Mental Showdowns: Arguments In Your Head

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Do you ever argue with people…in your head? Some of these “mental showdowns” are with perfect strangers you haven’t even spoken to yet. For example, you receive a cell phone bill with an outrageous charge or your insurance company didn’t cover the amount you expected. There’s often an anticipation that they will give you a hard time in response to your clearly superior logic, not rectify the charges, and leave you fuming. What often happens though is the company takes the charge off; or you now understand the charges from their perspective; or it hasn’t been resolved and you move on to a supervisor. On the whole though, regardless of the outcome, the response is almost never as bad as what you had staged in your head.

Family and friends present a different kind of “mental showdown” because unlike the customer service person, there is no anonymity. Often times we have a shorter “mental showdown” and go straight to the real deal. We often lose our “be rational” filters in these arguments because they already accept us for who we are, warts and all. These are the people we love the most yet ironically lash out at the most. But, once again, if we didn’t brood or fester about the concern in our heads for even a short amount of time, the conversation often happens with more kindness and compassion.

Other “mental showdowns” happen with bosses and colleagues.  However, knowing that livelihoods and house payments depend on how we respond in the workplace, we’re not as likely to press on with our concerns. But, it feels good to have won this showdown in our heads.  We stand tall knowing that IF it had happened, we WOULD have been the victor, and that person would regret they ever “messed” with us.  Maybe we even imagined all kinds of awesome “zingers” that proved them wrong and us right. But, is it really a victory if our blood pressure and stress levels skyrocket just thinking about  it? It’s definitely a victory for our egos, but feeding an ego isn’t really something to be categorized as a win.

So, if our experiences show us that preparing for a showdown in our heads is a waste of time and energy, then why do we keep doing it? I think it’s because we want to tell ourselves that having “mental showdowns” is part of a logical response when someone has upset us. Soldiers don’t go into battle without armor and training, so why should we in the battlefield of life? Primarily because life is only a battlefield if we make it one. If we shed the notion that we need to anticipate a showdown or battle, then when we approach someone with our concern, we don’t come across as having weapons that boast that we are right and the other person is most certainly wrong. If we allow ourselves to only have the conversation when the conversation is actually happening, it will be more likely to unfold in a productive way, one with compassion to see the other person’s point of view.

However, if you have tried your best to foster open communication and the person still isn’t putting his or her weapons down, feel free to mentally move on and remind yourself that this is no longer on your list of concerns. You can’t change people, but you can change how you respond to them- first off, by not turning your mind into a cinema. The insurance customer service person would probably be grateful that if instead of firing off at him, I had investigated the specifics of my plan first. Oh…so that’s how the plan has changed now that we have a child.  Thanks for letting me know and have a good day.




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