Updated: Aug 5, 2019
I was fighting with my wife again. For almost a decade we had run a family and a gym business together. We had never lived extravagantly and there was always enough... but barely. Things were consistently stressful.
We had openly chosen this life, and yet it was much harder to manage our lifestyle choices than either of us had foreseen. Maintaining both forward progress and the financial success necessary to pay the bills was not easy.
We had said and done things to each other over the years during these countless stressful moments that had inadvertently and incompetently hurt each other time and time again. Our relationship slowly eroded with every stressful outburst or selfish desire.
I wanted to feel "heard" from my wife. I wanted her compassion, her gratitude, her friendship and her love. Quite egotistically, I wanted to be her hero.
But, in a moment of clarity, I realized that I was not giving her any of the things I wanted. Where was my gratitude for her, my compassion for her, my friendship to her? How often did I not hear what she was trying to tell me?
How often do you behave the same way?
How often do you want to be understood by your family, your friends, on social media or in traffic? How often do you give others this same chance to be understood?
How often do you require others give you the benefit of the doubt (because nobody knows what you're going through)? How often do you give the benefit of the doubt to others?
How often do you want the right to think and act in a manner that suits your definitions of responsibility, morality and justice without criticism? How often do you allow others their philosophy even if some fundamental differences between the two of you arise? (If everyone has to think and act like you to be accepted by you, are you not a tyrant?)
How often do you want your opinion to count and for others to hear you? How often do you listen first and hear what others are trying to say?
Looking in the mirror FIRST, before you point the finger at anyone else, is tough. Especially when you are emotional. Especially when your feelings are hurt.
Take a pause. Be disciplined with this pause and work to truly demand it of yourself when you are burdened with heavy, negative emotional reactions.
Breathe deeply. And then breathe deeply again. Reflect. Ask yourself, "How can I do better here?"
The self-control, self-respect and self-awareness you bring forward in yourself will fill your heart with gratitude, kindness and empathy. Is it not better to make most of the decisions in your life from a place of confident sobriety brought forth through inner peace?
This is hard for me. I work hard at reminding myself of these things (and I'm not always successful).
But when I operate from peace, I am much more effective and joyful. I also get to be the man my wife deserves.
To get what we want, we have to be what we would like to see in others. Hugs.