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How to finally stop fighting the wrong battles in your life
“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” –Sun Tzu
1) Figure out which battles are worth the fight
Being in a position of constant opposition is not a sustainable lifestyle. It can lead to chronic or severe stress that may possibly induce more serious health problems. What that means is we all need to pick and choose our battles.
Look at the big picture.
As a coach, my plan of attack much of the time is to start with the big picture and work backwards. When you’re feeling anxious or obsessive about winning, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- What would your ideal end result look like?
- How important is that ideal for you?
- And how could the fight ‘cost’ you?
There is one more question that many of us won’t answer correctly, but give it a try:
Is this about my ego?
When ego is play, we justify the altercation as being about something else. (That’s why I said this answer is rarely answered honestly)! Ego is a very common factor in battles, and I rarely see it end well when ego is in control.
Money is another common basis for taking on a struggle. I personally believe one should take the ‘high road’ in this case, only because money comes and goes and is rarely worth losing your mind over.
However, tell that to the single parent working at least one full-time job to make ends meet. (Or anyone else who is working their butt off).
In that particular example, money is representing more than it’s monetary value. It’s representing time, effort and integrity of that single parent and the wellbeing of his or her children – which is then what he/she is actually fighting for.
Whether money is a right or wrong battle depends on how you view it.
But no matter what’s coming in to play as you face a battle, asking yourself the three basic questions will help put the situation into perspective so you can gain a better sense of control over your positioning.
2) No you don’t have to defend yourself!
So, somebody picks a fight with you or pisses you off and now it’s war. The natural reaction for anyone is to defend themselves. In the case of harm or abuse, you must absolutely defend yourself.
In a scenario involving only disputing, there is a stigma that you’re considered a wimp or doormat if you choose not to defend yourself. When, in actuality, you’re the more stronger and confident person by not engaging.
Input from the universe
So, the universe was kind of helping me out on this blog by offering some first-hand experience. Just yesterday, I was blasted on social media for a comment I wrote. It came out of the blue, and the attacker got personal – I felt like I got punched in the stomach.
Right reaction v. wrong reaction
My gut reaction was anger and I should blast him back. But, no, that would definitely be stooping to his level. Then my inner-coach was like ‘we should look at this from his perspective’. So then I was much more civil and thought maybe I should just admit that I don’t understand how my comment was offensive and it certainly wasn’t coming from a bad place.
I continued to go through every possible scenario of defending myself until I implored why it was so important that I defend myself to some avatar. (Because of course online rage-a-holics never use their real picture). It was important to me that I defend myself because I was embarrassed that I might look dumb, and I was afraid that I would be viewed as weak for not fighting back and risk the possibility of enduring more beatings from this person or someone else who felt like throwing a punch.
So I chose not to engage. Not so shockingly, life is carrying on as normal. I’m still alive and I saved myself the stress and negativity of becoming engrossed in combat.
And life goes on…
I’m now telling you firsthand, you will still live even if you don’t defend yourself in a battle that is irrelevant in the big picture.
Think of how many battles you face each day. Staying in bed vs. getting out of bed; egg whites vs French toast; gym vs. sitting on the couch. Those examples were primarily for an individual with no family obligations. If you have a spouse and kids, you might have filled your hundred-battle quota by noon. And if you leave the house – forget about it – commuting battles, coffee line-cutters, co-workers….ugh!
Use positive motivation
Let’s not look at these as battles anymore. You might curse me out when I say this, but give it a try. Find the positives in the difficult scenarios and then move forward with that motivation and desired outcome.
For example, I’ll go back to my online rage-a-holic encounter. People who are mean (or bully-ish)tend to impact and change their victims. My motivation was to maintain my own beliefs and positivity and not let this person ruin my day or change my behavior. My adjusted outlook allowed me to carry on with my life and brush the person off like an annoying bug.
My best advice when switching from conflict to positive motivation is to have confidence in yourself and what you believe is best for you.