Despite my outwardly demure nature, I would describe myself as a fighter. Put in a position of fight or flight, I choose fight.
I will illustrate this point with a quick, highly entertaining story: When I was in my early 20s, I woke up at the crack of dawn every morning to pound the treadmill in my apartment’s fitness center. Most mornings, I ran alone. On one of these mornings a giant naked man appeared outside the entrance of the building, blocking the windowed door. Without hesitating, I went into fight mode and grabbed my mace. Throwing open the door, I began repeatedly yelling: “What are you doing?!?” Luckily, he retreated and ran away. I followed him up the flight of stairs, macing his naked buttocks. When we reached the main parking lot, I paused and asked myself: “What am I doing?” Why was the instinct of a petite, 5 foot 4 inch woman to chase a man so much bigger and stronger?
Lately, I’ve been butting heads with one of the people that I love the most in this world. I recognized that our boxing match would never end unless one of us stopped swinging. Two incredibly strong-willed and stubborn individuals, we’d keep the “jab, jab, quick, quick” going for eternity. Because flight was not an option, I considered a third alternative: Love.
I realized that we really are on the same team, wanting the same happiness and peace. The only thing standing between our shared goals and desires was ourselves.
I’ve heard that insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Applied to this situation, continuing to meet fight with fight would be insane. So, I changed tactics and met anger with empathy and a hug. Astonishingly, our swings turned into an embrace. And, I realized that fighting with love is the answer. I hope to meet future conflicts with love and compassion. Although it is contrary to my natural instincts, it is definitely worth the effort. Plus, loving is so much more fun than fighting.