Last night I hosted the weekly video chat on RealLove.com, and I was impressed—as I have been on so many occasions—with the comments of people who have been living the principles of Real Love.
One woman, Allie, talked about how much the relationship with her husband had changed over the last several months. They still argued occasionally, but she was learning to respond differently to him, and it was having a very positive effect on their relationship.
On one recent occasion, they said some unpleasant things to each other, and later in the day he sent her an email describing, in Allie’s words, “all the things she had done wrong in all the years they’d been married.” You can easily imagine how much venom he poured into the writing of that message, can’t you?
How many times have we done something like that to another person? How many times have we pounded someone with the mistakes they’ve made, thinking that in the process we might actually change him or her? But did it ever? Can you think of a single occasion where you criticized someone in that manner, and then they responded by changing? Or by thanking you for pointing out their flaws? Did you ever feel closer to someone after attacking them like that?
When Allie read that hateful message, her first inclination was to feel hurt and to defend herself. There certainly seemed to be enough justification for that response. But before she reacted with her first and natural impulse, she called someone who was experienced in Real Love and asked for some advice. The wise woman she called suggested that Allie go through every accusation in her husband’s email and admit to whatever was true about the accusation.
That changed everything. Instead of focusing on how she was right—which would only have made her defensive and angry—she concentrated on admitting how she was wrong, which made her open and humble and teachable. She discovered that there was a significant element of truth in all the accusations. The conflict was over.
In almost every circumstance, we can find ways to justify our being right, but the price is so very high. When we’re right, we’re defensive, angry, hurtful to others, alone, and unhappy, so we have to ask ourselves, Is being right worth the cost?
Or can we make another choice? We can shift our focus from ourselves to a concern for others. We can genuinely listen. We can admit that we’re wrong. We can remember that nurturing love is far more important than being right. The rewards of that approach are beyond measure.
Stop being right. Find genuine happiness now and forever.
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