What is wrong with arguments? In basics: nothing. Arguments can help you to set things straight, clear the unclear, discover and border the uncharted territories of your own emotional landscape. However, when one or both parties offer a closed mind, arguments can turn into a war of will.
One of the instruments I use in arguments is justification. To save myself a lot of words, the Oxford dictionary translates “justification” to: “show or prove to be right or reasonable”. But when the other party discards your arguments or part of your arguments (for instance due to a different belief system) what is there to gain? Very little more then frustration or anger in my case and I am very much done with those emotions. Apart from that, the feeling that I was not able to “justify” myself almost automatically starts a time and energy consuming dialog in my mind where I try to find and mirror the arguments that will make me “rebound and win”.
So I started looking for a different approach, asking myself: “What am I really after? What is a better approach than justification?”
The answer that popped up in my mind was: “fulfillment”. Taking the dictionary again, we read: “satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character” or “the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted”.
I clearly like “fulfillment” more to strive for. Why?
I love the “satisfaction or happiness” element. Second: I simply do not like battles that lead to loss. Third: justification as a goal in battles of will is basically a waste of energy. It is short sighted, single minded and in most cases counterproductive. There are more roads to Rome than “to prove myself right”. I guess this is where it hit me:
When I strive for fulfillment, more important than “proving my right” is to find the answers to the following questions:
- What is the actual situation / what am I dealing with here?
- What would I like to achieve for myself now?
- How important is that for me (really)?
- How many different routes are available to reach my goal?
- Which route would be the most effective?
I do not have to prove anything to anyone. Sometimes the right choice is to abort mission. Sometimes to wait. Sometimes to push through. Sometimes to do something totally different. Sometimes to just listen. Sometimes to do simply nothing.
I believe in win/win (1/1) situations and neutral outcomes (0/0). I simply do not believe in win/lose (1/-1) and lose/lose (-1/-1) situations.
To close this article, a friend recently asked me: “Are you happy?” I was not able to answer this question. I believe since “happiness” is a too abstract concept for me at this moment in life and dissatisfaction an intricate part of my creative drive. I do know “joy” however and certainly have more and more moments of silly pleasure and joy.I think letting go of justification will increase the amount of these moments, since my mind will be less and less occupied by internal dialogues “proving things right” when I feel I “lost” an argument.
I simply start to like this silly smile on my face too much I guess.