The Power of Non-Engagement


It so happens that at soon as I closed the door on one conflict another one comes knocking. I won’t go into the details because I prefer not to give the situation any merit but I will say one thing. When the problem was brought to my attention I was faced with two options, address it (with the possibility of starting a “beef”) or letting it go. After some quick deliberation I decided to do a little bit of both.

A big part of my newly incorporated policy involves making it clear to others when they have either offended me or crossed a boundary yet a small part of that includes picking my battles and/or  letting things go. Most will immediately notice my challenge. It takes a lot of energy to balance this,  a lot of wisdom to know when and how to engage in a conflict, to do what you can to set things straight on your end and at what point to leave it alone.

So here I am faced with a situation that both pissed me off and deeply hurt my feelings. There were three parties involved, two people I know well and one I did not. My first reaction was to go in and really start some mess but I checked myself. I’ve already adopted a “no bullshit, no drama” policy and I recognized that responding in such a matter would create just that. At the same time I couldn’t completely ignore it either. Before I could act on anything I had to step outside myself and analyze the situation. First, I had to admit that my feelings were  hurt and why they were hurt.  I realized that , based on the kind of relationship I had with two of the people involved, I had a certain expectation of how they should have handled things that was not fulfilled.  I had to consider all the parties involved and their motivations for engaging in the kind of behavior that they did. One, I could kind of guess the state of mind they were in. The other, is just a naturally messy person. And the last, doesn’t even know me so who knows why they got involved at all. Once I determined the root of the conflict I was able to address it. I contacted the main person and expressed to them that I was angry with them and exactly why I was angry. After a talk they apologized for their part and corrected the offense and I was able to accept the apology and let it go. The second person offered a dilemma. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to them directly or leave it alone altogether. After some thought I decided to cut them off completely but that wasn’t enough for me and I ended up contacting them and letting them know, very civilly, that they crossed a line with their behavior and that I was essentially “cool” off them. The last person, the one who doesn’t even know me, I was almost tempted to contact them and call them out just to make it clear that I was not intimidated by them but I realize that such behavior is extremely silly and unnecessary. A waste of time and energy. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone and I realize that if they had that much of a problem with me personally they could have contacted me directly. Therefore,  I found it wise to exercise a stance of non-engagement.

And I must say that it was a bit empowering.

Not feeding into unnecessary conflict essentially takes the power out of the hands of those creating problems and places it in yours. Not every slight requires your attention. Conflict is literally like a fire,  without oxygen fanning the flames it will quickly die out. If I go about jumping all over every so-called beef I would never be productive, it’s time and energy best spent in other areas.

It may seem like there’s more power in asserting yourself in a conflict, but the true strength lies in non-engagement. Something is only a problem if you allow it to be. Pick and choose your battles.


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