By Meg Schlabs
I like the early part of relationships. I like to get in there and make a splash, really show off a little. New relationships have an art-of-the-possible kind of energy, and I like to hang out there a while before I go and do something uncaring. What new relationships have that the older ones don’t is an absence of conflict, hurt, and resentment. They are shiny new. And anything is possible. And it’s easy to be friends with a nice stranger, you know?
You know what’s easy in an old relationship? Having conflict. Like over anything. Emotionally charged conversations, one right after the other about things that don’t matter and things that do and sometimes over nothing at all – just cause life is tiresome. I always thought it was interesting that while living on this earth, we’re placed together in families made up of people with various personalities. We’re meant to share life and really lean into relationships but with people who don’t think or act like we do. What an interesting study, humans are.
Conflicts are draining and necessary. But there is a way to approach conflict with empathy that will leave everyone feeling energized. Practicing the Benefit of the Doubt is bringing new relationship energy into an old relationship. It’s pretending that you don’t know what that person is about to say. Giving them the chance to evolve and change before your eyes. Do you believe that people can grow emotionally as they age? I definitely think it’s possible.
Is there a relationship that you could throw-a-bone to, in a sense? Could you leave expectations at the door and approach with curiosity and tentativeness? You might try asking a question before making a statement. Or starting with “i feel” instead of “you did…” When we’re actively nursing a wound in a relationship that has a history of past conflict, assuming that someone has the best intentions is gonna be hard work. I’m giving you permission to “fake it til you make it”.
Giving someone the benefit of the doubt creates an environment where healing can occur. It actually takes emotional walls down, connects to the human side of someone and then they feel safe to share their mistakes and engage in meaningful relationships.
How about you? Have you practiced the benefit of the doubt?
Eldest Sister, and Designer @wizardly