How often do you argue and eventually you realise that you’ve been arguing about different things? Or what you thought you were arguing about isn’t what you’re arguing about at all? Even worse, you can’t even remember what the point of the argument was in the first place.
What do these three variants of the one thing have in common?
It’s focus, or perhaps more accurately a lack of focus. When we lack clarity when we haven’t thought what matters; it happens when we are reactive. When we’re reactive, we become defensive. When we become defensive, not only do we go into survival mode in self-preservation… The scattergun comes out and everything, every detail you can remember, relevant or otherwise gets thrown into the mix.
How helpful is that?
Not very. For one thing, the main thing is no longer at the centre and gets lost so it’s not surprising little, if anything, gets resolved. Secondly, when we lose sight of what’s important, say through a need to defend ourselves, we also lose an opportunity to see something from the point of view of another. I know this is easier said than done. God knows I have had my struggles with this one and far from having this nailed, I am a work in progress. When we do manage to take the imaginative leap and step into the world of another, our view is expanded. We grow and are better for it. We cannot see ourselves truly until we see ourselves through the eyes of another; it’s how we are wired and how we’ve evolved.
Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.Elen De Generes
Sometimes what we hear isn’t what we want to hear. It may not be what we want to hear, and sometimes it’s exactly what we need to hear. As my good friend, Helen Robinett remarked to me the other day, our greatest growth comes through our personal relationships, which means their view matters.
Our willingness to listen to that view is a whole different story.
It means putting aside our thoughts and opinions long enough to be available to what is being communicated to us. I know I’ve stubbornly held on to my point-of-view and my opinions to the detriment of personal relationships and my own growth. I frequently need to remind myself that I can always come back to my perspective, but if I don’t listen I might not get another chance in the relationship I am engaging in at that very moment
When I think of it that way, a relatively recent shift in thinking I might add, the choice is simple. Keep to the main point; it’s not personal, suspend might point-of-view long enough to hear what is being said and give growth a chance.