On my flight to a seminar today, a person behind me kept getting out of their seat by grabbing the top of my seat and pulling themselves up. Each time the person did so, my head was snapped back and forth by the movement. Trying to work, I was interrupted each time. In my younger days, this and other annoyances caused me to take offense...quickly. The result was a sarcastic comment that either wounded or infuriated the other person and caused verbal strife.
It's taken me years but I've finally learned that I can choose to get angry or not. We usually get angry because we want to. We usually take offense because we want to. Whether it's hurt feelings, wounded pride or asserting our rights, the result is almost always some form of strife. Strife is the best way I know of the spend energy negatively. Strife can cause high blood pressure, ulcers and every manner of illness known to man. Strife hinders our ability to think clearly and react properly. Whatever wounds and hurts we've stored in our hearts comes out during strife. Strife makes us like a tube of toothpaste, whatever is on the inside comes out when we get squeezed!
What can we do to stop before we get there? First, we can decide not to enter into strife and stay at peace. My wife started doing this years ago and it probably saved our marriage. Not entering in will involve walking away from a situation for a time, keeping our mouth closed, using soft instead of harsh words and, for some of us, asking for God's grace to help.
Rarely does much positive come out of strife. Whatever does could likely be achieved more quickly and with much less energy peacefully. If resolution of strife isn't possible, leave it alone. Usually in a short time both parties realize their "bad" and difference are easily resolved.
Aside from the "baseball bat approach," what is your favorite way of avoiding offense and strife? Post a comment and share.