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Friday, May 21, 2010: Tit for Tat

         It is always tempting when you feel attacked or vulnerable to return tit for tat.  Resist the urge.  If you are on a spiritual path remember that answering to God is a personal and solitary venture.  Your Master or Lord may show you the way to get there, but he is not going to make excuses for your behavior.  "Yah, I acted like a real jerk but someone else started it" will not go far.  Don't let yourself sink to someone else's level.  Act from your own moral code.      

         If you don't relate to the spiritual approach then think about your own power.  Trying to justify your obnoxious and cruel behavior because another person pushed your buttons ignores the fact you're giving that person power over your emotions and the quality of your life.  If you normally are a rational, compassionate and decent person then why let another person reduce you to actions that you'd never dream of initiating from a non-hostile state? 

         Just stop and think about that person who's pushing your buttons.  Is their current behavior something you admire about the person?  Do you really want to emulate their childish behavior?  Live your life by your own standards. 

          That does not mean you have to be a doormat and let people walk all over you.  There are ways to firmly but politely respond so both parties are treated with respect.  Study books or take courses on assertiveness training if this comes hard for you.  

         For starters, realize that (especially if you are psychic or sensitive) getting hit with someone else's negative outburst can disorient your own emotional state.  It's important to check out where the anger originates.  If you identify an outside source, regaining your own balance becomes much easier. 

         If the anger is yours and if you weren't angry before the confrontation, then the antagonist has set off one of your defense systems.  Deal with the immediate conflict in an assertive but non-hostile manner, if possible.  Go easy on yourself if your response is less than desirable.  This is a learning process.  Just be sure you go back later and deal with your defense system.  It will continue to dictate your emotional reactions until you get back to its source and resolve your own fears or turmoil.

          When resolving immediate conflicts it helps to remember that fights usually flair up over superficial topics.  The real issues are differences in underlying needs. Try to find solutions that meet the needs of both parties. If you find yourself battling the same issue over and over, you might try changing your attitudes, habits and patterns of reacting. Try this even when you are sure the other person is at fault. Of course, it is easier if both people are willing to change, but even if one person changes the way they respond it may be enough to break a repeating pattern of interaction.

          In situations where basic needs or belief systems are mutually exclusive and there seems to be no compromise, look at changing the patterns that lead up to the conflict.  This is a slower process but may be the only hope of resolving continual battles.

          Conflicts on a national or international scale may require significant social changes aimed at long-term solutions.  Both sides must dig deeply in the search until an answer is found that both sides accept with equal commitment and responsibility.  For example: by now we know America is divided over abortion.  We can safely predict that each side will never be convinced by the logic, emotions or beliefs of the other side.  So . . . quit pointing fingers.  Maybe an earlier stage of the problem provides a focal point better suited to a joint solution.

              Maybe the question "Is the option of abortion right or wrong," should be changed to a more fundamental question: "Why, in today's world, with all our resources, do we have so many unwanted pregnancies?"  Maybe rather than argue the same issue for another forty years we should look at building a foundation that provides better options and builds more responsible behavior.

Posted on Friday, May 21, 2010 at 06:53AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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