In a World of Fight

Turn on your light.

Posted Jan 21, 2021

Source: simonapilolla/iStock

Open up any current social media format, or read about a retail store where people are fighting about masks or a flight where someone is asked to get off a plane, and you will find people accusing one another of the most terrible things. It seems the best way to address an issue is simply to fight about it; insult someone else, stamp your feet, post something (often without sourcing it) that is callous and mean, and think you are somehow contributing to anything.

Humans are wired for fight or flight in stressful circumstances. We know this because it is ingrained in our ancestry. If our ancestors were not wired this way, the human species would have likely died out quite some time ago. Unfortunately, we carry this response mechanism forward, and especially in times of stress, the fight-or-flight response is on full display. In certain circumstances, where you are standing in the middle of the street and a car careens going too fast around the corner, your fight-or-flight mechanism forces you to jump out of the way without even thinking about it, saving your life. There can be good stress responses, too; sometimes you might need to defend your child who is being bullied and might need to be direct and ask for action, or you might see bad guys coming down a dark alley and need to change direction quickly. In most instances, however, this response isn’t helpful and it is very hurtful.

Have you ever sent an accusatory email or mouthed off to your boss, only to regret both activities later? Have you been pulled into a fight on Facebook where you engaged with someone and you knew you weren’t going to change their mind? Have you threatened someone who doesn’t think like you, or look like you, or have the same concerns or issues you experience? There are many cases in everyday life where you essentially waste a reasonable response that could move you in a more positive direction, because you let the fight syndrome kick in. 

It’s hard to refrain from being part of it; after all, there are some pretty serious things going on. If you care about something, no matter what your viewpoint of care might be, you might struggle to refrain from losing your cool and just let someone have it! During these virtual times, many people aren’t sleeping as well or managing their stress effectively, and the buildup means that it is so much easier to just let it rip. 

However, in almost every case, losing your cool and fighting or being part of the world of fight isn’t gaining you anything. In fact, it drains you. You can lose focus on and interest in the important things when you stay angry so often. You can miss opportunities to thrive with new changes or by learning something new because you are stuck in a negative place. If things are ever going to change, each person has to ask what they want their life to be. Do you want to be known as someone who fought all of the time and was negative and angry, or as someone who was a bit of a light and beacon in the darkness? It doesn’t mean you don’t stand up for your rights, your ideals, your commitment to change, and that you don’t take action wherever possible. It just means you take the right sort of action to help make the shift rather than being part of the problem.

Rascal Flatts’ song, “How They Remember You,” commemorating their 20 years together, has a couple of important lyrics:

It wasn’t ’til I saw my daddy’s name in stone I knew
It ain’t a question of if they will
It’s how they remember you

You will be remembered; everyone will be, somehow. If you want to be remembered as a light, rather than part of the fight, consider the steps you can take to do this to begin this 2021 year.

Be a friend—call someone who never calls you, visit someone you have been talking about visiting for some time, send a card or small gift just to say you are thinking about someone.

Care for resources—take just what you need and no more, share what you have with others if you can afford to do so, be interested in nature and species other than human beings, fill a bird feeder.

Take a (positive) chance—tell that person you like them, try a new exercise (assuming you are in the physical shape to do so), volunteer where you have been thinking about it, update your resume, make the move you have been thinking about for some time.

Refrain from negativity—if it isn’t right or good, don’t do it. Don’t say it if you know before the words come out you will regret it. Don’t let the person egging you on win by their negativity, and don’t waste your time convincing people who don’t want to be convinced they are wrong. 

Value time as much as money—$86,400 sounds like a lot of money but the same amount of seconds in a day aren’t viewed as valuable; have plans and priorities but also stop to notice what’s around you. Rushing through each day just to get to the next one is a miserable existence, so value each breath and each moment as if it were true wealth, because it is.