April 21, 2020

Being open and curious

Being open and curious

How good is it to be right? Especially about something we’re passionate about or when we feel we’re being wronged in some way. That need to be right is another one of the paths that takes us below the line. And when we get there, a few things happen:

  • We stop seeing alternative viewpoints
  • We suffer – anger, tension, anxiety, sleeplessness
  • We disconnect from the people who we believe to be wrong
  • We stop learning and growing
  • We spew outrage into the world

Chris Argyris’ Ladder of Inference sheds some light on how we make ourselves right and how two people can draw completely different conclusions from the same data. All conclusions we draw are laden with cultural meanings, assumptions and beliefs. These are stories we make up to form opinions and take actions. Knowing how costly that can be, unpacking our stories and indeed believing the opposite could be as true is an incredibly liberating process to follow.

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Byron Katie’s The Work is a great template to follow. She starts with 4 questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be if I could erase that thought from your mind?

Once you connect with how much being right is costing you, it comes easier to see how the opposite might be true, which is where the turnaround comes in.

Here’s how my turnaround worked this week. I had been stewing over a disagreement with my ex-husband over the past few weeks and I was holding on to a story about him being an a*sehole. This is how the turnaround works:

Current story: Cal is unkind to me

Alternate stories: Cal is kind to me, I am unkind to Cal, I am unkind to me

As you see how all stories are made up, it becomes much easier to see that the opposite can also be true. From there, we can loosen our grip on being right and open up to being curious.

For me, letting go of being right meant I was able to see Cal’s perspective and authentically apologise for my part in the conflict. All tension disappeared in an instant. In this environment, resolving conflict with the people we love is more important than ever. Do yourself a favour and do the turnaround!

Let’s stay connected.

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