When I was in my early twenties I had a terrible habit of fighting everything and everyone head on. If something slightly out-of-the-way was said, I’d have to make it right. If some injustice was done, there I was fixing it whether it was my issue or not. I had gone from being abused in all my early years to not being willing to stand down to anything. I was often reminded by others of the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” but I never got the hint. I sweated the small stuff and honestly? I sweated about everything like a boxer in a sudden death round.
I’d just love to look back here and say that I was a quick learner but that would be a huge lie. It took me YEARS, a divorce, losing some people who I really cared about and then some good old-fashioned growing up before I could even see that my attack mode behaviour was not helping me or anyone else very much at all. Eventually I took notice and paid more attention to the lessons that life was trying to teach me and I did begin to learn albeit very slowly.
Backing away from a potential argument or correcting some injustice always felt like I was going backwards and allowing others to negatively affect my life again so it wasn’t an easy thing to stop doing.
I started forcing myself to have one night of sleep before dealing with bigger issues. I was AMAZED by how much crap just really doesn’t matter by the next day. That alone cut my disagreements with others in half.
My next step was to begin asking myself if this pressing issue was really going to matter in a week, a month or a year. Quite frankly? Very little does. If you can recall the topic of a fight that you had a year ago and still feel angry about it today? It had to be a very important issue for you because truthfully? Most stuff just doesn’t matter.
Of course there are always the “non negotiable” lines that no one may ever cross and do deserve an immediate response. Hurting my children, being downright rude or mean to me, causing harm to any fellow human being or doing something that will cause lasting damage. I will always stand up to those types of fights.
The issue is not these types of things though. It is the daily stuff that we get all bent out of shape over that just does not really matter long-term. Someone forgets to call you, your cake tastes gross or get burned, your husband flicked through channels for an hour straight and lets face it… you want to shove that remote… well… you know. The fridge door got left opened, your child lost their shoes AGAIN, the floor has more dog hair on it than the dog, you bought light-bulbs and NONE work, the line-up in the store is crazy, the drive-through got your order wrong… the daily nuisances are never-ending. They may be never-ending but they are only a problem if you choose to make them one.
In a week, a month, or a year, will any of those things still matter? Not likely!
I have no idea where I heard this saying but it is brilliant and it has stuck with me for many years. “We don’t need to attend every argument that we get invited to.” It seems so obvious but it wasn’t to me. I see many people on a daily basis that it is not obvious to either. If you are one of those people? HINT HINT!!! 😉
I am tested a little too often for my liking to be honest but I am actually getting really good at chilling out. Most people who have met me over the past 10 years probably won’t even realize what a hot button firecracker I was. If they have never seen that in me? I will take that as a compliment. 🙂
I have finally realized that a long line in a store doesn’t move any faster just because I am annoyed, food doesn’t arrive faster in a restaurant if I moan about how starving I am, people will not drive faster if I get right up behind them in an attempt to bully them out of my way (they actually tend to slow down which makes me wish I had bumpers surrounding my vehicle and could bounce them out of my way… okay… I have some work to do on this one still). Being moody does not really help with much at all. People tend to steer clear of you rather than want to help you.
I was tested big time during this past week and not fighting back even as insults flew in my direction was hard. I stood my ground though and remained calm and polite. Two thing happened. One, I didn’t end up ruining a few days of my life getting all worked up about it and fighting back. Secondly? It is only those people who’ve done any damage at all to themselves. Truthfully it just didn’t matter and when cooler heads prevail on their side of the fence, we can just work it out like adults should. Calmly and with compassion for each other. I don’t need to like what happened, I don’t need to agree with it, and I certainly don’t need to make it worse by joining in.
Perhaps we can all make this world just a little nicer to live in by learning to not attend every argument that we are invited to.
Have a great weekend everyone!