I feel like everyone’s parents advise them to “choose their battles” in relationships as they grow up. And it is something I have always struggled with. First, I hate the idea of anything in a relationship being a “battle.” I think I would like it better if it was “choose which bothersome occurrences you decide to bring into a conversation,” but then it would lose its succinct cliche status. Oh well. Second, I struggle with discretion. My emotions are an open book, and it is extremely difficult for me to hold back, especially when many of my past hurts were results of not being totally honest with myself and others.
So here I am, an often-too-honest-about-everything sort of girl, and I have a really hard time “choosing my battles.” To work on it, I have started forming a couple checkpoint questions in my head. I ask myself:
1. Was the issue a one-time “oops” or a recurring “uh-oh”? This is crucial. The one-time issues seem much easier to let go. It is those recurring bothers that I struggle with. At first, they seem like such small, silly hurts. But as I have learned in the past, those small things really add up over time. Which leads me to the struggle…
2. Do I say something after just a couple offenses, or wait until several have built up? On one hand, they say you should address an issue when it happens. No one wants to hear “last month when you…” so that would lead me to think I need to say something early on. Yet, I know I need a large handful of solid, concrete examples of where I am messing up before I can really see the pattern in my life. So somewhere in there is a happy medium–catching it early on, but with a few examples.
3. The one-time oops: how do I bring it up with out turning it into a crisis? Most of the time, when we screw up in a one-time-only manor, we know it. We recognize the initial reactions of the person on the other end, and we know we’re in the wrong. When I screw up, I don’t want to hear someone go on and on about how terrible, awful it was. I get it. So when I am on the other side of that, I need to work on calmly mentioning the problem, understanding where it came from, and moving on. I’m not always so good at this. At all.
4. How do I decide if it is a big problem or not? Generally, I base this off how I feel. If I am feeling hurt, even in the smallest ways, over and over again, it needs to be discussed. Like I said, those small things add up. And there are things each of us do, and have always done, that may really annoy or hurt others and we just can’t help it. Sometimes that comes down to the question of, “is this something I can handle on a regular basis or not?”
These are all really tough questions that I struggle with all the time. How do I be a loving friend, girlfriend, daughter, and choose my battles wisely? And at the same time, keep myself from being hurt and from hurting others? What are your checkpoint questions when choosing your battles?