Feb 26, 2012

How to stay healthy...Fight Fair, a short refresher course!

Angry Talk (Comic Style)Image via Wikipedia

I am in the mood to brush up on the rules for having a fair fight.  I just don't think there such a thing as a "good fight" so I avoid them at all cost.  But I know that it never hurts to take a refresher course.  Whether you are arguing with the cable guy or your significant other, the rules are about the same. You can just change the words and apply them to your frustrating situation.  It will work just fine.

How to have a brawl!
I am going to start at the end of the fight gone wrong just to get your attention.  You know, that is the part where both parties are frozen because the discussion has wandered off course.  The famous Dr. Phil call this part a free for all.  We all know that every disagreement triggers memories of other quarrels/frustrations that trigger memories of yet other quarrels and the cycle goes on and on.  In the end everyone has forgotten what made them so angry to begin with.  If you really want to have a brawl don't set any bounderies around the issue...wander all over everything, call each other names and walk away feeling frustrated and really ticked.  That is what I call a brawl.

Having said that, let's see if we can remember how to avoid a brawl in the living room.

What are the Rules?
Every "how to" list has a couple of things that puzzle you. I don't know about you guys but when we quarrel it is not a planned event. I don't get up in the morning and say to myself "I think I will make my husband really mad today so we can discuss dish doing." A fight happens because we become emotional over something and had not planned to. We can't remain task oriented because we don't know what the task is until we have the fight!  However, when I go to the bank to complain I know what I am going for.  That is different!

I happen to feel that the three items at the core of the list are the most important. These are the three that prevent that "free for all" I spoke about above. Surely every couple can remember 3 things.  Keeping it relevant, real and civilized. In other words stay on the subject, resist the temptation to relate this quarrel with another one long gone and don't go for the jugular.
  • Put a fence around the quarrel. (relevant)  In fact, if you can resist the temptation, wait until you actually know what it is that has made you angry. The talk about that.  
  • If you can't wait, get real...we often jump immediately to the symptom of the issue. Example:  The fact that the partner ate all the ice cream when you wanted some too may not be the issue.  In the heat of the moment you may not even realize why that makes you so angry. Then after you gather your wits you might be able to figure out what made you angry. Or you could even decide that the ice cream wasn't that important! In the end you will come to realize that you often deal with the symptom (a craving for ice cream) and don't actually ever solve the real problem.  
  • Don't act like a cavemen/women! Let's all remain civil and considerate. I have come to realize that it is not what we say in many cases. It is the tone of our voice. Character assassination is a mean and low form of verbal abuse. Remember phrases like "you always..."  "you are so selfish, thoughtless, dishonest, stupid when....", "this is just like that time you...."  don't help at all.  
Health issues and fighting fair.
Older people really are not different than young people. Our behavior remains the same only we become a more skilled both in good ways and in bad. Fighting fair at our age is more important than ever.  When my father had his first heart attack my mother said she never "crossed" him again. She was afraid that he might die. She was very wise. She knew that anger out of control is one of the most disabling emotions we possess. A website called Help Guide had this to say:
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, but it’s unhealthy when it flares up all the time or spirals out of control. Chronic, explosive anger can have serious consequences for your relationships, your health, and your state of mind.
The words "explosive anger" relate back to knowing all the rules. According to the Help Guide there are mythes about anger that need to be dispelled.  It turns out that venting in anger is not a healthy thing at all and those that think "bullying" in anger gets them respect are very wrong. In fact, the opposite is true. Some people claim that they cannot help themselves when they lash out in anger in a destructive way. Actually, the anger is not the problem, it is how you respond when you get angry.  In fact, classes on anger management do not teach you not to become angry. They teach you to control your response.

If you or someone you know has this problem you can read what an expert has to say over at Help Guide.  Tips AND TECHNIQUES FOR GETTING ANGER UNDER CONTROL is an article we could all benefit from.

Lets review:
Just like a game of basketball. life has rules.  That is how we manage to live on the face of this earth.  Playing fair is not only good for our relationships with others...it is good for our health. There you have it!

Have a wonderful day.

b

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