There are two questions we should ask when at the inflection points in our lives. These questions are simple but will stir our emotions as we struggle with the answer.

Recall a time when you had an opportunity to do the right thing, but you didn’t. Often, we don’t do the right thing because of selfish behavior. For example, you wake up at 2 AM, and the baby is crying. Your first thought is to go to the baby so that your spouse does not wake up. Before you act, another thought pops into your head –

“I took care of the baby last night. I have to work tomorrow, and they don’t. I do everything for this family, and it is time my partner steps it up.”

Do you see what happens? We immediately begin justifying why we should not do the right thing. Often, we begin to vilify the other person the point where we get angry.

Maybe it was filling the tank up before going home so your spouse would not have to the next day. Perhaps you could have cleared up the dishes or taken care of the kids, but you sat in front of the TV instead. There are countless examples of us knowing what the right thing to do is in the moment, but we justify not doing it because of the past or the future.

The interesting part of this is that our first thought is almost always the consideration of doing the right thing. Then the spin kicks in, and we justify the path of least resistance.

The first question to ask yourself when you have to make a decision is, “What is the right thing to do?”

This question will free your conscience from the burden of justification and vilification.

The second question to ask is, “Am I to blame, and what has my role been in this conflict?

This will help us stay grounded in the reality of conflict. In conflict, we spin a web of justification for our behavior or feelings. We don’t see the other person as a person but an obstacle. We make lists of wrongs the other party has done that make us right. We commonly experience this behavior in marriage and partnerships. We are unable to express our feelings or concerns to the other person, so we bottle them up inside. The spiral of negativity toward the other person builds. We gather allies, friends, and family that will help us in our justification.

We get so obsessed with building our case against the other person or party that we never consider our role. We must step back and honestly assess how we contributed to the creation of the conflict. Introspection takes courage and humility. Too often, we are unable to objectively observe our issues for fear of being wrong. We are always attempting to guard our reputation but instead ruin it. The fear of judgment has us backed into a corner, ready to fight our way out in our defense. We do anything to justify our feelings or action, ruin relationships, destroy companies, end marriages, bring down entire governments, etc., all in the name of being right.

Don’t be that person. Don’t be a spin master. Ask yourself these two questions:
What is right? (Every time you have a decision to make big or small.)
Am I to blame, and what is my role? (When conflict arises in your relationships.)

Let’s hold ourselves to a standard of always doing the right thing and being accountable for our roles in conflict.

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