Seeing Things Differently

In every relationship, there comes a time when problems arise. We just see things differently, and sometimes, we have trouble working things out. It can be between any two people, but the effects of disagreements have the same effect on us.  Can two people having a disagreement both be right? It’s a question that I often ask myself.

The argument and the rationale seem so reasonable, and yet they see each other as anything but reasonable. Each person has their own view of the problem, their actions are understandable. However, their responses to the person are expressed as being unfair, hurtful behavior, yet their accounts of what happened between them are the same. The events, but not the interpretation, and even still, the events that led up to their disagreement are usually different in important ways. It is a lot like a pendulum that goes back and forth. It’s the result of looking at the situation from different perspectives. Each perspective is clear and even compelling, that is until the perspective is considered. I think that what becomes more important with disagreements is understanding how the pieces to the puzzle fell apart.

What is it that causes different perspectives of the same situation to happen? I’ve come to believe that the main reason is a self-serving bias. It is our human tendency to look and analyze information in a way that is favorable to ourselves, that makes us look good to ourselves. It makes us look at the situation and makes it seem good for us morally and to be absolutely right.  People can have different perspectives at times. How the disagreement begins and ends is a back and forth pattern, a sequence really, showing how comments by one person to another can develop into comments of retaliation. Disagreements are consistent self-serving biases where both people feel that it all began with a hurtful comment that needed to address by a response that was equally hurtful.

We might blow up in reaction to an ordinary comment because we are still angry over what the person said a week or two ago. When this happens, our boundary lines are drawn and we start to think back to all of the other comments that were said, the history of it all. This is where the self-fulfilling expectation starts to enter, and our reactions to them are influenced by memories of the person’s past behavior. That’s when the sequence of an argument happens. Many times the person who made the initial comment expects the argument, not for what had happened, but for what happened in the past. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We expect anger and react by becoming angry at ourselves, they often initiate anger in someone who might not otherwise have gotten mad at them. It is the expectation that what they predict will happen does and what is predicted is confirmed.  For anyone who is in the middle of a pattern of disagreement with someone, it can be hard to see what is happening, but slowly things down, taking a step back, and talking things out can show the pattern, which could help ease and prevent disagreements in the future.

We all have our reasons for why things happen, even if those reasons may not be seen. It helps to put those past memories and keep them back in time. Rather than going back to history, it’s the way to not allow expectations to overpower our thinking. At the same time, for those who put those past memories on the table for the other person to view and to discuss them if this is what is meant to be, then we then have the information that is needed to correct any misunderstandings, to reassure fears, to apologize for past pain that was caused, and to make a plan to interact with happiness for the future.

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