We’ve all been there.  That point of no return where you’ve reached your limit.  You’ve stood at the edge of the abyss of anger and said “screw it”, right before you went over the edge.  Or maybe you didn’t even pause on the precipice, and just sailed right over, not giving it a second thought. The freight train running out of track at an alarming rate.  Passengers, crew and onlookers all voiceless and wide-eyed as the situation unfolds.  We can point fingers in these situations, assign blame and accuse the other person of “pressing our buttons”.  But in the end, we are responsible for our own actions.  In the end, we always have a choice.  As it is much easier to prepare for a situation while not in it, let’s take into account the following  factors.

This too shall pass. Whatever situation you’re in, whatever is stirring your emotional hot-pot,  whatever expectation you had that’s not being met?  It will pass.  Let’s say, for argument sake, that it’s your ex and things have gotten ugly toward the end of your romantic relationship.  You’ve both adopted that “screw it” attitude toward each other, and the verbal gloves are off.  The beauty of this situation is that the sooner you stop engaging in negativity, the sooner the negativity will stop.  It’s no longer an argument when just one person is involved.  The firestorm will become a thing of the past rather than something you’re surrounded by.

What you say can and will be used against you. We’ve all been there.  Said that one thing we wish we could take back.  No sooner did the words come out than we felt a sharp pang of regret.  The look on the other person’s  face as the pain registers is palpable. While the pain is visible on the surface, permanent damage is happening on a deeper level.  Remember when we said this too shall pass?  No matter how angry you are with this person, there is a high degree of likelihood that someday, at some point in life, you will be friends again.  This may be very hard to believe while in the heat of an argument or at the end of a romantic relationship, but it’s true.  Make life that much easier for yourself.  Hold your tongue.  There will be less resentment, less to both overcome and apologize for  later.

You have an audience. Arguments are rarely a two player game fought behind closed doors.   They’re in public, in front of friends, coworkers and even children.  Your audience is paying attention, both to you and how you are handling yourself.   Children may emulate you.  If someone set up a video camera and filmed you during an argument, would you like what you saw?  Everyone is a baby-kissing, handshaking rockstar when things are going great.  You’ve created a memory for your audience, and they are taking stock of your character when things are not.  Keep your composure and walk away the good guy.

Virtual arguments are forever. We’ve all been witness to arguments in the social media arena.  Please.  Don’t be that guy.  Know that we, as a collective audience, are rolling our eyes as people take passive aggressive shots at one another online.  We all know what you mean, and who your “inspirational” quotes are really addressing.  Dude, leave us out of it.  If you happen to have a few too many one evening and take to proselytizing your true feelings online, deleting it the next morning amidst a haze of regret does not your problem solve.  Know that your comments are saved in the camera roll of at least ten people.  Save yourself the pain of becoming a meme and hold your tongue online.

Maybe she’s right. “She started it!”  At least once in your life you have either thought that or said it out loud.  And it was beyond the third grade when it happened.  Well, guess what?  Maybe she did.  And maybe the reason you’re so angry is because what she said holds a degree of truth.  Bear in mind, anger is a secondary emotion and most often masks pain.   If what she is saying truly hurt, take note.  She may have done you a favor.  Also take note that even if it is true, did hurt, and has made you angry, how you react is still your choice.  Choosing to hold your tongue is a viable option.

There’s a better view from the high road. Maybe you’re in a heated debate and the conversation has taken an ugly turn.  Mudslinging ensures, and dammit if you didn’t forget your raincoat.  Guess what, friends?  The view is better from the high road.  The amusing thing about taking the high road when involved with a mudslinger is that very little effort is required on your part provided you hold your ground.  Hold your ground by remaining silent, fold your arms, and watch as they slowly but surely sink before your eyes.  Your view will improve in a few short minutes.

Nice guys do finish first. Nice guys are a misunderstood breed.  Honestly. Nice guy don’t receive enough credit for who they really are.   Under the surface of every nice guy is a man who is skilled in the art of defusion.  Think about it.  Consider a situation that is on the verge of escalation and consider who steps in.  Nice guys right?  Nice guys are masters at distancing and disconnecting.  Rather than engage in an argument they smile and laugh.  Nice guys have an amazing ability to see situations for what they are, just a stream of passings words.  He will change the tide of argument with a gentle laugh, a reassuring tone and a well-timed use of touch.  Don’t believe it?  Watch a nice guy in action at your next opportunity.

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