Some people love to argue and debate over every little thing, like they need to constantly spar with someone to feel productive. I happen to have one of those people in my life in a very up close and personal kind of way.
He is wired to win and dominate. I am wired to understand and be understood. Arguing always gets us nowhere fast. I see how he interacts with his friends, colleagues and random people and he thrives on his ability to out-talk and out-strategize others.
I don’t get it.
If it’s all about winning, then I don’t want to play. You win. Enjoy. I hope it’s rewarding.
I’d rather understand what he is feeling and what makes him do what he does. Let’s pick apart our intentions and our assumptions and figure out what got lost in translation. But, no. The disconnect is only aggravated by our variant choices in delivery. I need time to process and think. My voice may quiver and my eyes may water, both from frustration. I am saturated with flowing thoughts and waves of emotion as I try to find the perfect words, waiting for my turn to speak or interrupting if it doesn’t come fast enough. Hardly able to listen and think at the same time, I get lost in the way his tone and the delivery of his words make me feel.
Arguments shut me down.
This used to really bother me because I felt I didn’t have enough self-esteem or fight in me to stick up for myself. I would either shut down and run away or completely lash out, saying the loudest, most hurtful things I could. Fight or flight. I didn’t like it either way and I got tired of doing this over and over and not knowing how to control myself. Eventually I learned how to change this pattern and many other distracting habits and I’ll tell you how in a minute.
You see I would act out because I didn’t understand what was happening inside of me, why I felt so much anger, often over such small things. When any part of your consciousness goes unexplored, it has the power to control you. You know you have those moments when you ask yourself, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I control myself? Why do I let this person get to me this way?”
It’s not about the other person changing their behavior because there will always be someone who will test you. You have to do the work to understand yourself so you can change how you respond to it.
When I began to identify with being an introvert and a highly sensitive person, that is when I learned that my strength is not in lashing out. My strength is in doing what I do naturally. I don’t make judgments in terms of right and wrong and black and white. I try to understand the person’s intention and if I can’t understand, I just listen. I am aggressively gentle and I won’t yell to be heard. I won’t be pressured to make sweeping conclusions or statements before I’m ready. I’ve learned how to say that I need time to think about it. I don’t fuel the fire, I wait for it to fizzle out and then I try to find the source.
I have no desire to beat anyone, outsmart them or punish them with my rightness. Instead of who’s right — which is completely subjective anyway — I care about the growth. How can we grow from this and be more open and aware next time?
I don’t question if this is an acceptable way to feel anymore. This is who I am and how I show it. That’s my conviction.
If you feel the same way, let this be your permission to stop feeling pressured to compete, argue and explain yourself. Nothing has made a bigger difference in my life than doing the inner work to understand how I think and why I react to things the way I do.
Here are just a few ways that personal awareness has changed my life and can change yours too:
* Decreased anxiety and susceptibility to petty arguments
* Improved self-concept as you see yourself exhibiting more self-control and conviction
* Less talking yourself out of things because you’re worried about who will challenge or criticize
* Less victimized thinking and giving your power away
* Improved quality of relationships all around
* More peace of mind in the midst of uncertainty
* Increased creativity and sense of purpose
* More conviction and strength to stand your ground
I want everyone to face their self-doubt and experience the benefits of self-discovery in a way that inspires creativity and new ideas for living.
How much do we hold ourselves back and dim our light from the world when we get stifled in our own self-doubts? I’m on a mission to change that.