Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimension." What an encouraging statement. We should strive to welcome new ideas and changes, but when it comes to relationships, it’s often difficult to do.
Before we can change negative habits, we have to become aware of our patterns and be willing to alter them in order to improve our relationships. Below are some bad habits I’ve seen in my practice. Let’s take a look at some of these habits and see if we’re ready to stretch our minds around new ideas.
Are You a Person Who…
• Cannot tolerate being wrong? This habit reflects one’s desire to win in all circumstances. This person enjoys showing others that he is right and better. He always has to have the last word. But is it worth it? What do others think of such a person? If you have a problem admitting that you’re wrong, try losing a game or stopping an argument-even though you’re confident that you can win or that you are right.
• Negates others’ opinions? We do it by offering unsolicited advice in every circumstance. We may argue, saying, "but," or "no," or "however," or "let me show you a better way!" to suggest our superiority. Just being aware of this habit can help you alleviate it.
• Doesn’t give credit where credit is due? When people are doing a good job and we don’t acknowledge it, they may feel taken for granted. See what a simple statement like, "I really appreciate you helping me with the laundry this weekend," can do to improve your spouse’s mood.
• Uses sarcasm often? Frequent use of cutting comments like, "A toddler could mow the lawn better than you," does nothing but sow seeds of discord into a relationship. Become aware of how often you use such statements and work toward stopping the sarcasm.
• Emphasizes your own importance and minimizes the worth of others? A husband may argue with his wife, saying that his job is more difficult than hers. Such self-centeredness damages relationships. Put yourself in the position of the other person and try to appreciate their responsibilities.
• Will not say you’re sorry? Some people may realize that they are wrong, but think they can do something to compensate for their mistakes. For example, a boss who has just overreacted to his subordinate may buy him lunch instead of confessing his mistake. A heartfelt apology demonstrates that you understand your error, value the person you hurt, and don’t intend to repeat the behavior.
Remember the wise words of Oliver Wendell Holmes and stretch your mind. My hope is that you can challenge yourself, or, better yet, ask others to challenge you. Once stretched, you’re on a path to becoming a better person.
Gloria So-Lloyd is a licensed psychologist and a licensed clinical social worker. Dr. So-Lloyd received her Masters degree at the University of Oklahoma and her Doctorate in Counseling Psychology at Oklahoma State University. She is a blessed wife and a mother of four. Dr. So-Lloyd may be reached at 405-340-4321 (the office with Paul Tobin, Ph.D. and Ann Benjamin, LPC).