Can you fight with love?

It’s difficult to escape popular understandings about fighting with other people, even loved ones. Do you remember the old clichés?

“Fight fire with fire”
“The best defense is a good attack”

Most of your experiences teach you to respond to other person’s perceived attack with another attack, so the dispute instead of being resolved escalates to a real battle.

Why do we do this? Because our brains are structured on the fight or flight response, and automatically provides us with a counter aggression response.

Well, you are going to say: if this is the natural way our brain reacts, it must be the good one, right?

Not necessarily! Too many times we misinterpret something said as an offense against us, or proceed based on our fears without enough information….

Fighting fire with fire is automatic, but deprives us of the power of really, really, managing the interaction. We are rendered hostages to anyone who wants to fight with us, be it convenient or not for ourselves.

Perhaps you are open to another proposal: this one that says that escalation will not get your needs fulfilled. As much as you can yell at your husband to make him understand how frustrated are you with him; or how much he can slam the door to stop your “nasty demands,” this aggressive counter-attack will release the anger but get you far from any satisfaction of your needs.

Especially if you are hurting because your needs for love and connection are not fulfilled, they are going to be even worst attended after escalating the aggressive interaction!

In the end, we are not obligated to answer fire with fire; it continues to be a personal choice the way we respond. It is always my choice how I respond to situations, because no amount of "fighting" or negative response will change the truth of the situation: that my real power consists in changing myself, and choosing my responses.

When I recover my own personal power, I can select another option: one that says that I’m free to not answer with more aggression. Of course, to do that, I need to control my emotions, recover a rhythm of breathing that will calm my automatic response to fight, and position myself as an observer.

What do I see? My loved one and I, and also see a clear picture of the interaction between us: This lovely couple, otherwise very loving and happy are embroiled now in this nasty dispute…are they really hurting each other? Can I see it as an exercise of testing each other’s limits; of learning how to express requests for love and support in a productive way instead of hurling insults?

A compassionate view of both of you, escalating a dispute because both need support and love from each other can help you to finally say:

Wait, what is that we want to get from each other? Is yelling at each other the best way? When we are done yelling, is it true that we still need to learn how to express our needs in such a way as the other can hear us?

Next time you see a fight coming your way, control your breathing, smile and say: “Can we sit down and have a nice conversation about your needs and mine? Where we can respect each other and listen? Now, tell me what is upsetting you so much!

Neil Warner

Neil Warner

I'm the “relationship guru,” and my main focus is to increase the quality of love-based relationship experiences. In this ground-breaking guide I offer useful strategies on healing a difficult angry relationship with love and compassion. You don't have to stay in an unhealthy relationship one more minute. Let us share our tools with you today.

 

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