I saw a meme the other day which said “You don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to” and it really struck a chord with me.
This was a new concept and I had never thought about it that way before. I have always felt compelled to respond, react and meet people where they are – like it is some type of unevolved and instinctual defence mechanism. However, I have never been very good with conflict, I avoid it like the plague. So this idea, that I actually don’t even need to attend arguments at all, sounds amazing to me. It gives me the choice and not a default response – with a predictable ending. Me having anxiety.
That being said – there is a difference between being argumentative and being assertive. I believe it is extremely important to assert yourself when you need to. Communicating your feelings, thoughts and boundaries is the most important thing you can do to maintain positive mental health.
There is also a difference in listening to other peoples opinions and feeling overwhelmed or bullied by their insistence. That feeling of having someone pressure you or invalidate you to the point of disempowerment is the absolute worst. This is something I have experienced a lot in years gone by and something I have very little tolerance for now. When I was allowing this behaviour I would lose a little self-confidence each time it happened and it became easier and easier to crumble to the pressure of others. Every time I allowed this disempowerment to happen I started a war inside myself because I was experiencing such inner turmoil. Setting personal boundaries has been the golden ticket to wiping this behaviour out and allowing myself space and peace.
Silence, non reaction, not participating in the argument/drama/situation is an option. Sometimes it is the most useful option you have to maintain your internal equilibrium.
This option doesn’t mean you are weak, or the loser. It doesn’t mean that you are wrong. Sometimes silence is the best answer simply because it saves you a release of Cortisol.