKO.
The effect of understanding is that you can get a perspective on the issue at hand that you didn't have before, and understand, for example, the other person's concern. In the example of the parent, the main concern was that if the child doesn't go to church, the kid will go to hell.
Let's face it, whatever the topic, and however much you may think you know everything about the subject, you usually don't. Once you see that, it's easier to be open to the other person's point of view. At least enough to listen to them, even if you don't adopt their views. Realize that you are dealing with your ego if this is very difficult for you.
As much as we like to have people agree with us, it would be boring as hell if everyone was saying the same thing as you. The world is more interesting without all of us having the same view, not to mention that we wouldn't be able to evolve because everyone would know the same things - and only the same things - as you.
That's why it's worthwhile to see debate (not bickering!) as learning, to listen to the other person with curiosity, rather than shoving down their throat what you already know. So next time, try what happens when you just ask: what is the reason you think that way? If you listen with open ears, you might even hear some surprising new things.
In a relationship in general, it (would be) good if the couple agrees about 80% of the time on values (such as religion, politics, dress, style, and money management).
Everything that comes to your mind as "it doesn't fit me" - is a clash of values.
With big differences in values, the relationship is unlikely to work in the long term because both parties will be annoyed by what the other does/doesn't do.
If a situation arises in a relationship where you decide to do what the other person wants and you don't like it (and you disagree with them), in my experience, it won't work in the long run because sooner or later it will come up again that it doesn't work for you (unless you can accept it).
It's also worth bearing in mind that our values are changing. It is therefore no wonder that a relationship can break up after many years because the parties no longer think the same as when they got together and it is difficult to reconcile different values.
The questions already mentioned, "What is more important? Love or being right? What's the goal?" can help in any situation, because it allows the energy of love to lead.