“Quarreling is like cutting water with a sword”.
We add to our own stress by acting out in anger or getting into pointless arguments just to try to win at a situation that has no meaning. If we practice using restraint, it will eventually become automatic. It really does take greater strength to show restraint than it does to show aggression.
Just this past week, I had to show restraint. I was sitting under a portico at 8AM, waiting in the car with my dad while Mom went inside to get a wheelchair to transport him. We were chatting and I didn’t see a car pull up behind us. What got my attention was a woman pounding the trunk of my parents’ car with her fist while screaming a tirade of obscenities. I calmly got out and apologized to her, even though her behavior was inexcusable. I told her that had her driver asked us to move, or even tapped his horn to signal me, I would have been more than happy to get out of their way. Then I asked her if she needed me to help her get inside. She was rather confused by my reaction, and it was very obvious she was embarrassed by her own outburst. Her driver used this time to head for the parking lot, and the look on his faced told me that he was mortified. She apologized profusely. I smiled and told her that I hoped she would be feeling better soon. My calmness put me in control of the situation and actually gave me the upper hand.
When I got back into the car and told my dad what had happened he shook his head and laughed. My mother, however, was furious. I had to explain to her that we have been stressed by my dad’s illness and that I was not going to allow someone we didn’t even know to add to that stress. Sure, I would have been justified in giving that woman a piece of my mind, but to what end? She was the one who acted out, and she was the one who walked away feeling remorseful for her outburst. Why should I allow her to make me feel bad? My anger would surely have affected both of my parents as well as myself. In most cases, it really is better to rise above it. Not so much for the sake of the person who has offended you as for yourself and for the people who really do matter.