We have all had the experience of a conversation that started out nice, but somewhere along the way it got twisted into a huge argument that ended in anger with no solution in sight. My significant other and I were talking about repairs on one of the cars. We have been contemplating selling this one so we don’t want to sink a load of money into it, but a couple of things showed up on recent diagnostic tests that require attention. The conversation started like this, “What do you think we should do?” There was no animosity, no strain – just a question. I suggested some options and that’s when it started to spin out of control. In less than two minutes my partner was talking about leaving the relationship and finding someone who understands how money and unexpected expenses work in the game of life. As if. How did it go from talking about the car to “You’re an idiot, I’m leaving”?
We have within us a list of all the reasons we think we are not good enough and therefore, are unlovable. These reasons aren’t real, but we don’t know that. They were downloaded into our young mind by caregivers, parents, teachers, other kids and society when we were growing up. The idea of who we are is just a mish-mash of other people’s ideas and those are typically based in fear. All arguments are based on these fears. The one thing we fear the most is not being loved. The belief that we are not good enough drives this fear.
When we interact with others, any one of our fears may rear their ugly heads and elicit a reaction in us that turns a nice chat into a divorce. The triggers for those fears can be a word, spoken or unspoken, or a situation that didn’t happen the way we thought it was going to happen. No matter what triggered the fear you can bet it was some form of “Oh no, that doesn’t make me feel secure and loved.”
Our fears are many and they are filled with lack. They include, but are not limited to, the fear of
- Being alone
- Not being smart
- Not being important
- Not being listened to
- Not being understood
There are many more triggers and fears and it is up to each one of us to determine what those are. For my partner, it was the money one today. I make more money and so an inadequacy in my partner’s mind was set up long before the car needed repairs. We have had a lot of outgo this month on various things that couldn’t be helped. The car repairs added to that outgo figure. I am sensitive to my partner’s income, but, this argument wasn’t about me or my income .¨ it was about the fear in my partner’s mind about not being good enough. This “I’m inadequate because I don’t make enough money” is a pattern we have dealt with before and we will deal with it again until the fear is resolved. To resolve our fears, we have to see them. The patterns are the key.
All fears have triggers. Those triggers have patterns. That means that whatever our fears are there will be repetitive triggers that set those fears in action. If we dissect our arguments, we will be able to identify both triggers and fears. Awareness of those is where healing begins.
During arguments, our fears are coming to the surface. The beauty of this is that we can finally identify them as they show themselves in a noisy, chaotic fashion. In the heat of the argument, however, you may not be able to recognize the triggers and the resulting fears because you are caught up in them. That’s okay. There will be time to sit and review your arguments with a fresh eye when you are not involved in them so deeply. You’ll have more clarity to trace the argument back to its origin, which will be some fear you have, whether that is about feeling inadequate, being afraid that you will end up alone or some other issue that is ultimately tied to believing you are not good enough. If you don’t see the triggers or the fears this time around, no need to worry, they will come up again until you do. The patterns end when we see the truth so often that the fear no longer has power over us.
There is one ground rule we must understand in our quest to uncover our fears and, therefore, uncover the truth within us: no argument starts because of something someone else said or did. All arguments start because we react to our own fears. Blaming someone else or something else only serves to hide that fear from us as we project it outward and stick on someone or something else. If we are going to heal our lives so we can experience more love, more peace, more security and better health, we are going to have to stop blaming. Taking responsibility for our part in an argument clears the chaos and confusion that surrounds arguments. Clarity brings truth.
Our patterns of fear repeat so regularly that they are easy to see if we are willing to take a look at them. One of my patterns of not feeling good enough about me showed up in this way: I would give and give and do and do for my partner, often to my detriment emotionally and physically, and then turn around and feel resentful toward my partner for not being appreciated. I blamed my partner for my unhappiness about this until I took a good look at this pattern. I realized this scenario had consistently repeated in all of my relationships. I was finally able to see there was no one to blame, not even me. I took responsibility for my pattern and the outcome of that.
The story my mind told me about not being appreciated continued unchallenged with blame. But, the blame was just a smokescreen to keep me oblivious to the real origin of my unhappiness .¨ the belief in my mind that I wasn’t good enough. I knew in my heart that feeling resentful of your significant other isn’t part of a healthy, loving relationship. Of course, my heart has always known the truth.
There is only one real solution to any argument and that is love. Love is the great balancing force in the universe. Love is comprised of compassion, understanding, kindness, common ground and a willingness to collaborate on an outcome that is beneficial and connecting for all parties involved. There is no desperation, no made up stories and no separation.
In the midst of an argument, the mindset is fear. This is why arguments often cause us to get carried away by our thoughts. The pain within us that originates from our fears takes a fact stored in the subconscious mind and conveniently alters it to match its fear story. This is the only way the fear can continue. The minute you stop giving life to the story, the fear ends.
Arguments have patterns we can use as red flags to let us know love is needed in this moment. One of the patterns of arguments is the separation it creates between the parties; the “You against Me” syndrome. With separation comes the withholding of love (another pattern) and, in many cases, the tearing down, piece-by-piece, of the one you proclaim to love the most (and, yet, another pattern) pattern. Your partner is now your enemy (final pattern). If one of you can recognize these red flags at any point during the argument and find your way back to love, you will change the direction, and the outcome, of the argument forever.
We often think of arguments as negative. They certainly are exhausting and emotionally draining. But, we can use arguments to see what we think of ourselves and take that insight as our starting point to healing the mind by aligning it with love. When we do, we become free to love each other and ourselves. We deserve that freedom.
Practice Point: Make a pact with your partner, parent or whoever you argue with the most to use the clarity of love in arguments as soon as one of you is able to do so. This may come at any point in the argument, or for some arguments, perhaps never. But, that is okay. Just find the clarity when you can. When you do, you could say, “I hear what you are saying. It sounds to me like there is some fear coming up for you here. Would you like to talk about that now or take a break and revisit the issue later when there is some space, peace and clarity around it? No matter what, I love you.”
A sailboat goes nowhere without wind. Remember that all arguments are based on some hidden fear. Not getting involved in the fear story means not taking anything personally and finding the strength in love in a most difficult moment. The goal, as a team, is to recognize the patterns, the clues and red flags and to find your way back to love so you can both heal from a mind that has lied to you since you were little. It is time.