Our differences with people sometimes must be set aside.
When I was younger, I took on several such complicated issues, believing the verbal conflict was worth the effort, especially if the other party was critical of me. Some generated an intensity, overheatedness, and tendency to linger because each side wanted the final word.
Too many carried too high a price except as teaching lessons, but I was slow to learn.
Please understand. My default way of living was to get along with others, show respect, and display diplomacy.
Yet, as I reflect on my life, I realize I sometimes went too far to make a point. I recognize that the cost, even when I won, didn’t equal my emotional pain and the injury I inflicted.
I’m not discounting that some with whom I butted heads were dishonest or wrongheaded. I wasn’t false, but not every skirmish in the name of truth, right, or correctness is worth the clash.
Everyone should learn the meaning of “Pyrrhic Victory.” Here is what Wikipedia tells us:
A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Such a victory negates any true sense of achievement or damages long-term progress.
The phrase originates from a quote from Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose triumph against the Romans in the Battle of Asculum in 279 BCE destroyed much of his forces, forcing the end of his campaign.
Anger gets the best of us. When it does, we are not at our best. Moreover, we justify more conflict by all the labor and frustration we’ve endured.
This is called a “Sunk cost.” Wikipedia again comes in handy:
In economics and business decision-making, a sunk cost (also known as retrospective cost) is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered.
In wartime, this means throwing away more lives, contributing to further suffering, and spending money on prolonging what may turn into an endless war. If you long carry a grudge, you risk digging your own grave.
Winning won’t retrieve our honor or the push, pull, and unhappiness of the past. Nor will the dead come back to life.
Concerning personal differences, we need to consider a better way.
Some suggestions may minimize the wrongheadedness of unneeded, unhelpful discord:
- How much do you value the person with whom you are at odds? Will losing or ending the contact be worth whatever is straining your connection?
- Any conflict discussion should discuss concerns, not call names or overtalk the individual on the other side of the table.
- Slow down, take breaks, and cool off. Listen more than you speak. Try to find something you can agree on. Master self-control.
- Accept that some disagreements are unresolvable. Such is life. Those who hold contrary ideas needn’t be monsters.
- Hesitate to say, “If I’d been in his situation, I wouldn’t have acted as he did.” Unless you’ve walked in his shoes, you can’t be sure.
- If the circumstances permit it, express your sensitivity to the other’s feelings, but don’t say, “I know how you feel.”
- Avoid raising your voice or speeding up your standard rate of expression.
- Know yourself. Develop quiet confidence leading to self-assurance. Negative opinions about you will become less impactful. Your self-esteem need not require the approval of people who don’t share your views.
- Practice the art of graceful surrender. If you lead a life of repeated battles, you should first give up the goal of life satisfaction and contentment. Alienating oneself from the human race leaves us in a lonely place.
- Accept the world as a habitat where a landslide win in a U.S. presidential election includes at least 50 million people who don’t want you.
- Be careful of becoming the kind of person you hate.
- You will not obtain vindication or apology from everyone who does you wrong in life. Grieve and come to terms with the inevitable.
- We do not have control of everything, including the notions of others. Work on what you can control.
- Take on tasks within your power that don’t turn your stomach and brain inside out.
- Cultivate humility. Don’t let self-righteousness take you over.
You can do all this and “fight the good fight” on the essential and inescapable conflicts. Even in those cases, we don’t win them all.
The top image is called “Jealousy,” as created by Tumisu. It was sourced from Wikimedia Commons. Laura Hedien’s Sunset Colors in Late May 2022 follows with her permission. It is a joy to feature her artistry: Laura Hedien Official Website.