Picking My Battles, Saving My Sanity.
When I was 21, I went to my mothers house because my boyfriend at the time and I were having a fight. I can’t remember now what it was about, but I can say with complete certainty that he was wrong, I was right, and it was all his fault… And he was a big idiot head.
Anyway, after spending some time yapping her ear off about his wrongdoings, she patted my leg and smiled. “Something I have learned after many years, and multiple marriages is; you must pick your battles. Not everything is worth losing your s*** over. Some things are, but most aren’t. And you will spend a lot of time being unhappy if you make the conscious decision to go to war over every disagreement or conflict.”
She was an incredibly wise woman.
My mother has given me tons of unwarranted advice, but this bit in particular; always stuck with me.
I have a choice. I can navigate through the day with my hypothetical fists raised, ready to attack any conflict that arises. Upon witnessing someone’s status update that I don’t agree with I can hop into the comment section like Bruce Lee and start kicking people in the face with my own irrelevant opinion. I can choose to take a small incident that I will most likely have zero recollection of 6 years from now, and blow it out of proportion
I can choose not to.
It sounds weird, but I navigate through the world surrounded and protected by this “happy bubble”, (okay-hear me out), I really do. When I go to the store, or an event, I go into it with a positive and optimistic attitude, (most of the time).
Every now and then someone comes along and tries to pop my damn bubble. They poke at it, push it around or toss a couple rude words at it in hopes of getting through it. “You should really put some socks on that baby, she looks cold”-stranger at grocery store. “We no longer carry Wild Cherry Pepsi”-Taco Bell Employee. “I can’t find my other shoe”-unnamed child, for the 3rd time this week.
The thing is, I am in control of what I allow to infiltrate my bubble. I have the power, and if I give in and allow myself to be tempted by conflict – I give that power away to someone else. This is why it’s so important for me to chose who is worthy of receiving my power, and the list is small.
I can tell you this, it’s not the little old lady who cut me off in the parking lot this morning (and prompted this whole thought process). Sure, I could have honked, and flicked her off out the window. But what would I have gained from this other than scared children in the backseat and an elevated heart rate? I chose to let things like this go.
I’m not saying that I skip around sprinkling fairy dust on everyone while singing “Let It Go” . I’m just saying that not everything is worthy of me defending my position. I do not think it’s a good idea to always avoid conflict, because sometimes when I do, I end up living in it. Stewing about it. (See my previous article about the lady from Target).
It’s incredibly easy to get swept away in the currents of drama. Before you know it you are having an online argument with a stranger in Canada about women you don’t know marching for their rights.
So how does one decide which battles to fight, and which to let go?
There is a wealth of advice that can be found on the internet depending on issues an individual may be struggling with.
WikiHow has a hilariously illustrated article titled “How To Choose Your Battles in Marriage”. Office Ninjas has one about conflict in the workplace and QuickandDirtytips.com has an article about choosing your battles with kids.
In my personal opinion however, there’s no perfect answer on any of these websites. I am my own, unique person and things that make me tick may not bother others. And since the internet wasn’t readily available when I was 21, I had to figure it out on my own anyway.
What it boils down to is how do I want to spend my day? Do I want to be happy or angry? Peaceful or agitated? Composed or flustered? Do I want to scream at my son for pressing the “crushed ice” button on the fridge for the 10th time, or hug him and laugh, gazing upon the frosty mess I now have covering the floor?
Do I want to scream at my husband the moment he walks in the door because he forgot to pick up milk like I asked or welcome him home with a big hug and spend the night laughing instead of fighting?
It’s up to me. I get to pick, and the freedom that comes along with that choice is life altering. I will always stand up for my morals and values, but I refuse to participate in every fight I’m invited to. I’ve got more important things to deal with.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to clean up a crushed ice blizzard in the kitchen.
“You will never be completely free from life’s little annoyances, but you can become free from feeling annoyed.” – Richard Carlson, author of “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff”.