Number 11 in a Series
Is it possible to be in an argument while being heart-connected?
If you answered, “Yes,” you’ve forgotten the defining qualities of a heart-connection—feeling compassion and being open to learning. (See post 2 – How to Become Your Own Hero.) An argument consists of people fighting to win, be right, convince each other to see things their way. . . “the right way.” There is no compassion, no openness to learning and everyone loses.
In my relationship training, arguments were taught as a normal and even necessary part of relationships. Although I certainly participated in my share of them, I always hated them. Only later in life did I come to understand that arguing is a waste of time, destructive to emotional intimacy and totally unnecessary. On the heart-connected road, there is a two-step process out of the argument morass in which everyone wins.
Step One – Accept Personal Responsibility for Being in the Battle
Each participant in an argument bears an equal responsible for being in it. Well, you might be thinking, “Isn’t the person who started the argument responsible for it.” No, it doesn’t make any difference who starts an argument it always takes two to tangle.
Picture a man on a pier who throws out a line with a baited hook on the end. A person in the water (let’s say a woman) bites onto the hook and they engage in a fierce battle. The woman flailing in the water with the hook in her mouth self-righteously shouts, “You know, we wouldn’t be in this situation if you hadn’t thrown out this line.” The man shoots back, “Oh yeah, if you hadn’t bitten onto the hook we wouldn’t be in this dilemma.”
They’re both right and neither is taking responsibility for the struggle. He bears the responsibility for throwing out baited hooks. But, he could throw out bait all day long and if she didn’t bite onto the hook they wouldn’t be stuck in their tug-of-war.
Hooks are the sensitive areas that tap into a person’s fears. They usually revolve around fears of being inadequate and lonely. If the fear wasn’t there a person wouldn’t react defensively and bite onto the hook. We all carry around some fears of inadequacy and our partners (including children) know just how to bait the hook.
The moment the initiator puts down the pole the battle ends. The moment the victim unhooks the battle ends. Either one accepting personal responsibility throws off the yoke of blame and the argument immediately stops.
Step Two – Opening to Learning
In a disagreement between two people, when one participant is open to learning an argument is impossible.
An argument always exists on two levels. One level is how we’re interacting about the issue. Learning about why we throw out lines with baited hooks or about the bait that keeps getting us hooked is that level of the argument.
The other level of an argument is the issue that is being fought over, e.g. being late, lying, sex, etc. Opening to learning more about the issue entails learning more about:
- The very important reasons a person has for his or her thoughts or feelings.
- One’s own position regarding the issue of the argument.
- Finding resolutions that respect everyone’s integrity.
Arguments erode trust, the lifeline of emotional intimacy. Restoring and building trust does not happen simply by stopping the argument, saying “I’m sorry.” or asking for forgiveness. Emotional closeness is gained and arguments are greatly lessened by:
- Acknowledging, without blame, that we lost our heart connection.
- Expressing our sadness about any wounding that occurred when we were disconnected.
- Cleaning up any difficulties that resulted from that disconnection.
- Engaging in the learning process described above.
But, even if a heart-connection doesn’t occur in the immediate onset of an upset it’s possible to return to our hearts at any time during an argument or even after the fires have cooled down. It often requires doing something to recenter ourselves and find our heart. Whatever it takes to drain away tension, return to serenity, and shift our energy to compassion and learning is what each of us must find for ourselves. (See post #6 – Love Yourself: Reconnect With Heart.)
In the face of difficulties, the road less traveled but guaranteed to change the results from win/lose to win/win and building trust instead of distance will be covered in the future post, “A Paradigm Shift.”
Today in the face of upsets, I am able to stay connected to my heart more of the time. But, there was a time when it almost never happened. Learning how better to do this has resulted from taking advantage of the opportunities I have been given when people behaved in ways that upset or frightened me. At the time, I probably didn’t appreciate them. I want to now tell them with deepest sincerity, “Thank you.”
For Your Journey
- Think of arguments you’ve had with your current or past partner and write about your part in being either the initiator or the victim and what you learned, or might be able to learn, about each of the two levels of the argument.
- Write about both the immediate long-term consequences of your arguments, particularly regarding the resentments that led to feeling less safe and close to your partner.
- Share-it-forward. Share some of the important things you learned about arguments and how they can lead to building greater emotional intimacy, safety and trust into your family relationships.
First in the Series: From Head to Heart
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”
Photo: Flickr/J t