How To Instantly Diffuse Any Difficult Moment With Another Person
Even the best relationships have moments of tension. A small disagreement turns into a fight. Eventually, it blows over, but a negative habit has been strengthened, and it’s only a matter of time before the next fight begins. But what if there were something you could do before the big blowup came? What if you knew a way to defuse the situation before the molehill became a mountain?
Here’s one of my favorite relationship lessons that does just that. And by the way, for those of you who are religious or spiritually-centered, you’ll find this idea lies at the heart of all true teachings about the deeper meaning of love.
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Footing the bill
To explain this new idea, I’ll start with a question. Have you ever gone out with a group of people, maybe friends or business acquaintances, and just as you’ve finished eating, the waiter arrives with the bill? Nobody reaches for it. If you haven’t made it clear ahead of time that you were going Dutch, or that someone was putting it on a business account, eventually someone has to take the lead.
Maybe you get into a little tussle about who had what, when at some point someone says, “You know what? Look, let me get this one. This one’s on me.” And everyone at the table gives a small sigh of relief. What a powerful statement: “This one’s on me.”
Now, let’s see the parallel when it comes to relationships. Here comes a moment of discomfort in the form of a disagreement between you and another person. Life has delivered a “bill” that must be paid. There’s a disparity between two people that must be made right. Life is asking us, as human beings infused with what is divine, to do the divine thing, which is to say, “I will foot the bill this time. This one’s on me.”
For example, let’s say I’m negative about something you did. Usually, I complain, blame, and get angry. I want you to pay for how I feel. I want you to see how wrong you are. I get sullen or irritated, hoping to make you change your attitude so that the ache in me will go away. But now, I understand I can’t change you. It’s not just a mental affirmation. It’s a weariness born of deep-seated suffering that I’ve gone through five thousand times. I finally see that when I ask you to pay the bill, all that gets bred is resentment. So I’m going to step up and do the thing I never thought was possible: I’m going to use this moment of our relationship to let it reveal the parts of me that want to run away from seeing my fault in the situation. And then I’ll pick up the bill. I will lay down my life.
In doing that I will be changed; I will feel a new power. At the same time, our relationship will be taken to a new level where awareness and responsibility strengthen our bond. How beautiful that is. Scripture tells us that no greater love has a man or a woman that he or she who lays down their life for their brother. And their brother is not just their husband, their wife, their business partner, the stranger on the street. The brother is inside of us. It’s the part of us that just wants to fight that is revealed at that moment and is then transformed by our sacrifice.
If the moment presents something that brings conflict into my heart, my responsibility is to become aware of everything in my consciousness that wants to reject that revelation. Then, based on my new understanding, I’ll pick up the tab. I’ll let this moment change me by showing me who and what I’ve been until now. And instead of blaming another, I’ll take the responsibility to make the reparation.
A new me is born because I’ve let the revelation at the moment produce the energy and the possibility for transformation that exists in no other moment, and in no other way. And we both benefit because of it.
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