Stop Arguing with Them

Close up focus on female mixed race palm hand showing stop sign, serious african american woman protesting against bullying in society, sexual or racial discrimination, denying family abuse indoors.

Have you ever held an unpopular perspective near and dear to your heart? By near and dear, I’m not referring to something that you necessarily like or makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but something that you sincerely believe and may be beginning to act on. Examples includes perspectives like the following:

  • Children don’t owe it to their parents to take care of them as they age;
  • Parents should NOT hit their kids, under any circumstances (or spanking is good for the kid);.
  • Men are not naturally supposed to lead women; they simply benefit from their physical strength and centuries of sexism;
  • If a man cannot take care of all of the financial needs of his household, he violates the plan of God for men; 
  • Addiction is a choice, not a disease;
  • No one religion is better than another (or there is no God); 
  • America is racist;
  • Poor people should not have as many children as they want;
  • A liberal arts education is just as valuable as one steeped in STEM;
  • Blood is not necessarily thicker than water; and
  • Taking care of oneself is more important than taking care of anyone else, including family and children.

Your near and dear perspectives don’t have to be as drastic as these. They could be ideologies like these:

  • I have the right to spend some part of each day focused on my physical, mental, and emotional well-being, no matter how many other things are on my to-do list;  
  • I have the right to decline requests and commitments that I don’t enjoy or that would require more time than I can give and still have balance; 
  • I cannot save the world, and I will not feel guilty for not trying to or wanting to;
  • If someone I love or care about experiences pain, and I do not intervene, for whatever reason, I am not a bad person. I can care about them, feel badly for them, and do nothing; and
  • I do not have to navigate life as if I am running a deficit in a series of trades and tit for tat exchanges; I am not indebted to the world. My life and resources are for me to enjoy, and I get to choose what I share with others. 

Brazen statements like these are often met with shock, anger and ridicule. Self-assured people, especially self-assured women (and try self-assured and a woman of color – can you say #FaniWillis?). Such women are labeled as selfish, mean, out of God’s order, and even unlovable. Here’s what is also true: you probably hold at least one of these perspectives, even if you haven’t bothered to express it or incorporate it into how you actually live. People throw at you what they think you fear most when they want to control or subdue you.

Verbally expressing your values isn’t necessary. As a matter of fact, expressing your perspective for the purpose of getting other people to understand your point of view becomes increasingly counterproductive. Some people are unwilling to respect a viewpoint that they don’t personally hold. It’s not worth the fight, and you have to leave them to come around on their own. Trying to win them over is like punching the wind. Additionally, fighting to be heard by someone who won’t hear or respect you is akin to an admission that you aren’t confident in the validity of your own beliefs and need someone to affirm you in your own beliefs. Instead of pushing to get others to respect you, aim to respect yourself. 


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