I read an interesting quote recently from a poster named “unitedfornow” at the BPDFamily forums:
In the middle ages, that romantic time of knights in shining armor, men would challenge each other to fights by throwing their gauntlet (glove) on the ground. The person challenged had the choice to either pick up the gauntlet — and therefore agree to battle — or walk away. The challenger would often throw in some juicy insults to help motivate the person challenged to agree to fight with them.
The poster goes on to describe the choice that the challenged was faced with, noting that he didn’t have to fight unless he felt like it.
This was a really simple, yet powerful point. Whether it’s a stranger on the street yelling “Fuck You,” a lover or a sibling, the decision to engage in that fight is still just that. A decision.
You always have the choice, and the power, to walk away from a fight. And while throwing down the gauntlet is about physical battle, it’s more useful in emotional battle. Verbal jousts, yelling, etc. They are all a choice. You don’t need to engage in them. Simply walk away.
If a problem needs to be solved, then solve it. People see fighting as inseparable from problem-solving but it is quite the opposite. Problem-solving is collectively productive. Fighting is counterproductive.
We have a tendency to blame others for fights (“he started it!”), but the choice is always yours to not continue it. It’s a simple choice: Don’t pick up the gauntlet.