Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tuesday, March 28: When in an Argument

When in an argument.

This is one of life’s ongoing elusive obvious processes. Maybe the central
ignored process in life. It goes like this:

A argues with B. From A’s point of view, B is stupid, bad, wrong. From B’s point
of view A is stupid, bad, and wrong. The arguers can be a parent and a child,
of any age, a set of mates, two friends on the outs, co-workers, neighbors. You
name it and people can figure out how to get into an argument.

So, this is the habit: I’m right and the other is wrong. And anything they say
about me that I don’t like just proves how mean and awful they are. On the other
hand, anything I say of a critical or vicious nature about them is just the
plain old truth and if they don’t like it, well that’s tough. They deserve
punishment, whereas, wonderful innocent me deserves not a speck of criticism.

And so it goes, me right, you wrong, me good, you bad, a carousel of blame and
counter blame.

And what is the way out of this? The Work of Byron Katie on my accusations is a
wonderful start, to sit down with our list of criminal charges and put them
through the mill: judge your neighbor (we’ve done that), write it down, ask four
questions, turn it around.

The turn it around gets kind of interesting: everything we say is wrong with
them is, at least in part, wrong with us. What a drag, but hey: welcome back to

And then the realization begins to dawn: what they say about us, that, too, is
partially true. This is hard to take, because criticism usually comes at two
levels: the content and the tone. The content may be “You are so selfish.” The
tone may be, you are an awful monster because you are so selfish.

This is a big step in life: to learn to listen to and see what’s true in the
content of criticism coming our way, and to ignore the you are bad/awful/evil
tone that comes along underneath.

This is a short little essay. If you haven’t been following these and
don’t know the marvelous power of the Bryon Katie work, please go to thework.org
and be woken to it’s power. You could also sign up for my end of April workshop,
which will include this work and the Feldenkrais work, and conscious speaking, a
form of communication where we are actually awake while we talk, another


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