Fight or Flight – Confronting the Urge to Confront

Photo by Dilyara Garifullina on Unsplash

You know what it’s like, you fight against it with all you’re worth, but every now and then you just have to say what is on your mind. Now, don’t panic! I’m not going to assail you with my opinions. Let’s face facts here; there is nothing in the world more tedious than somebody else’s point of view, and I certainly don’t intend to inflict mine upon you. After all, what have you ever done to me? However, I’m pretty certain that you will all recognise the feeling: someone is fervently extolling an opinion that you passionately oppose. You know that there is no point in calling them out. You know that they won’t listen anyway. But there is a prickling at the back of your neck and a little voice inside your head is whispering “Tell ‘em. Go on, tell ‘em”. Best advice (in as much as anyone would want to take advice from me) is don’t. You know how it goes; you are certain of what you want to say, you understand the reasoned argument you want to make, you have even rehearsed a couple of witticisms in your head that you are prepared to drop in if the moment allows, but somehow it doesn’t come out as you intended and you just end up loudly refuting everything that the other person has to say. It will not end well. It never does. Your arguments may well be incisive and definitive, but they will count for nothing when your rival says, “What’s it got to do with you anyway, big nose?” Whatever you were told at school, nobody is ever swayed by reasoned argument. You stand a much better chance of swaying them with a bag of sweets. And, be honest, if you do definitively prove somebody wrong in front of all of their friends, are they likely to thank you for it? Are they likely to bless you for revealing to them the error of their ways? They may react in a way that you had not anticipated: they might thumb their nose at you; they might blow a raspberry; if they throw a punch, you are probably moving in the wrong circles anyway. Far worse, they will look at you tearfully and, with a slight shake of the head, move sadly away to sulk silently behind a half-opened door. (Don’t panic. The situation is not intractable, but the solution will almost certainly involve cake.)

The human body is awash with hormones that, for some reason and under certain circumstances, tell you that the time to have your say is now. Fortunately the human brain is strong and almost always has the power to overrule this primaeval urge to confront. In a life in which I have come to realise that it is generally essential to let your heart rule your head, I would say that this is the time, when you find yourself hot and agitated, when you know that you are drifting helplessly into a row, to let your head rule your heart (and apply a cool, damp cloth to the back of your neck) take a deep breath, smile serenely and walk away happy in the knowledge that the cake is still all yours…

Sometimes I hear my voice
And it’s been here, silent all these years…
‘Silent All These Years’ – Tori Amos

6 thoughts on “Fight or Flight – Confronting the Urge to Confront

  1. I’ve reached the same conclusion — unfortunately, I don’t always follow that advice. And then I instantly regret it, but it’s usually too late at that point. It’s extended to Facebook too. I’ll see an aggravating post by a friend or relative that I feel the need to refute and show them the light. 90% of the time, I successfully let it go, but occasionally, I don’t and it never ends well.

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