Dear Ted: Last year, our family had a loss that ripped us all to the core and continues to have a ripple effect within the family. I have had a hard time convincing one of my relatives of the reasons I have taken certain action to heal from losses. No matter what I say, he feels I am wrong and that I should do things differently. I continue to try to prove to him that he is wrong and it is tearing the fiber from our relationship and causing stress within the family. Should I continue with this banter even though it doesn't seem to make a difference? Thanks, Frustrated
Dear Frustrated: Navigating disagreements can be difficult within relationships, as they are an important element of authentic relationships, where people have the opportunity to express their authentic truth as well as listen to another person's perception of that truth. When expression and listening happen, there can be enormous amounts of healing, learning and a deeper level of intimacy within the relationship.
Indeed, the United States government, our legal system and many systems are built on reviewing various perceptions in order to come out with the best decision. The purity of this situation breaks down when the agenda of the discussion is to convince the other person they are wrong and you are correct. This includes subtle actions, such as interrupting, rolling the eyes, dismissing or other ways to cut the flow of information and preventing the person speaking from being seen, heard and valued for their authentic disclosure.
When someone is trying to desperately convince someone to think like them, they are actually caught in a codependent contract of seeking approval.
When someone is giving their perception of a historical event, there can often be levels of judgment since whatever happened cannot be changed. This usually makes one person feel belittled while the other person gets to feel dominant, smarter than and in control. In actuality, it only breaks down the opportunity for healthy, vulnerable conversations. The person who has shared does not want to be lectured and the other probably only wants to be heard.
Statements such as: "You should have done this" or, "Why did you do that?" are examples of hindsight thinking that do not usually help the situation unless the person is asking for help to review the situation for future decisions and actions. Even in healthy conversation, there is not always an outcome that each person has arrived at a place of agreement on the topic. Many conversations can be left to agreeing to disagree as long as each person's personal boundaries are not breached.
Remember that each of us is responsible for our own actions and cannot control the actions or thinking of another. Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.
Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct questions to Wiard, founder of Golden Willow Retreat, at (575) 776-2024 or GWR@newmex.com.
This column explores emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.