Arguments – is it about you or the issue?

I am learning, far too slowly I fear, that doing the right thing in an argument often involves swallowing my pride and suppressing the desire to defend every implied or self-imagined slight against my character or my motives. I can deal with the issue, or how I fear I am being seen/portrayed – but not both. If how she sees me is my priority, the issue is unlikely to be dealt with easily, if at all. On the other hand, if I can set my image aside, then I can deal with the issue that is causing my thoughts and motives to be questioned.

In part doing this means dealing with the facts, not the opinions. If she thinks you are selfish, arguing about that is a waste of time. Why does she think you are selfish? Does she understand your reality completely? Maybe if she understood your feelings, and all that you are dealing with, she would see your actions as more understandable and less selfish. Do you understand her reality completely? If you knew all she was thinking and going through, you might see her needs differently and understand why you actions come across as selfish to her.

When we’re attacked, it’s natural to defend ourselves. When our character or integrity is questioned, our first reaction is to fight back, to show we are not what we have been accused of being. Thing is, this is fighting the end result of a chain of thoughts she has had about you. Ignore that end result, and deal with the things that lead her to that end result. Allow her to think you are selfish (not that you really have a choice) as you deal with the issues. Dig deep enough, and either she will realise she did not see things clearly, and admit you are not selfish, or you will see a valid reason for her to think you are selfish, and then you can make changes.

Of course, there are times when the problem is not that you see the facts differently. Maybe she wants to give money to some friend, cause, relative and you feel either that the person/cause is not deserving of the money, or you feel that the two of you don’t have the money to spare. She sees you as selfish while you see it as responsible. In this case the label – selfish, is not just an end result, it is a part of the problem. Resolving this one is difficult because the facts that are in dispute are not something that can be proven, the issues are about thoughts, feeling, sense of morality, sense of responsibility and so on. In this case, agreeing to set aside accusations like “selfish” or “irresponsible” may help each of you understand the other better.

2 Comments on “Arguments – is it about you or the issue?

  1. It’s been my experience that during a fight, often both parties are being selfish. Also, I’ve found its only about the original issue for about 5 minutes, after that its defending oneself, or someone has said hurtful things, etc.
    .-= Eric – BHF´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday- NICU Flashback =-.

  2. @Eric – You are certainly right on the first comment – and each feels that backing down is a sign of weakness that will cost them. Even when we know we are being a bit unreasonable, we feel we can’t back down. I suppose there are exceptions, but if either person was willing to stop being selfish I would think arguments would become rather uncommon.

    Your second comment is also important – the couple that learns to avoid those things, and keep the argument about the argument, do much better.

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