What was it about? As often happens, it’s hard to remember a day or two later, but here it is: I mentioned a friend was coming over, my significant other became somewhat agitated (my view), and I because somewhat agitated at that (what, I have no rights here?!).
But none of this really matters. All that does is, who was right and who was wrong. Right? Wrong. All that matters is that we made up. Right? Wrong again. Well, half right – making up is good, what is better is what was learned.
But you say (and I say), fights like these (let’s call them reactive) have a tendency to repeat themselves, so what does it matter what we learn. That’s not an optimistic point of view, but still a point well taken. And it raises the question – is there something we can learn, or some way we can learn, that makes it more possible for our behaviors to shift, so we don’t follow the same path down the spiral, down, down , down.
Age old question. Books are written, hours and hours or years and years of therapy address the issue of, let’s now call it conflict resolution. So what do I have to contribute this massive body of work? One word: REACTIONS. What are they? Who owns them? And most of all – so what? What’s the big deal about this commonly known and worn out expression, reactions? “Oh he’s just reacting!” I tell you, just hearing that phrase, at the wrong time, and I AM REACTING!
So I’ve made the point – the idea of reacting is a common one, one most of us are familiar with one way or another. But do we really know what it means to react? Is reaction a reasonable and expected action, as in jumping out of the way of a moving car, and/or an approach that should first be reasoned, as when first hearing of an IRS audit? Again, for most of us, examples like these might result in a yawn rather than an inspired discussion. Am I boring you yet? And is that a reasonable reaction, or one that requires a reasoned approach?
When an argument spirals out of control, bouncing back and forth like a tennis ball with each participant swinging so the ball can’t be returned – at that stage, if we were to stop, we could try to unravel the steps, and at each turn try to identify who made what point, and how reasonable each point was. Until we make it all the way back to the beginning, where maybe there was a misunderstood phrase, or someone wasn’t being very empathetic, or we find out I was really angry about the IRS audit and not about what you said all along! That’s how it goes, am I right? (“Who does this blogger think he is…’am I right’ Ha! Pontificating blow-hard!) Sorry, that’s just me reacting to myself.
One of the tricky things about reactions is that we all want the right to have them: if I’m angry, I have the right to express that; if I think I am right, or you are wrong, it’s my duty to stick up for myself and tell you to your face. My reactions are reasonable. Or they’re not – I apologize for yelling, and/or I’m sorry I made you cry. I all of this, we are still living in the world of right and wrong, when reactions are occurring in a realm of a mental state.
Right or wrong, reacting is a mental state. And in the moment, until one acknowledges that and reasons the consequences of that, one is at the mercy of the emotion behind the reaction. And by the way, did you have a reaction the the photo here? The cans I’m holding should be beer cans but alas they are bug repellent.