Sometimes in spite of our best efforts, we find ourselves in conflict with other people. And sometimes in spite of our best efforts, emotional tensions rise, tempers flare, and things go off the rails.
I rarely find myself going off the rails these days. Mostly because when I get really upset, I tend to not lash out. Instead, I pull in. I get quiet. Because I’ve learned that when I start feeling like that, I’m likely to say or do something I don’t mean. And the safest thing to do at that point is nothing.
Because you can’t take it back — whatever mean things you say or do.
It’s better to walk away than say or do something you regret. That’s how I feel anyway.
But other people function differently. And I’ve had folks lose it in difficult situations — and in ones that are complicated socially (as they often are at work or among groups of friends or family, etc.), other people will lash out back.
Back and forth, back and forth — in a cycle of hurt and regret.
And even if I haven’t participated in the conflict, I will find myself reeling afterwards. Uncertain. Worried about my part in things.
It’s at times like these that I find myself asking, “Did you violate your own values?”
And taking a deep, honest look into my actions and how they either line up — or don’t — with my values.
Honestly, there have been times when I ask that question — and the answer is yes. I did something I’m not proud of. And when the answer is yes, it’s time to take a close look at how and why. And how to do a little better in the future. To avoid making the same mistakes and letting myself — and others — down.
But there are also times when the answer is no. There are times when something stressful has happened, something I wish hadn’t happened at all, but I can at least feel good about my part in it — even if I hate the final outcome.
Each time I ask myself, “Did you violate your own values?”
It’s my most valuable check-in. Because the times when I do are the times that are the hardest to get over. And it’s worth trying my hardest to avoid that.