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Joanne

A relationship coach on how to get comfortable with being wrong

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Personally, I find it incredibly difficult to be proven wrong. Perhaps it stems from my childhood dream of being a lawyer, but I struggle to walk away from a disagreement without feeling satisfied that I’ve made a strong and unbeatable case for myself.
But by using arguments with my partner as an opportunity to flex my debating muscles, I can often let my desire to be right overshadow my desire to be empathetic, understanding and compassionate. Instead of using disagreements as a chance to hear someone else’s point of view, or to be emotionally vulnerable, I tend to have tunnel vision and see things in black and white terms.
Whether it’s small-scale problems like being in a bad mood and feeling stressed, to larger-scale disagreements about life decisions, conflict is pretty much unavoidable in relationships. Except we’re not exactly taught about communication strategies, and much of what we do know is based on how we’ve been raised.
To get some advice on how to feel more comfortable with the idea of being wrong and how to better navigate conflict in relationships, I turned to Katie O’Donoghue, a relationship coach at The Indigo Project.
Why it’s difficult to admit when you’re wrong
“Now, let’s be real here, everyone makes mistakes and people can be messy sometimes – it’s life, it’s challenging, and it’s not supposed to be flaw-free,” Katie explains. “The problem with not admitting to your mistakes, or taking ownership for your responsibilities, is that it can result in resentment between people and even bigger disagreements as time goes on.”
“What I believe it comes down to is a fragile ego, wanting to be seen in a certain light, or perhaps [it’s an attempt to] escape a certain fear such as vulnerability or rejection,” she tells me. “It’s not enjoyable to experience a feeling of being wrong but I’m of the belief that admitting to your wrongdoing[s] is a sign of psychological strength and maturity.”
Be curious
Though it’s easy to get sidetracked and be fuelled by the need to make a case for how you’re right and how the other person is always in the wrong, Katie advises it’s better to adopt a curious approach instead.
“It’s important to explore ‘why’ the other person may feel or think the way they do and refrain from trying to change their perspective as this will result in an argument,” she says. “In other words, aim to accept that your partner is feeling and thinking a certain way, listen to what they have to say without interruption, and then maybe take some time to think about how you might like to respond.”
Katie acknowledges this can be difficult to do when emotions are at a high. “It really does require a level of self-awareness so that you can choose how to respond instead of reacting in the heat of the moment.”
Accepting differing viewpoints
“Acknowledging and listening to the other person’s perspective does not mean that you need to agree with them – and it does not suggest that someone needs to be ‘wrong’ and someone needs to be ‘right’,” Katie says. “People can still have a different opinion, belief, or viewpoint and move forward from conflict. In fact, conflict can actually bring people closer together if it is handled in a successful way.”
Instead, accepting that others have a different viewpoint is important in understanding that they might just see the world in a different way.
“If you are still feeling strongly about being ‘right’, [take] some time to process your own emotions and then reflect on what is likely to happen if you are to proceed in this way versus what would happen if you were to let go of the need to be ‘right’ and reach a ‘win-win’ outcome,” Katie advises.
Admitting your mistakes is a strength
“Give yourself permission to not be a perfect human being,” Katie says. “Understand that even though you are in the wrong at that specific moment, you are also human and everyone makes mistakes. You will still be loved in spite of this.”
It’s also important to recognise that admitting your mistakes can benefit you. “It opens you up to a new level of self-awareness where you are now aware of behaviours or choices that you may not want to repeat in the future,” she says.
Learning to walk away
Although we can’t control how someone relates or responds to us, Katie explains that we can control how we respond to others.
“When we’ve tried addressing a conversation time and time again or found ourselves in conflict over the same thing without any success in moving forward, that’s when it’ll be important to ask yourself ‘What will bring me the most peace and happiness knowing that this cannot be resolved or overcome?’.
“The answer may be the hardest thing for you to do: walk away and never look back – and this takes true strength,” she explains. “Sometimes, people choose to stay and keep trying because walking away means walking into something unfamiliar or they perceive it as ‘giving up’.
“The weakness is actually in staying and allowing yourself to reach burnout, to be manipulated, to be disempowered, or to simply be in a situation that may never improve until you remove yourself from it altogether.”
Setting boundaries
“Know your limits [and] know your values,” Katie advises. It’s important to be clear about what you are willing to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to before you have a conversation or interaction with someone and to know what’s important to you.
“[You also need to be] clear and assertive in your communication – people are not mind readers, so unless you speak up about what is a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ for you then others won’t be able to respect your boundaries,” Katie says.
Lastly, Katie explains it’s important to keep things balanced. “There needs to be an equal give and take in any relationship. If there isn’t, it’s time to assess the relationship and have an honest conversation to achieve balance.”Read more at:navy formal dress | formal dresses australia
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