Sunday, January 29, 2012

Where the High Road Meets Low Street

The high road; it sure can be a hard one to find, and it is definitely the road less traveled by.
I think we all have those people in our lives- the ones that test our patience and even our sanity. They know exactly which buttons to push to make you consider taking “Low Street.” There are very few people that can push me to a point where I consider abandoning my principles completely. Those few people cause a huge internal battle for me; I’ve got the devil on one shoulder saying, “Rip them a new one,” and an angel on the other saying, “You’re too good for this.”  Most of the time, I can keep my cool and be the bigger person. There are those other times though… when the devil wins out. See there is a side of me, one that you really don’t want to meet, that is completely ruthless. If you don’t know me very well, you’ll find out quickly that I hate to lose. And when you push my buttons, it becomes an all-out war that will not end until I have made you regret the day you came after me. I hate confrontation, but I am very, very good at it when I have to use it.
I know that I talk a lot about my ex, but most of my life experiences happened with him so bear with me. About three years after we started dating, he did something; something horrible and almost unforgivable. Something that made me lose every ounce of respect I had for him. It was in this moment that I learned just how malicious I could be. I should have  known here that our relationship would fail, but I was probably too young and naïve to see it. Instead, I forgave him, and we were able to move forward. Except we had crossed that threshold; we found out how mean we could be towards one another. It seemed that once we found that out, every argument from then on (which I will say really wasn’t that often) turned from something small into a button-pushing session that wouldn’t end until we had dug up all the old skeletons in the closet. But why? What was the point? Why did we feel the need to hurt each other?

I’ve come to learn (and maybe too late) that I don’t have to let the devil win out. I’ve found that conflict isn’t so much a game of winners and losers, but rather one of just losers. I don’t like the person I become when I sink to that level, and I don’t feel much satisfaction in tearing people down. No matter how much they deserve it.

I’ll be honest; I don’t really want to find out how “good” I am at conflict anymore. Rather, I want to find out how good I can be at conflict resolution. I will say that in taking the high road, sometimes the only resolution is just walking away because well some conversations will only ever lead you down “Low Street.” However, there are those relationships we have with people that know us maybe too well- where they know exactly which buttons to push- and it is worth it to work things out.

It’s all about taking that step back. It’s picking your battles and figuring out what you can control and what you can’t. It’s being able to ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing and saying what you’re saying; it’s about getting to the root of an issue without the attacks and all-out war. I’m not trying to say that I am all high and mighty because I certainly am not. I am a self-proclaimed A-hole to the core. What people don’t seem to realize is that the high road wasn’t meant for saints and angels. It’s meant for smart folks, even A-holes, with a sense of self-control and principles enough to guide them down a lesser beaten path. And I’ll quote Frost here by saying that when you do, it will make all the difference.

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