The forever wise Albert Einstein said it best when he said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same level of consciousness it was created.”
Personally, I choose to not view challenging situations as problems but rather an opportunity for change, enhancement, upgrade, transformation or expansion. But I digress.
However you choose to see a problem, trying to bring a different and more serving outcome will not be possible, if, you apply the same level of thinking and way of being that was originally used when the problem was created.
For instance, your partner says something or does something that you perceive as negative, how will you respond? For many of us, our automatic, re-action usually involves, saying or doing something equally negative.
While such a re-action might soothe our egos, the reality is, it never solves the problem. Certainly, we may feel justified in our attempt to inflict the same hurt and pain we felt to our partners, but this often, only, magnifies the problem.
Using anger to eliminate anger, hate to eliminate hate, violence to eliminate violence or fear to eliminate fear, will only give you more of the former. More anger, more hate, more violence, more fear. It’s really a simple math equation.
I agree, without a doubt, it is, at times challenging, to rise above a situation, which is perceived to be the cause of our pain and suffering. However, as with everything else, it is possible.
And it becomes very possible by becoming more aware of ourselves and the underlying reasons behind our choices.
Ponder on this thought for a moment. Won’t it simply be life altering and transformative, if, instead of fighting and bickering when faced with a relationship issue, we can amicably discuss and solve the challenge in a peaceful and loving way?
Just thinking about it feels heaven like.
I’m sure you will agree, that no one truly enjoys the drama associated with trying to solve a problem in a combative manner. It is defeating, especially because both parties are usually left emotionally, energetically and physically scarred; confused, in pain and with even more problems to solve.
Why then, is a combative approach to solving relationship problems the norm in many relationships? Why do we seem to continuously choose to fight with each other, instead of harmoniously and lovingly resolving our issues?
1. We are creatures of habit
It is said that we are creatures of habit and I believe this to be mostly true.
If you allow yourself to remember your younger years and recall how the adults in your life dealt with their problems, I am sure you will see many similarities in how you deal with your problems today.
Children are excellent observers and imitators. As they navigate their way in the world, they look to the adults around them for guidance and direction on how they should think, speak and act.
Once a behavior is modeled continuously and consistently, it becomes their pattern and their habit, which, 9/10 times follows them into adulthood.
This was a realization I had many years ago. I observed how aggressive and combative I would re-act when I was faced with an opposing viewpoint from my partner. I saw several similarities in the way my family members would re-act to similar situations when I was a child.
I was an official product of my socialization.
This combative approach to disagreements was neither healthy nor was it serving. Both my partner and I were left unsatisfied and bruised by the aftermath of our arguments and fights. Additionally, the problems continued to re-occur because instead of amicably working together to solve the issues, we opted to defend ourselves.
I’ll admit, it took me sometime to see the similarities between my family’s way of solving issues and the habit I adopted. However, once I saw it, there was no turning back.
I made a conscious commitment to myself and my partner to change this destructive habit, by instituting a more cordial and harmonious way of dealing with our challenges. I chose to see my partner as just that my partner and not an enemy.
I’ll be honest, the result of my choice was not immediate. I had to consistently remind myself of what I wanted and continuously reinforced my new habit, but it was certainly worth it, as evidenced by our eventual, cordial approach to issues.
2. Our need to be right
Many of us have a deep-seated need to be right, to feel a sense of satisfaction that our perspective is more valuable than someone else’s. It is said, that wars were started because of person’s need to be right.
This need I believe, is directly related to how we have been taught to view ourselves and our intelligence.
Indulge me for a moment.
I’m sure you will agree that our school system is a major influencer, playing a tremendous role in how we see ourselves and view the world around us.
Because we spend such a great portion of our lives at school, we are heavily impacted by its norms and accultured into its social standards, which eventually become our way of life.
Currently, schools place significant importance on being right about what we know. It is the basis of how we are assessed and evaluated, which essentially determines if we are deemed successful or not, intelligent or otherwise.
This association between being right and a person’s intelligence, can become a point of contention when other persons have opposing views.
Someone who maintains such an association, if presented with a different perspective, can potentially experience the opposing view as a threat to their intelligence and self-worth. As such, they seek at all cost to protect their intelligence by defending their point of view.
Throughout most of my life, my need to be right, got me into a lot of trouble. I was considered a ‘strong willed’ person, who had a firm viewpoint and was not easily swayed.
However, as I grew older and became more reflective, I began taking more responsibility for my life. This helped me to see that in each of my combative interactions, I was the common denominator. And my need to affirm myself and intelligence, was at the heart of my inability to amicably discuss the challenges we faced.
It is my belief, that self-awareness is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and others because, it’s through our self-awareness or willingness to see ourselves, we are able to make the adjustments required.
Self-awareness helped me to recognize that by defending my need to be right, I was in fact doing myself an injustice, by limiting my intelligence rather than causing it to expand.
The truth is, how much I know will always be limited. It is not possible to know everything. In addition to this, what I know is always changing and deepening with new information.
This therefore suggests, that, the more open I am to receive the viewpoints of someone else, the greater the opportunity for my knowledge acumen to expand and grow.
This understanding helped me to change my combative nature. No longer did I feel the need to defend my perspective. Instead, I became more open to hearing my partner’s viewpoint, knowing that I had an opportunity to expand or deepen my body of information.
3. Change makes us uncomfortable
As creatures of habit, we become comfortable with our way of thinking, being and operating. It is what we know. It brings us immense comfort to be consistent, stable and certain of ourselves and our environment.
When we are presented with a different way of thinking and being, to what we already know, this often sends us into a tailspin because we are thrown out of our comfort zone, into uncharted waters.
Relationships have an uncanny way of doing just that, pushing and catapulting us out of what is comfortable. This is true despite the number of commonalities we may share with our partners.
When we decide to partner with someone, we are essentially bringing our personal, unique body of information to that relationship. No two person’s body of information will be the same, despite the similarities in backgrounds, perspectives or preferences.
Our inability to accept these differences in our body of information, is essentially another underlying cause of contention in our relationships.
We see and experience over and over again, where couples are unable to mutually agree on issues ranging from leisure activities, communication style, emotional matters, home care, childcare, financial decisions, and the list can go on and on.
I remember clearly when I first moved in with my ex, it was extremely uncomfortable to say the least and for a while frustrating to both of us.
I had left my apartment and moved into his home with two his sons. While it seemed like a brilliant idea, we failed to consider a few important factors such as, the difference between their way of doing things and my way of doing things.
Honestly, I complained in the first few months, thinking to myself and at other times verbally expressing how much better off I would be in my own space. At the time, I honestly felt that this was an ideal solution because it would minimize my discomfort. However, in my heart I knew it would fail to satisfy our desire to take our relationship to another level.
As time passed, thankfully, I began to see myself and recognized that the source of our issue was directly related to our unwillingness to entertain each other’s way of doing things, more so me.
I firmly believe in being the change I want and therefore learnt how to manage my preferences and expectations, acknowledging that his way of doing things was equally valuable as mine.
Once I became more available to step out of my comfort zone and out of wanting things to go my way, I was able to learn more about his preferences, and ways of doing things. In many instances, his way proved to be more effective and beneficial to our relationship.
I believe I can boldly speak for everyone when I say, we all desire a relationship that is loving, supportive, caring and expansive; one that facilitates our growth and development, both as a individual and a couple. I know I certainly do.
While this might be our desire, it is often unfulfilled because of our unconscious approach to the inevitable challenges all relationships face.
The sooner we can acknowledge and bring to light our un-serving behavior patterns, which is the root cause of our difficulties, the sooner we are able to make a change within ourselves and inevitably in our relationships.
Starting today we can choose to bring about a different experience in our relationships when faced with challenges or problems, by instituting Einstein’s theory of applying a different level of consciousness to the situation. In the case of our relationships, the level we aspire to apply and maintain, is that of love.