I live on an island. You have to cross two bridges to get to my home. I chose this location specifically because of its defensive positioning; because this island, and more specifically, my home are both well stocked, we have the advantage during a zombie invasion. Hey, you never know. (Just kidding. I picked this area because it’s a little slice of small-town Mayberry mixed with big-town conveniences. Plus, our island has the best food and drinks, and the friendliest merchants. But I digress.)
I was driving over one of the first bridges today and my motorcycle’s front tire seemed to wobble and veer a little more than usual. If you’ve ever driven a bike across a bridge, you know that there’s usually a steel grating to traverse, and sometimes this grating can grab your front tire and shake up your ride a bit.
Newbs tend to slow down over these grates and fight to keep the wheel under complete control. This is not only stressful, but ineffective, and potentially dangerous. They learn in time that it’s better just to let the wheel go where it will, with only the minimum amount of tension needed to control the direction of the bike.
I’ve noticed more fighting in this community (and like it or not, that’s what this is) than ever. Friends of mine are being attacked on and off of facebook, and everywhere I look, someone’s surprised at how crazy everyone else’s gotten.
Guess what? People are crazy. They always have been and always will be. Until the recent exposure to potentially thousands of people at once via facebook, we weren’t fully aware of how many people could be crazy, all at the same time.
And here’s another thing: there will always be someone who disagrees with you. Sure, you say, Of course there will! I know that! Yet somehow, someone’s always surprised at this revelation, and can’t move on until the perceived wrong has been made right.
And then you fight and fight and fight. And you justify this by reminding yourself that you are in the right. You might very well be, but the truth still remains that if you always fight for your perfect world, you’ll spend most of your life fighting battles. Does that sound like a perfect world to you?
Marta Driesslein, career strategist, says, “I share with my clients that they should strategically choose the battles that are worth the wounds. Most are not. The battles that should be fought should never be about us or posturing, or retribution for something, or someonethat wronged us. Unfortunately, most are.”
Think of the most level-headed person you know, someone who rarely raises their voice, or says things before giving them some thought. Not to call him out, but I believe my teammate Kory Schaubhut (EON) is just such a person. It can be said that many of us have yet to hear a malicious statement come from Kory. I’ve never heard the guy yelling at anyone, and I know I’ll never have to witness Kory unleashing his fury in a Hulk-like scene. During recent online “debates” (I’m in a good mood, I’ll use euphemisms), Kory was consistently the voice of reason positioned between two warring parties. His comments were peppered with more than a few attempts at bringing one to see the other’s point of view, if only temporarily. He’s not perfect, but his habit of pausing to consider before responding is something that we could all learn from.
And speaking of learning, how well do you know yourself? Written on my vanity mirror are the words “Temet nosce” and “Defigo temet.” Loosely translated, they mean “Know thyself” and “fix thyself.” I know what’s wrong with me now, and I’m finding more everyday. But I’m also learning how to fix myself. I know that my knee-jerk response to an unkind statement is usually something along the lines of “HULK SMASH!” But I’m working on it. All habits take time to develop and set into place. Are you someone who, in a fit of rage, can’t wait to give the offender a piece of your mind? Maybe you should keep that piece for yourself.
If you can’t adopt a greater spirit of acceptance towards those whose ideals differ from yours, at least learn some new, healthier ways to handle your reactions when faced with those differing viewpoints.
Try the age-old technique of counting from 1-10. Try breathing and letting go of excessive emotion. This doesn’t mean that your reaction was incorrect, it just means that you might have too much of a response going on right now to be commensurate with the offense. Once your head is calm, more clear, you can ask yourself these things before responding, especially if your response will be in the written form.
Are the consequences of this argument worth it?
What’s the conflict really about? Is there an underlying issue?
Can this argument solve something?
Are you fighting just because you feel you’ve been challenged and can’t let it go?
Do you always have to have the last word, or are you a big enough person to just let the conflict go?
Ask yourself, “Am I really right? Does it matter if I’m right? Is there really a ‘right or wrong’ for this issue?”
Is this something that’ll matter in a month?
It’s true that, of all our emotions, anger is the most stressful, the most taxing. If you are constantly angry, constantly bickering, what part of you is left for the things and the people you love?
Reserve your battles for truly important issues. You may want to fight for justice when someone has been harassed, abused, or slandered. You may want to fight for an issue that will make your community a better place in which to live. You may want to fight for a new law that is more just. Do not waste your time fighting with those who can’t hear you, are unreasonable, or are focused on a goal that has nothing to do with you. In the words of Sun Tsu, “Choose your battles wisely, and do not fight battles you cannot win.”
READ: Do not fight with trolls.
Re-evaluate your priorities, choose your battles wisely, and practice thinking before acting. The steel grates of life will always try to steer your wheels in another direction; just relax and calmly ride it out. Sometimes, that’s all you can do.