The discipline of Psychology has come up with some fairly simple rules to follow for fighting fair, and it amazes me how each and every day we ignore these rules and suffer again and again from their lessons.
The recent shooting in Arizona has brought up a lot of this, but I am reminded when I hear of bullying, the divorce rate, and the constant battle of the media and politics. While Psychology is far from perfect, it is an evolving discipline (as are we) and I would think we would take at least what we do know, and use it to our advantage.
Fighting fair is an art, and it needs to be taught in school and practiced throughout every relationship. Yet it takes a great deal of discipline, and it seems few have it. The amount of hurtful words we are constantly spewing out of our mouths, on an hourly basis, is creating a majorly toxic environment. Our kids are learning how to treat each other through the television, politicians, adults, and teachers – and what kinds of fighting are we doing every day? Some simple (don’t confuse simple with easy) rules:
- Don’t call names. It amazes me. If we could only follow this one, simple rule
- Don’t use the word ‘but’. It automatically discredits what you just said. I am really sorry I threw the napkin at you, but…
- Don’t bring up past grievances. Resolve them when you need them resolved, and move on in the relationship. All we have is the presence.
- Don’t use extreme words like always or never. This will automatically give the other person something to argue about or discredit. Very rarely is it really ‘always’ or ‘never’ – it is usually somewhere in the middle.
- Use your ‘please pass the butter’ voice. If you can’t, ask for some time to process the feelings and come back
- If you have a specific need don’t make general requests. Make specific, measurable suggestions for solutions.
- Forgive. Nobody is perfect. Even at following these rules. The important thing is that they try, and you show them respect and love for trying.
In all of my years studying psychology, reading books, and being around others who fight, the only thing I have ever seen work in solving relationship issues in a positive way is this type of fighting, using the principles of imago therapy.
Imago uses the above concepts and principles, gives both people tools to set the ego aside, and forces constructive listening on both parties. It is a painful process for most as it forces self-exploration, but the rewards in relationships are incredible.
Who was it that said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result? Albert Einstein. It amazes me that we continue to do it in all types of relationships throughout life – politics, marriages, friendships, and parenting, yet wonder why we are unhappier with the ‘other side’ and not making progress.
We disregard the rules, make our points louder, show complete disrespect to others’ opinions and beliefs, and question daily why we don’t live in a more peaceful world where we feel safe and secure enough to accomplish great things.
The only person we can control is ourselves and our own actions. So what will it take to bring about real change?