One of the benefits of having a mother-in-law who is a licensed counselor is having free, expert advice at my disposal anytime. I try to not abuse it, in fact maybe she wishes I’d go to her for advice more, but when I do get her input on something I really cherish her words and take them to heart.
About a year ago, I needed Virginia’s help. I was debating on sending someone a letter, one that divulged my true feelings, anger, and disgust about his actions. I felt he needed to be put in his place, and I drafted the most perfect letter to do so. All the way from up on my soap box, too! I explained the situation to Virginia and while she was very understanding of my side, she asked me one simple question that changed my perspective completely. It is a question that I have thought about at least once every single week since she asked it a year ago- and I’m so thankful for her inquiry. She asked me, “what is your ultimate goal – what are you are trying to accomplish here? Think about what your ideal end result is for this conflict and think “is this act/letter going to help you accomplish that?””
Mind blown. It seems so simple when you look at it objectively and in hindsight like that, but when so many feelings and emotions are involved, it is hard to separate lashing out vs constructive confrontation and discussion.
My answer was “no.” My ideal end result was the opposite of what my letter would have prompted. My letter would have escalated things, brought claws out, and fallen on deaf ears. It would have been pointless, and I may have regretted sending it.
I thought about what I wanted to happen with the person, and chose a different path. It can be really easy to lash out at somebody and justify it by saying I’m just getting my feelings out or simply trying to come to an understanding. But there is a difference- and deep down we know where the line is.
Not only is Virginia’s questioning tool useful for conflict, but it can be applied almost anywhere in life. Try it out, you might be surprised at the decisions and choices you make when you take the time to think about them before moving forward.
What are you trying to accomplish, and does this action really and truly help you get there?