The One Question That Will End Every Argument

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couple look into the woods

In a relationship, especially one that's long-term, arguments are inevitable. It's normal to get into little tiffs about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher or take out the trash. Where arguing becomes a problem, however, is when you keep fighting about the same thing.

If you're not getting along with someone you love and you want to know how to be happy, there's a simple (yet powerful) question you can ask that promises to end pretty much any argument.

The thing is, this question isn’t for everyone. Some people just aren’t ready for a tool so powerful.

Let me explain first and then I’ll give you the question.

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Here’s the truth about the one question that'll end just about every argument, for good.

Every person here on earth has the potential to serve as your master teacher. Sometimes they will teach you things you value and want to know.

Maybe it’s a skill that will become your career or hobby and in the process, become a big part of your identity. Maybe it’s a family member or a partner who taught you beautiful things like unconditional love, acceptance, or forgiveness.

However, sometimes your master teacher comes to teach you something else. They come to teach you the stuff you might not have wanted to learn.

Maybe it’s the ex who cheated on you and abandoned you. Maybe it’s the co-worker or boss who drives you crazy. Maybe it’s even your current partner who knows very well how to trigger your buttons.

No matter who it is, the whole dynamic of the situation shifts profoundly and forever the moment you see them not as your greatest antagonist, but instead as “your greatest teacher.”

Why are those who annoy you “your greatest teacher?”

The reason why is actually quite simple, really. The job of an antagonist is to literally antagonize you — they have no other role beyond that.

On the other hand, a teacher has come to teach a lesson, and when you learn the lesson, you get to graduate. Once you pass the class, you never have to go back ever again and you can move on to bigger and better things.

However, in some instances, those who miss the lesson or fail to grasp critical learning are forced to repeat the lesson over and over until they “get it.”

Here’s the critical distinction: you can’t just quit the “class.” Your work here is to “get” the lesson. Even if you divorce the person, quit the job, or give up the dream forever, you will still be forced to repeat the class.

It will just happen in the form of someone else who will trigger the very same unresolved wounds that the previous “teacher” attempted to help you heal, but you checked out without getting the learning because you might have been too busy blaming your “teacher.”

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“Wait... you mean I can never get away from jerks?”

I’m afraid it’s not that easy. As I said earlier, you can leave people and situations where you are treated badly, but the problem is you take YOU with you.

If you haven’t yet gotten the lesson, the odds are incredibly high that you will replicate the situation with a whole new supporting cast around you. Or in other words, as Roger Daltrey of The Who once famously sang “Meet the new boss... same as the old boss.”

I’m sure we all know someone who seems to keep getting the same lessons over and over as a result of old choices. Isn’t it interesting how easy it is to see when it’s someone else instead of us?

Here’s the good news:

While it may seem you can’t get away or escape certain lessons you need, I would suggest that instead of avoiding lessons, it would be a great idea to actually consider asking yourself what the lesson is you’re supposed to get.

That’s right. One of the absolute best questions you can ask yourself is “what, exactly, is the lesson here?”

That question will literally change your life if you ask it consistently and often enough.

Here’s why: Once you reveal a wound, you can deal with it and eventually heal it.

There’s a concept I teach to my clients that often leads them to tremendous, life-changing breakthroughs. It’s called the Imago, which is another term for a matrix or a mold.

Here’s how it works: we’re all born perfect and unwounded — then we get raised by imperfect, wounded people doing the best they can with what they have at the moment.

The result is that we usually take on those same wounds over time and the purpose of our journeys here is to discover and heal those wounds for good.

How do we do that? The main vehicle for doing that is interacting with other people outside our family unit who trigger those same wounds. Those who ignore or are unaware of The Imago tend to struggle in life.

For instance, let’s say an individual had a parent who was hyper-critical and seemingly impossible to please. Typically, that person would go one of two primary ways.

Either they become just as critical — or wounded — as the parent they’ve “molded” themselves after, or they have so much pain, they become the exact opposite.

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While that may appear to be better on the surface, the fact is if you are so wounded by your own past criticism that you can’t give important, constructive, and supportive feedback to another... well that’s a wound of another kind.

This brings me to the question I promised you:

When you understand how The Imago works, you can finally let go of your stories about how other people mistreated you in the past. Your life no longer becomes a search for villains — real or imagined. This is what literally keeps you stuck and spinning your wheels for a lifetime.

You know that every person who challenges you has actually come to serve you somehow — your only job is to figure out how exactly.

Plus you don’t have to fear challenge — you can look forward to it... even get excited by it because you know it can only bring good things like healing.

So now that I have thoroughly prepared you to wield such a powerful question that will lead you to tremendous personal growth, here it is: What was my role in that?

That’s right. The question that will break things open for you is “what is my role in that?”

Now, before you ask if I am saying the situation is all your fault, let me assure you, that’s not the case. The reason the question is so transformative is that it instantly propels you out of victim mode and into problem-solving mode.

It shifts you away from blaming others and your own self-reflection actually causes other parties to step back and reconsider their own position in the conflict. It frames an emotional situation into an analytical one and it presupposes there is an answer.

And lastly, now that you know the situation has come to serve you — no matter how uncomfortable it feels in the moment — it becomes infinitely easier to take a deep breath, step back and re-evaluate with a clearer head — and that is where arguments get resolved.

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Dave Elliot is a Neurostrategist and coach who helps his clients get results with a variety of techniques that enable rapid transformational change.