“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
For as long as I can remember I have been the type of personality that has tried to avoid conflict. Sometimes this decision worked in my favor, but unfortunately most times it had an adverse effect on my relationships or view of them. And on other occasions it had an impact on the other persons view of me. Well I could plug-in the old adage that I would rather be known as a lover than a fighter to make an excuse, (and it really is true) or use the adage to give me license to take action in a non-actionable manner, if that makes sense. At the end of the day I am still the one left with the bag of goodies created by my own unwillingness to engage (stuff) based on fear, being overly concerned with another’s opinion or simply refusing to exert the necessary energy to fight anymore. There are obviously as many options as there are people along with the endless amount of scenarios that we could find ourselves faced with, but the point I am trying to make is what happens when the arguments stop and more importantly, why do they stop at all?
So perhaps you are one of those many adults that experienced your parents arguing a lot when you were a child. Although I can relate, this is not what I am referring to when I speak of arguing. However, those of us that were exposed to this type of environment tend to either retreat from conflict at all cost or run to it with gloves on. In other words we may be a little out of balance when it comes to engaging or debating during heated conversations, whether we have become overly sensitive due to what we heard for years and how it made us feel or we find ourselves responding to what we believe was unfair treatment, and we make the choice to declare war on anyone that reminds us of how it felt to become the small one during an argument.
I am not here to pass judgement on whichever way you may find yourself going more often than not, but I am here to ask what happens when the argument (within us) stops? Perhaps for now I should use another word for argument, like fighting for what you believe in to make my point clearer.
I can remember one of my first learned lessons about relationships was the differences between love, hate and indifference. I always understood that love was the opposite of hate, but I was reading a book many years ago on relationships and the author depicted a couple that came to him for marital counseling. During the visits there were many heated discussions full of rage and hostility. They kept coming and kept fighting until one day the wife no longer fought. She sat in silence during their sessions. The new behavior bewildered the husband, but the counselor knew all to well what was happening. The wife, let’s call her Janet had become disillusioned and indifferent about their marriage. She was ready to give up and believed her words, energy and effort to fight were no longer a worthy mission.
Something happen to Janet on the inside that so many of us are familiar with. Her willingness to fight/argue begin to cease. She became indifferent. I compare it to flying a kite. The kite represents “the relationship, situation or object. The string represents our tie or connection to that relationship, and the hand that holds the string represents our desire to remain connected to it. Love represents a real connection that will inspire us and help us navigate through duress. It will help us remain connected during tough times and see them through, therefore we will hold onto that kite during the storms and windy conditions.
Hate, although on the opposite spectrum can have a similar impact, albeit usually to our detriment if we do not use good judgement. Even when we allegedly hate someone, there is still a very strong connection that keeps us bound to them. Sometimes that is enough to continue to fight through adversity as well. Just having that type of tie can keep us there in the battle at times, however when we become indifferent that is dangerous.
This is when we no longer have any emotion towards the situation or person. We will walk away without anything, even when we deserve more, if that means we can be free from the circumstance. This person has completely let the kite go and does not even look to see it fly away. Anyone been there?
There are obviously an array of circumstances that can bring us to this place and I do not want to over simply anyone’s situation, but it is important that we consider our own state of mind in this regard. Whether you are fighting for a marriage, career, justice or a strong belief in something, it is essential to take a periodic inventory on where you stand on the scale of love, hate or indifference while there is still an opportunity to move in one direction or the other.
When you think about what gets you out of the bed in the morning or what propels you to continue on the battle field for another day, this is “that thing”, “the fight” that is essential to winning, staying the course and holding true during hardships.
Like so many, there are times when I have held on strong and other times I have given up prematurely. Life is like that sometimes, but I have taken note of the signs that come to warn me what state I am in. Signs like:
1. Becoming easily irritated with the person involved or situation.
2. I no longer desire to communicate about the issue or with the person.
3. I distance myself from the person or issue more frequently.
4. The conversations I do have are void of meaningfulness and I seek to escape rather than draw closer.
5. I make assumptions based on my own given facts that may not be necessarily proven.
6. My ideas and thoughts about the circumstance or person become overwhelmingly negative or hopeless.
There are times when walking away will be the best thing for us and other times when we need to continue to stand. It is a matter of knowing the balance, and hopefully we can learn how to effectively navigate ourselves through this when the time present itself.
Even for that select group who sorely dislikes to argue, like me. We will all have those moments where fighting is just the right thing to do. So whether you are fighting for yourself or a worthy cause, stand for what you believe in, with and without words.
An act of defiance may be just what is required to stir things up bit and get things realigned, and perhaps you are the one assigned to the mission.