Squash it – 3 Surprising Human Relationship Tips

ImageYa-huh!

Na-uh!

Ya-huh!

Na-uh!

When was the last time you took a stand and would not even consider the idea of the other person being right? Even just a little? Remember when you were a child and disagreements spiraled into the dialogue above? Here’s an idea, to consider sometimes:

1. Give up being right.

“But what if I am right?”

So what if you are right. Is it possible for you to consider that other person’s perception as their reality, which might be different from your reality? If you find yourself butting heads with someone in your life, at work, at home, on the bus, at the gym, stop for a moment and consider what would happen if you changed your reaction. Let go. Watch the other person’s reaction change. You are doing a dance of conflict, where you are spending energy making the other person wrong. You know the steps. Try changing them.

Here’s something else surprising from a woman who was raised to speak her mind:

2. Keep your mouth shut.

Wait, keep reading. This comes from my Uncle John, when I asked how he and my Aunt Joan have stayed married for so long. He told me that communication is key and to keep faith at our center. Then he said to his very outspoken goddaughter, “You know, Becca, sometimes you just have to keep your mouth shut.” I have field-tested this advice at work and at home, and it works. If there is something truly problematic, please know that I am not suggesting that you endure undue pain. However, the adage about “choosing your battles” truly does apply. I have trained myself to silently ask, “is it worth it?” for some of those little things or even to bookmark it. For example, if you know that there is an important issue which you and a loved one or co-worker need to discuss, yet perhaps that moment isn’t the right time because you are in traffic, or someone is tired and just not ready for a healthy discussion, then write it down. You can use paper, a receipt in your wallet or even your smartphone. If I have nothing to write with, I tell my muse and higher power, “Okay, I trust that you will help me to remember to raise this at the right time.”

Some of the reasons humans are not ready for constructive discussions are because they are rushed, stressed or “grungry.”

3. Ask yourself, “Am I grungry?”

Grungry is a term that has saved my marriage. Did that get your attention? Actually, my marriage didn’t need saving in the big picture, however, when my husband and I first started dating, we had some communications breakdowns around listening. What we have found is that when we are hungry, we are grumpy (thus “grungry” was born).  In this state, we are less likely to listen to each other. This is a verbal cue which we use on the phone and in person. So for example, I may come home from work and still be in, “let’s get it done mode” and start in on tasks: homework, laundry, dishes and more. And let’s just say that my mode of delivery is not great, he just asks, “Are you grungry?” There are times when I want to snap and say, “No! We have lots to do!” Then, I employ the two tips above, keep my mouth shut (even for ten full seconds of reflection and I mean counting “one Mississippi, two Mississippi…”). I think, he is right, I am grungry. So I practice some good old-fashioned self-care. I eat a pre-dinner snack and drink water, usually an ice cold “La Croix” bubble water, breathe, and slow down.

Try these tips  for squashing conflict over the weekend. It’s a way to lead a peaceful life. You will still resolve situations. You just may find that with reflection and time, they have a different look and taste.

What’s your third thing?

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Lots of us live in conflict. These conflicts can be big or small. Live in the city, longing for nature. Married to stable, longing for passion. Broken childhood, happy adulthood. Overweight, desire to run the fields. In The True Secret of Writing, Natalie Goldberg addresses the idea of a third thing. It’s not necessarily something you can point to right away. It’s that medium where you find relief. “Should I do this or that? A choice between two things is not a choice. It becomes a fight between right or wrong.” The idea is that out of the struggle something else can grow. A third thing. It takes an awareness, a waiting, a letting go, a fertilizing, a quieting. In my case, I realized this morning, that my novel is my third thing. That answer to my dark and light. I am so excited to share it with you. Natalie’s third thing is her house in Santa Fe. Her struggling between her love of Minneapolis and its order and her existence in Taos.

If you feel a restlessness over conflict, try this calming meditation I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh:

I am home.
I have arrived.
In the here and now.
I am solid. I am free.
In the ultimate I dwell.

Here’s to your third thing arriving at the moment that is right for you.