As a kid, you probably learned that, when faced with a confrontation, you should take a deep breath and count to 10. Why is it so tough to remember that same wise advice now as an adult?
When you find yourself wanting to fight, for whatever reason, it's important to take a moment not to count to 10, but to ask yourself a couple of crucial questions.
Is this fight about something that really needs to be dealt with? For instance, does it really matter if your significant other is wearing something you disapprove of? and the next question...
Will getting into a "battle" harm a relationship? Obviously this question is especially vital if you're about to get into a confrontation with a loved one or an authority figure, such as your boss; but, in a world in which your argument in the checkout line can be captured on video and posted online, it has wider ramifications.
When you take the time to ask these questions (which shouldn't take more than 10 seconds), you start to move out of the realm of the emotional and into the realm of the logical - and by doing this, you can avoid harming yourself and your relationships.
When you stop viewing every interaction as something to be won or lost, you're better able to focus on the other person with a view to understanding their perspective and creating a connection with them.
When you approach others in this manner, they're likely to respond in kind. You may not enjoy the satisfaction of winning a battle, but you'll forge a bond that's worth far more than a momentary feeling of triumph. Sometimes "choosing your battles" means recognizing that not everything has to be a battle.
Another reason it's important to choose your battles is that it's so easy to use up all your energy on confrontations that don't move your life forward in any meaningful way.
Think about the time you spend on social media. What have you really accomplished when you spend your time trying to prove a point in a comments thread? Not only does the interaction end up draining you both emotionally and intellectually, but you probably haven't changed anyone's mind, and now you're left feeling tired and exhausted. Why not save that emotional energy for the things that truly matter to you? If you find yourself arguing online for a cause that you care passionately about, turn that energy into doing something that truly advances your cause.
The idea of choosing your battles doesn't mean you should never stand up for what you believe in. It does mean, however, that you should choose wisely.
My challenge for you this week:
Learn how to pick and choose your battles wisely by taking the following steps:
Each day, be conscious of the times that you differ in opinion with others.
For each occasion, conduct a cost-benefit analysis when deciding whether to voice your objection to the other person's perspective.
Only if there is a benefit to voicing your perspective, find a tactful way to do so, but maintain a good relationship with the other person.
When you take the steps to choose wisely, you preserve your relationships and you have more energy available to advance both yourself and the causes you believe in.