Think back to the last argument you got in. Do you remember what it was about?
Perhaps you remember how aggravating it was trying to get your point across to the other person?
You might have said to yourself, "If only they would open their eyes and realize that they being ______" (insert negative personality trait).
Relationships can be one of the most challenging and confusing parts of life. It easy to get caught up in the moment and see only the other person's shortcomings.
If you've read my article on How to Give Advice to Others, you'll remember how energy plays a big role in arguments.
The energy you are sending out is more important than the actual words you use.
Often times arguments are the result of stress, which means at least one person starts off the discussion in a negative emotional state (they are angry, worried, resentful, etc).
Since most people are reactive, they will try to protect themselves from this negative energy by becoming defensive and eventually go on the offense, leading to a long drawn out fight.
It takes a rare person to step back, and not only have compassion for the other person, but appreciate their unique goodness in that moment as well.
How can we do that?
Well before we get to that, let's do an exercise in awareness. This one is extremely powerful so be sure to only read on if you can do the exercise, otherwise reading how it works without doing it can spoil its power.
An Exercise In Awareness
(from David Deangelo's Mastery Program)
Step 1) Write down the names of 3 people you admire or respect (they can be from history or from your own personal life, whatever).
Step 2) Write down 3 qualities in them that you admire or respect.
Step 3) Write down the names of 3 people you disrespect or even hate.
Step 4) Write down 3 qualities in them that you disrespect and hate.
Don't continue reading until you have these down.
Ok got it?
I'm going to suggest that the three qualities in each person that you admire or respect are all aspects of yourself that are actually your strengths that you don't acknowledge enough, lead with enough, or develop enough.
They are projections of your underdeveloped strengths.
You already have these strengths and you can see how powerful they are but you project them onto others. You aspire to be like these people in some way and don't realize that you have the same seeds of greatness within you; you just have to develop them more.
I'm also going to suggest that the three qualities in each person that you disrespect or hate are all aspects of yourself that are actually your current weaknesses that you don't acknowledge, come to grips with, or accept in yourself.
They are projections of your rejected strengths. (Aka, your shadow).
They are actually strengths that you are viewing in a negative light, which then causes you to reject them completely in yourself and in others.
For example, when I did this exercise, I chose one of my personal mentors as someone I admired because he is a great leader, is very confident, and has a powerful presence. I realized that these were all aspects of myself that were I just needed to develop and work on.
As for someone who I disrespected, I chose Fidel Castro because I viewed him as a manipulative, lying, dictator who mistreated the Cuban people.
What I discovered was that these were all strengths within myself that I had been rejecting because I only viewed the negative side of them. They are all positives that are taken to an extreme; they are good traits that have become unbalanced.
When rapport, charisma, and leadership become unbalanced and are taken to an extreme, they can become manipulation, lies, and control as is the case with Fidel Castro. If you take any characteristic too far, it becomes its opposite.
All negative traits are simply good traits that have gone out of balance.
Bravery taken too far becomes bravado; affection taken too far can become neediness; self-improvement taken too far can become self-criticism.
When one rejects the negative side of any trait, they also unknowingly reject the positive side of it too.
So how does this play into conflict in relationships, especially in the midst of arguments?
When we get caught up in the moment and see only the other person's negative qualities, we are really seeing parts of ourself that we have rejected.
The world is our mirror.
Instead of focusing on the negative trait, ask yourself "what is the good side of this trait?"
A worrisome parent becomes a loving parent that is unbalanced. A lying salesmen becomes a charismatic salesmen who is unbalanced. A nagging girlfriend becomes an affectionate girlfriend who is unbalanced.
Now instead of resisting their negative quality, you are appreciating their good quality that just got out of whack at the moment.
So you may ask, "How do I balance them out?"
That's not really your job, that's theirs (unless they ask you for help). Though what you can do is stay balanced yourself, since it usually helps them to come back into balance.
What most people do when an unbalanced person cuts them off on the road or calls them up screaming, is they react by becoming unbalanced themselves.
It's just like Cesar Milan in the show The Dog Wispherer. He says that in order to train a dog to be calm, you must first be calm.
Lead by example.
So how do we stay balanced in these kinds of situations?
Compassion for others comes from self-acceptance. When one accepts all of their own imperfections, they automatically accept those imperfections in others.
This is why self acceptance is so crucial; it allows you to not only have better relationships with others, it also unlocks many hidden powers that you have been rejecting.
For example, for many years I dedicated much of my life to improving myself. I wanted to cultivate business skills, workout my body, develop charisma, all so I could get closer to becoming this ideal self image that I had created in my mind.
As I moved along with my self improvement, every now and then a small imperfection would surface and I would brush it away as fast as possible. It was like a shadow that followed me no matter where I went and the faster I ran the faster it followed me.
After a while of repressing this imperfection, this human part of myself, it started to overpower me. One time when I was in college, I had to get up to give a presentation to the class. I had done this many times and was getting very good at it. This time though my throat tightened up and I couldn't speak.
It was to such a great degree I physically could not speak, my voice was nearly totally blocked. I had to leave the room to get some water and wait a few minutes before continuing. I didn't feel nervous or anxious and I didn't understand why this happened.
The presence of this shadow led me to have extreme difficulties with some of my close friends. I was so motivated to improve myself and I rejected my imperfection so much, that I would often get into disagreements with my friends.
They weren't very motivated to change themselves, so when we got in disagreements I would focus on their negative traits. I would say "Can't he see that he is being ___ (wasteful with money, manipulative with others, and so on)."
I saw their self-acceptance as laziness and they saw my strive for self improvement as being a naive follower. We both projected our shadow onto the other person and then rejected them for displaying that trait that we were running from.
It was not until I worked on myself doing many self acceptance meditations (which can be found in Revive Your Sex Drive eBook along with a tuning fork audio), internalizing the chakra frames, and working with my energy healer, that I was able to come to grips with my own imperfections. I finally accepted myself in that moment and released years self rejection.
The result has been incredible. Now that I have integrated those aspects of myself that I had always rejected, that inherent humanness and imperfection, I can now dramatically improve my relationships with others.
I no longer get upset with others when they "aren't perfect" because I accept that part of myself. When others are fearful, angry, or anxious, it doesn't bother me much. I understand how they feel because I've been there.
Having integrated those parts of myself, I can begin to transcend them.
Of course, there are still a few shadows that I may have but most of them are ok with me now.
If you have a healer or chakra teacher that you work with, they can help you on this journey to self acceptance as well.
Of course, the easiest way is to simply sit in a quiet room, place your hands over you heart, and repeat "I accept myself just the way I am, even though I'm not perfect."
Do it once or twice a day and you will begin to peel away the layers towards compassion.
So remember, the next time you get into a heated discussion, ask yourself:
"What part of this person do I dislike in this moment?" and then,
"What part of myself is being reflected back to me?" and lastly,
"Am I willing to accept this person exactly as they are?"