Choose Your Battles
Hello and welcome back to the new episode of Morning Cup of Sunshine. How are you all? It has been more than a month since I first launched this podcast. It feels amazing to bring you new goals each week. I am still as excited as I was when I recorded my first episode. There is something magical about the entire process, choosing a goal, thinking about it, putting into a stepwise approach, recording it and bringing it to you. This gives me immense joy. My days have become busy but I am enjoying every minute of it. Thank you so much for all your love and support. I really mean it from the bottom of my heart.
Today, I want to discuss a new goal with you all. Last week we discussed how to cultivate self love and today we will be discussing a small approach to do so. It is Choose your battles.
Happy Moment of the Week
But first, happy moment of the week.
Few days back, we gave our old digital camera to my son as a gift. He immediately started clicking pictures with it. He is currently showing an interest in photography so we thought it is a good idea to let him use the old camera. The camera is almost 10 year old. It has a lot of photographs from the past 10 years. While browsing through the photos, he found a photo of me and my dad. In that photograph, we are laughing ear to ear. I am not sure what the joke was. But it was such a beautiful photo and I have not seen it in years. It felt like a treasure. My dad passed away 8 years back and I till date feel sad that my kid could not get to know him. But I told a lot of stories about dad to my son. That afternoon, I caught my son showing pictures to my 3 year old daughter. I heard him saying, look Maitreyi, this is Vinu Ajoba. Ajoba is grand dad in Marathi. He is mom’s dad. Do you know he was a doctor? And then he started telling her stories about him as if he knew him. My heart just melted away seeing the affection and love in his words for the person he has never met. This was a moment I will never forget. It was definitely the happiest moment for me.
What about you my friends? I am eagerly waiting for your happy moments. Let’s take a moment together and close your eyes, think about all the moments in the past week. Think about the moment that brought a smile on your face, the moment you could not stop thinking about in a happy way of course. I will love to read all your happy moments in our amazing facebook group. Morning Cup of Sunshine Community. Let’s spread some joy and happiness in each other’s life.
Okay, it is time to discuss our goal of the week. Choose Your battles. We all have limited time on this beautiful earth. It is our choice how we want to spend it. Is it worth fighting every single small and insignificant battle just to prove your point? Life is much more beautiful and fruitful when spent in the company of your loved ones than in the pursuit of small wins of insignificant battles. Basking in the love of near and dear ones is a much better way to live than basking in the glory of insignificant wins. If you hear what I said carefully, I used the word insignificant in each previous sentence. There are some battles worth fighting but some are not worth a single minute of our time and efforts. So, how to choose which ones are worth fighting for? Let me tell you a funny story, when My son Mihir, was 2 years old, he was really into all construction trucks. Dump truck was his most favorite. As a first time excited mom, one day, I got him a t-shirt with a dump truck on it. I would have never imagined that a small t-shirt is going to be the biggest troublemaker in our household. From that day onward, Mihir wanted to wear that same t-shirt everyday. It was summer time and we used to go to a nearby play area everyday. He wanted to wear that same t-shirt to the playground everyday. I tried my level best to convince him to wear something else. But there was no way to convince him, he was too much in love with that t-shirt. I tried telling him that it is dirty and needs a wash but that led him to a full blown melt down. I am not too proud admitting it but I even tried hiding it but it too went in vain. That t-shirt was now getting on my nerves. It was a complete power struggle between us everyday. Finally, I gave up and decided not to pay attention. I just did my part, washed that t-shirt after every use and kept it ready for use. After a week or so, we were getting ready to go to the park. As usual, I was expecting Mihir to ask for that same old dump truck t-shirt, but to my surprise, he asked for a different t-shirt. I could not believe it for a moment. But he did not ask for his beloved t-shirt. Same thing happened the next day and the day after that. I suppose, he just moved on. Till date, I could not forget this experience, every time I find myself in similar situations, I remind myself that this could just be a phase which too shall pass and is absolutely not worth fighting. But sometimes, it is absolutely necessary to put up a fight. It is something that you absolutely can not ignore. If you are witnessing something which is totally against your principles, then by all means choose to fight for it. But this decision has to be taken based on some very precise facts and steps. Don’t you agree? Not all battles are worth your time and effort. Not all battles are worth the fight.Isn’t it important to choose where to spend your precious life moments? Today, we are going to do the same thing. We will look at different aspects of our life like personal, family, professional and figure out which are the battles not worth fighting and which ones are worth the fight.
Step 1 : Is it worth fighting?
We all face some conflicting situations in our life. Sometimes, we feel lost and lonely. Sometimes, we feel as if everything is falling apart. Sometimes, the situations are scary, awkward and very complicated. But sometimes, things might not seem perfect but they are not as scary or complex as they look. But at that moment, it feels like you are trapped in an almost impossible situation. It is very important to look for a pattern when you react to certain situations. Are you trying to argue just for the sake of argument or is there really a point? Learn from your past experiences. Is it going to help you in the long run to fight this battle? A simple example could be how you react when someone tries to correct you. Do you become defensive or you just could not take it and have a huge outburst. Think about your emotions during such conflict. If you feel emotionally drained after the conflict to such an extent that it makes you feel worse about the outcome than the conflict itself. Then was it worth the fight? Was it really necessary to have such an outburst? I want you to tell something very raw and honest about my pattern. When I have some awkward or not so healthy conversation with someone, I tend to go into my own shell and never understand how to react. But once the situation is over and that person is already gone to his or her own business, I keep on thinking about the encounter and then thousand different variations of responses start popping into my head. I keep on thinking, I could have said this or I wish I would have said that. But the situation has already frizzled down and there is no one to respond to. I am really trying to work on my internal battles after the conflicts. I am trying to figure out the way to navigate these situations and today together with you all, we will look at all these complex situations in a very objective mindset. We will look at it as a third person and ask a few questions before deciding to put up a fight. You need to ask yourself, is it really important? As I mentioned in my previous example, fighting with my 2 year old to wear a different t-shirt was really not important in the long run. It was simply not worth the time and energy that I might have to spend just to get him to wear something that I want. We all need to do cost-effect analysis for each battle we come across. It is the way you objectively decide whether you really want to go through all the troubles. Is it going to be beneficial to you in the long run? What are you achieving by putting up this fight? Think long and hard practically. You will realize half the battles are really not worth your time. But considering you still feel that you really put up a fight then what. I would suggest introspecting your motive. That brings me to step number 2.
Step 2 : What’s your motive?
Introspect is looking closely into your mind and checking your motive. It is very easy to get angry but I guarantee you almost all the time you will feel guilty for getting angry. You will think of some different way of tackling the same problem after some time. Never ever let your emotions take over the good in you. Sometimes, the reason we feel angry and want to put up a fight has nothing to do with the actual situation. I shared a story of me organizing my kids room in the last episode “Self Love” Listen to that episode and you will know what I am talking about. I was just hungry and instead of taking a break to eat something, I kept on getting agitated over small things. We all have been at that crossroad someday or the other. I read a quote the other day. It goes something like this - Choose your battles wisely not every battle deserves a fight. Peace is better than being right.
Before you choose to fight this battle, look into the mirror and with complete honesty introspect your motive. Never react immediately.
It is very important to check your motive behind the fight. Is it your ego? Is it plain old power struggle? Is it really that important? When your kid does not listen to you, do you tend to go in a defensive mode and start a full blown meltdown of your own. Do you often say the line - because I say so. Do you want your kids to obey you just because you are the person in authority or person in charge? Because they are small and weak compared to us, is it okay to bombard them with your misplaced anger? Do you want to teach them a life lesson or just want to establish your authority? I know my kids are still small and I have a long road to go. There might be difficult challenges that I have to face during their teen years. But what I understood from 8 years of motherhood journey is that you can never teach a life lesson or cultivate a good habit by picking a fight. Obviously, I have not figured it all out. I still have to stop myself from reacting in the heat of the moment but what seems to work is hitting a pause and resetting the complete situation. Also, there are only two ways that I found to be working to avoid the conflict at least with my kids. One show by example. They do what they see. If they see you reading a book in your spare time, I am sure they will follow the suit. And second, communicate. Communication is the key towards a healthy relationship. That brings me to step no 3. Communication.
Step 3 : Can you resolve it by healthy communication?
The war of words is the worst kind of a war. The hurtful words give permanent scars. I remember reading a story in one of the children’s books. I could not recall the name of the book. I read it when my son was 3 or 4, don’t remember the exact timeline. But one part of that book stuck with me forever. The author mentioned that ask your kids to squeeze all the toothpaste onto the plate then ask them to put the paste back into the tube. Obviously it is not possible right ? This lesson teaches kids the power of words. Just like this toothpaste the words that leave your mouth can not be taken back.
Few days back, I was talking to my friend who has two teenage boys. She seemed very agitated. I asked her if everything is okay. She said,” I don’t know but I feel angry all the time.” and then she started telling me about her high pressure job and the upcoming deadline for the project on which she had been working on for the past few months. She said, I already have too much to do in my office and when I come home from the office, the only thing I see is a mess. There are dirty socks lying around the boy's room, the room is never picked up. The lids for all snack bins are never closed. Empty wrappers are still in the containers. They are always hungry. They have zero motivation to complete the homework. Everything is so easy for them. I just could not take it anymore. They are just too much.
She was almost out of breath. I could sense her frustration and anger from her voice. But what I could hear more was her exhaustion. She was simply tired, tired of managing everything on her own. Her work, her house, all the chores, boys. She was trying to put up a fight with her boys but that won’t solve her problem because they might pick up their room that day just because she is angry. But what will start a change is communication. They all need to sit down as a family and communicate, figure out a way to help each other, coexist with their strengths and weaknesses too.
It becomes even more important in a professional environment. There might be situations where you need to speak up and put forward your point but again it needs to be handled in a very delicate way. It is extremely important to keep our cool even in a full blown battle. Always, always discuss your issues and concerns in person and never behind the back. It is important in your work life, family life, social life. It is okay to agree to disagree. You can always solve the problem together. Your ultimate goal should be resolving the conflict and that can be done by having an open discussion. Always think if you can achieve a win-win situation. It is always better to walk the path together. It gets lonely if you keep on fighting with each and everyone in your journey towards success. Isn’t it actually a good idea to have a company to share your wins with somebody? Think about it my friends, it is our precious life that we are talking about. We all want to live a happy and fulfilled life, why waste it over a petty fight. But there is one exception to it and we will talk about it in step no 4. What is your threshold?
Step 4 : What is your threshold?
Choose your battles wisely because winning is not important every time. Yes we talked about it but what if it is absolutely against the very existence of your life. Everybody has their own threshold of something that they absolutely can not stand. E.g. It might be next to impossible for you to stand dishonesty and disloyalty. Or it is really difficult for you to stand the lie. Everybody has their own perception of their threshold. If someone is really crossing the limit to your threshold then by all means we have to speak up. But we have to remember that we are fighting the belief or cause and not the person with that belief. Our battle is with the principal which is being broken by someone but that person might have their own reasons or principals. As I mentioned in the previous step, see if you can resolve your conflict by constructive communication. Can you help that person understand your concerns and feelings? Can you bring a change? Always always ask yourself are you doing the right thing? Your integrity and morality will always tell you if you have some ulterior motive in fighting this battle. But if you know that this is the right thing to do, give the fight deserved by that cause. No battle is small or large, it is just how it affects your life. Just give some time to think about your threshold, what are some things that are absolutely no go for you. You have to draw a line somewhere. You have the power to decide how you get treated. There are a lot of things going on in the world right now which are not acceptable at all. We have to stand up for the right cause. The fight for social justice, basic human rights where you have to draw a line and never accept the wrong. But on a lighter note, for some, it is okay if their kids make a mess, they can ignore the constant battle with kids over the lego messes made in their room but not completing the homework might be an absolute no-go. They just can not tolerate the ignorance towards the studies. For someone, it is okay for kids to miss some homework assignments but being rude with others is absolutely not allowed. So the battle, the struggle is different for different people. But what you understand from these examples, is even though they are working on making a firm rule about something they are choosing to loosen up in other areas. If you keep on arguing about every small thing, you will burn out yourself in no time. It’s all about winning the big war, not every small battle. Trust me, your kids are not going to make lego mess their whole life. What we should be worried about is what are the most important qualities we want to imbibe in them for life. Do you want them to be kind, gentle, respectful? Then, stand firm on the ground for these things, rest all can be forgotten and forgiven. That brings us to step no 5, Can you let it go?
Step 5 : Can you let it go?
Forgiveness is the quality of a strong mindset. I mentioned this in my previous episode as well, forgiveness comes from a position of strength and is not at all a weakness. Always always, think can you let this pass? Is it really necessary to fight this battle? Do you really want to take the stress of fighting someone? Are you sure to come out of the fight without any scarring? Will it be beneficial to everybody involved just to let it go? Is it just a phase that will pass without any fight? Can you simply forgive the person? We are not here to fight for every small thing. It will not make anyone's life worth living. Just imagine, if I would have fought with my son everyday over a t-shirt, it would have made both of us really unhappy. It is an extremely small battle and it was best to leave it alone. It dies down on its own. I never have to struggle over it again. It saved me so much stress. It is really easy to let it go. Just take a deep breath and try to remove yourself from the situation for a while. You can always say that I need a break. Once you get some time alone to think about the entire thing, introspect, look into the mirror, check if the battle is worth fighting and if it is not, come out of the room with a fresh mindset. Reset the situation, You will not be seen less if you apologize or accept your mistakes. It will make you a bigger person. As I said earlier, the ultimate aim is to live a happy, content and peaceful life. If you can take a step towards that life with a small apology for the small and insignificant conflict then why not take that step?
This brings us towards the end of today’s episode. We discussed a life goal about choosing your battles. We tried to figure out a way to make peace with certain battles and put up a roaring fight with others. As always, we discussed the tangible and tactical steps to get to our goal.
Step 1 : Is it worth fighting?
Step 2 : What is your motive?
Step 3 : Can you resolve it by healthy communication?
Step 4 : What is your threshold?
Step 5 : Can you let it go?
This week, be intentional and observe your behavior. Every time, you face a conflicting situation you will ask these questions to yourself - is it worth fighting? Is it my ego or just power struggle? Finally, try and establish a healthy and open communication with everyone in your contact.
This life is really precious my friends, let’s not waste it over petty fights. As they say, Being strong doesn't always mean you have to fight every battle. True strength is being adult enough to walk away from the chaos with your head held high.