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March 09, 2012

Why Take The High Road?…And By The Way, What Is The High Road Exactly?

IStock_0grounded womanll(2)Across the world people struggle in difficult conversations, times of upset, painful discoveries etc.  When people become upset or angry they often want to lash out, seek revenge, shut down or explode.  Saying calm, cool and collected as the saying goes, is often the last thing humans want to do when hurt or upset.

Sometimes people lash out for the sole purpose of causing the other person pain so they “get” what it feels like to be hurt.  Other times the lashing out is simply a knee-jerk reaction.  Regardless, though, of why human beings lash out when hurt, I’m sure all of us can understand the pull to want to do so.  After all, who can’t understand the desire to yell, scream and rage at your spouse for having an affair with your best friend? I totally understand wanting to do that and more!

…And, I also know—that freaking out on a spouse because of an affair, or on a friend in response to them saying mean things, or to a co-worker for putting your job in jeopardy—is not going to serve you.  The last thing you want to do is make life harder for yourself by reacting in the extremes.  When you’re able to respond to life’s most difficult circumstances with grace, calm and strength, you will feel better and heal faster.  The bottom-line when it comes to handling life’s most difficult moments is to always remember to take the high road—even when those around you are behaving atrociously.

Below are five reasons to take the high road:
1.     When you respond to hurtful behavior by acting like a crazy person--people will see you as a crazy person.  When you respond with integrity—others begin to look at the other person as though they are the unhealthy one.
2.    When you freak out in response to someone else’s freak out—that person ignores your message and simply thinks, “You think I’m crazy—look at you.”  Your poor behavior gets in the way of them seeing their own poor behavior. 
3.    When you’re able to act with calm and integrity in the face of someone else’s hurtful behavior, it feels empowering, healthy and internally strong.
4.    When you can stay calm in the most difficult of moments, you avoid the “reactivity hangover”.  There’s no shame, self-hatred, regret or embarrassment about what you did.  You can hold your head high and feel good about you.
5.    When you stoop to the other person’s level you are off.  Take the high road knowing that the poor behavior of others is NOT a green light for your own poor behavior.

Taking the high road means to act with integrity at all times—not just the good times, happy times or respectful times.  Harming another physically, spiritually or emotionally is out of integrity—even in response to an affair, lies or manipulations.  Don’t stoop to some else’s level and claim your behavior is okay.  Stay respectful, set limits, take care of yourself and then decide how you’re going to intervene in such a way that you’re respectful of yourself and the humanity of the other person.  Avoid the awful feeling “reactivity hangover” and remember that although seeking revenge or going off on the person may feel great in the moment—that feeling seldom lasts forever.

Challenge:  If you’re struggling with someone else’s hurtful behavior, pull back, breathe, calm your heart rate down and dare to take the high road.  Refuse to act like an out of control raging person.  Settle yourself and respond with calm, strength and grace.  You will feel better for it and can hold your head high under the most difficult of circumstances.

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