Definition of “my way or the highway” – An expression suggesting an ultimatum which indicates the listener(s) will either conform to the desires or teachings of the speaker or else be excluded.
Have you ever had to deal with someone with that kind of attitude? He or she seems to have the solution for the problem before you even begin to share your point of view. It is difficult to have a discussion or resolve conflict with someone who is convinced they are right and you are wrong, as though those are the only two options.
What if there is a third,fourth, or even more options that are not even considered because this person knows one fact: his or her way is right!
Or is it?
With that mindset, this person could be simply sweeping the problem out of sight, but the problem was never dealt with because the complete picture was never even considered.
I recently had a conversation with someone where I believed I was right and their perspective was wrong. I was so convinced I was right that I was blind to any way of thinking other than my own. Conversely, they felt the same way about their opinion, which led to having a rather difficult, hurtful conversation. That could have been avoided had we not been so steeped in “our way” kind of thinking.
So how do we navigate through problems we face in a healthy way? How do we balance this tension between “my way” and “your way,” and not be that person with such black-and-white thinking?
Consider the ocean – the waves come in and go out constantly. How practical is it that the waves only come into shore? Or the waves only go out? We can see how silly this would be. Our opinion is the equivalent of the waves going out, but when we listen to others and truly hear what they are saying, we allow the waves of thought to enter in, giving us a better picture of the situation. This opens our perspective to other facts and allows us to see new possibilities. We may still come to the same conclusion on the matter, but at least we stopped to take the time to consider the other person’s perspective.
Some of life’s biggest challenges are filled with tension like waves going in and out constantly. We can find success in handling those challenges by managing those tensions in such a way that we have a balanced solution for each problem. Like a riptide that is working against us, we have to learn how to levy that undercurrent, enabling us to go in the right direction.
Here are a few things to consider as you balance the tension between “your way” and “someone else’s way”:
- Ask yourself: Do I have all the facts? Proverbs 18:13 “He who answers before listening– that is his folly and his shame.”
- Ask a lot of questions. Remember there are two sides to a story. Proverbs 18: 17 “The first one to plead his case seems right, until another comes and cross-examines him.”
- Is the pressure of time forcing me to make a premature decision? Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to want.”
- Acknowledge you have blind spots. What possible motives are driving your decision? Proverbs 16:2 “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
At the end of the day, we all want to make wise choices. We all have different ways of thinking, and there is a balance to be managed as you go through life with others. Take a step back and fully be open to another way, another perspective and another mindset.