Fight or flight: When to stand our ground and when to walk away.

I have often asked myself when is the right time to stand up and not take any more crap from someone! Of course I am usually asking myself this when I am right smack dab in a situation that demands this decision, i.e. in the middle of taking a lot of crap from someone. (I’m laughing as I write this because it’s just so darn true!) I mean, I’m not sure this is something you can necessarily plan for as these types of situations tend to vary and catch you off guard. Also, I don’t think we want to be the kind of person who has made a purposeful decision to always resolve this situation in the same way. You are probably kind of a jerk if you have made up your mind to always stand your ground, never left someone walk all over you, and always be ready to put someone in their place. It sounds nice in theory to be self-confident, strong and assertive, but it can’t always be the right response.

I truly don’t find myself in these situations often, especially as I have gotten older, more mindful and weeded out wild card acquaintances over the years. But it’s almost worse that they are more sporadic because they catch me WAY off guard! In the past I have not be able to clearly articulate the way I am feeling in the moment so usually I end up listening to the person’s whole spiel and then going home to obsess over it for quite awhile. This time is for crying, being angry and saying many sentences that begin with Ugh I should’ve said_____ & ______& _______ etc. You probably have observed from your own experiences that the person you choose to tell this story to is very important, as other people are very quick to tell you how you should’ve handled the situation.

So tonight I’m asking myself, and you, when to fight and when to fly? How do we know when to stand our ground and when to walk away?

As I am analyzing this from my own most recent experience I know there is no right answer. So where do we go from there? I’d say with staying fully present in the moment. (Let me state that this is assuming you are having a discussion with a rational person–even if they are having a lot of emotions, they are still rational. ALWAYS REMEMBER: YOU CANNOT RATIONALIZE WITH AN IRRATIONAL PERSON. This leads to you feeling hurt and frustration and is a big ole waste of energy. If the person is irrational, kindly make your exit.)

Now we begin to really hear what this person has to say. We give them our attention and listen intently. See if you can continue to breathe and keep your heart rate calm as you formulate your response. If needed, ask for a moment for you to better articulate how you’d like to respond. Remain focused on the situation at hand and refocus your mind every time emotions and related stories or scenarios try to butt in. KEEP BREATHING. You will get sad or angry if you begin to hold your breath. Notice the other person’s breathing and if possible remind them of the same thing.

If you are able to stay with your breath and process what you are hearing, perhaps you can respond in a kind way to the truth that you have available to you now. This is how this situation is all relative. We are only privy to our own truth that we posses at the time and that is why we must make the best choice available to us in the moment. How many times have you thought back to something you believed whole-heartedly  just a few years ago but now that you’ve become more educated on the subject, you are mortified that you stood up for such a thing! Being raised a Baptist and being from the South I have believed all kinds of stuff like being gay is a sin and that you can get healthy things at McDonald’s. And many more things that would make me hang my head in shame now, but at the time, with my limited education on the subjects, I spoke my truth.

Now we remember that we can only speak to our own truth in the present moment and we can now practice tolerance as we remember that the other person (or establishment etc) is doing the exact same thing. We cannot fault them for also speaking and acting upon their truth. We can attempt to educate them. We can speak our own mind. We can relate other experiences and examples to them, but we cannot fault them for working with what they know to be true.

Remember all of our perspectives are limited. None of us can see the whole picture. We must act in accordance of that knowledge.

By this point what needs to be said, has been said and you have decided whether or not further discussion would be productive. Take your leave with love in your heart even if you have no idea what just transpired. Even if the person has done you a great wrong. Even if you are in tears. Kindly take your leave with love so that you will have no regrets with whatever the outcome may be. Leave the drama of burning bridges and cutting people out of your life to the movies. Remember, even if this discussion is aimed at you, it is most likely not about you! This is the other person’s issues coming out at you, so take it with a grain of salt.

Next, what we can do is find a safe place or activity to experience all our emotions. Try a long walk, a yoga or meditation class, a punching bag, or a therapy session and allow yourself to experience the five stages of grief. (Before you pick up the phone to relate this all to a friend, consider if they will truly be able to help you and if this story will negatively impact them.) No matter the situation, you are experiencing some form of grief. Your relationship with the person (or employer etc) may have changed irreparably and you need a brief time to indulge in everything bubbling up as a form of processing it all. Feel denial, anger, bargaining, and depression come and go. Feel it, sense it, experience it and then breathe it out. There is no set time for this, but the more time you spend in this stage, the less time you are in the present moment. You are now officially reliving the past and making up scenarios for the future. You are the only one who suffers when you do this.

Continue to breath and process the information as it comes to you–try journaling to get the thoughts out of you and onto paper. Use your tools of mindfulness and meditation to come faster to place of acceptance. Quiet your mind and allow the answers to your questions about how to proceed appear from deep within. We already have all the answers inside us, but we must be quiet and unafraid to hear them. You may need a day or two of rest and positive thought to be ready to hear. Be gentle with yourself and take the time you need.

I certainly feel better putting all that down on “paper”. When I reflect on times I have felt like I stood up for myself, they mostly did not go over well. I was very emotional while it was happening and it caused the other parties to also act emotionally and I ended up feeling punished. There is only so much true martyrdom out there, so it would have served me better to calmly and rationally set up a meeting to discuss my feelings and see if there were any solutions available in that establishment or relationship.

My life has become exponentially more joyful since I learned these tools and continue to live, mindfully, in the present moment. I hope yours will too.

Love & Light,

CityGal

 

 

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2 responses

  1. Hi CityGal,

    You wrote: “By this point what needs to be said, has been said and you have decided whether or not further discussion would be productive. Take your leave with love in your heart even if you have no idea what just transpired. Even if the person has done you a great wrong. Even if you are in tears. Kindly take your leave with love so that you will have no regrets with whatever the outcome may be. Leave the drama of burning bridges and cutting people out of your life to the movies. Remember, even if this discussion is aimed at you, it is most likely not about you! This is the other person’s issues coming out at you, so take it with a grain of salt.”

    I love what you say here especially because I think aggression (verbal, emotional, physical) coming at us is pretty much always about the other person. We have control of our response and how we inquire into what is coming up for us. Please tell me if I am distorting what you are saying, but I hear when you say go with “love in your heart” you mean choose kindness, but don’t be a drama queen or a doormat. Is that what you are saying?

    Nora

    • You bet, Nora! You can usually tell when nothing else can be done in the moment, so better to head out for some reflection while sending loving intentions towards the other person instead of hateful, negative thoughts!

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