Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thoughts on Right Fighters

I love this phrase that is used by Dr. Phil McGraw: Right Fighters. It is just a perfect phrase to describe the situation when a person always thinks they are right and wants to battle everyone around him in order to convert them to their way of thinking.

I was reminded of this phrase when I phoned my midwife to schedule my annual exam. I was shocked to hear that the practice had broken up and that now my midwife was working for a large OB/GYN group owned by a certain doctor. The Right Fighter part comes into this story because of one of my sister-in-laws. Just months after I got pregnant with my first, she became pregnant with her first. We both used the GYN who we had each gone to all of our lives, for our prenatal care—we had different doctors in different practices. She always had this attitude that her practice was the best and she was so happy with them. She seemed offended that I’d go to a different practice. I really didn’t care who she got her care from. As it turned out my OB was going on vacation 11 days before my due date. The minute I heard that I knew that I’d deliver when she was on vacation. I had a prenatal visit on her last day of work, first thing in the morning. I didn’t realize it but that accidentally put me into labor because the back pain I felt while exiting the office was actually early labor pains (I know they say that in books but when it was really happening to me I thought it was ‘just’ back pain). My water broke that evening, just two hours after her workday ended and when her vacation technically began, and guess who the delivering doctor was? It was my sister-in-law’s doctor.

My OB then stopped delivering babies so for baby #2 I needed a new doctor and I wanted a natural birth with a midwife so I found a Certified Nurse Midwife that did hospital deliveries. This time that sister-in-law was pregnant with her #2 just a few months before I was pregnant. Again we had the Right Fighting going on, some kind of battle about how she loved her doctors. This time I was adamant to have a more natural pregnancy. So this also involved a battle about her wanting all the drugs and inducement of her labor and everything she could get while I sought a natural birth. For example she bragged of her ultrasounds at every single prenatal visit while I said I’d only had two the entire time (which horrified her). She seemed irritated that I was not in line with her outlook. Well so now my CNM is employed by that practice, so my CNM’s boss happens to be her favorite doctor. I was wondering now what she would think as her OB must like my midwife and her philosophies or else he would not have hired her, right?

I started out life as a Right Fighter. I first got a glimpse of this when I was about eight or nine and I was being told that I was doing ‘back talk’ and then that I ‘always wanted people to do things my way’. It really became apparent to me when I was a teenager when I was around some really annoying people who I then realized were just acting the same way as me (gasp) and I realized how my words may sound to other people (and I was horrified).

Later while working, that fact was illuminated yet again. I had to consciously work to stop myself from being a Right Fighter as it does not at all fit in with many workplaces. For one thing workplace attitude and how I got along with others was on my annual evaluation and was tied to my raise! It was important not just that my boss think I had a good attitude and got along with others but I actually did have to get along with everyone and sometimes that meant not even discussing things where my idea was different than theirs. This was when I was working in a small business, working with about six people day in and day out, and with some part-timer’s here and there. I had to get along with everyone and we were all so different and worked in different ways and had different work ethics. I was of the mind that there were the workplace rules, that we all should follow them, that we all should work hard and do all the things we were supposed to—but I learned that not everyone was like that. I’d often come in to work and find undone work from the night shift so I’d start off my day doing someone else’s work because at the end of my shift that night shift that took over would be irate if I had left THEM work. At my next job I found that this was also especially an issue in corporate environments where ‘teamwork’ is the goal and where political correctness and evidence of always optimistic attitudes are the only allowed ways to communicate.

My new outlook is that I have an opinion regarding my own business and I like to talk about ideas with others. I respect the opinions of others even if I disagree with their theories or if I think they outright believe (what they think is) a falsehood. I am the type of person who can discuss things rationally and who can agree to disagree. The older I get the less I care what other people think to be honest. I don’t have the energy to figure out what others think then to try to covert them over to my way of thinking. I don’t nix people out of my life if they don’t believe all that I do because people are so complex and we change our minds, it is impossible to find a person who believes exactly everything that another person does. As for others who believe other ideas I don’t really care what they think except if it negatively impacts me or harms other people or harms creatures or the larger world in some way.

I recently realized that my younger son is a Right Fighter. Oh no!! How will I deal with that??

I was under some impression that being a Right Fighter may be a learned behavior after having it modeled to them. This would align with the fact that my father is a Right Fighter and I grew up with that and I was the same way. (He still is a Right Fighter as he sees no reason to change his ways.) However I have not demonstrated being a Right Fighter to my son and he is one so the idea of it being learned, I am tossing out the window. I now suspect being a Right Fighter is an inborn personality trait that can be handed down to people in their genes. In order to stop being a Right Fighter (at least about every single little thing in life) a person must learn to change their thinking, so the inborn natural tendency can be actively changed by the person of their own free will (it does take a lot of effort though). Of course no one can change something they don’t acknowledge or something that they don’t want to put any effort into addressing.

I don’t advocate for stopping being a Right Fighter just to get along with others, just to be a follower. I think it is alright to hold an opinion but it is just really annoying and not conducive to good relations with other people to constantly Right Fight about every single little thing. Right Fighters should pick their battles. Right Fighters also need to learn how to communicate politely and clearly and in a way that doesn’t instantly offend everyone. This can be difficult and it can take a lot of effort. The main reason to try to stop being a Right Fighter is that it helps a person be healthier, mentally and physically.

I don’t think it is healthy to be a Right Fighter. This is the main reason that I encourage all Right Fighters to Get Over It. It is unhealthy because it leaves a person in a continual bad state of mind, with a bad attitude that can run over into all areas of life and that can spoil the ability for a person to feel happiness. We all, as humans want to be liked and accepted. The problem is that the Right Fighter often feels different than other people, they often feel not accepted—this can also be directly caused by the person due to their own communications or actions if they engage in Right Fighting with other people. So you see the Right Fighter starts the problem in the first place then they are unhappy that the situation is happening at all.

The way a Right Fighter’s mind works is that they continually notice when other people are thinking or doing something in a different way then that person things is the right way. Then they are annoyed about this and want the other person to change and do it the Right Way. Many people are resistant to change and will not just abandon their idea or action in order to please the Right Fighter. This refusal on the part of the other person to change is highly annoying to the Right Fighter. Some Right Fighters can dwell on those negative issues and some also ruminate. Ruminating is not at all a healthy thing to do.

When in the Right Fighting mode the Right Fighter feels a bit like they are doing battle, they are also feeling sometimes defensive, especially if they take the other person’s differing idea or action as a criticism that their own way is wrong or inferior. Staying in battle mode is not healthy for the mind or body. I would bet that a person’s cortisol level is higher when thinking about or doing Right Fighting.

I could never have married a Right Fighter. Two Right Fighters in a close relationship is a dangerous thing. Sometimes I wonder if some of the marriages or relationships with a lot of fighting and also with verbal abuse and/or physical abuse are situations were both are Right Fighters. My older son is not a Right Fighter and in other ways too he has inherited my husband’s personality traits. I can imagine that having a Right Fighter as a sibling would be highly annoying. I am much better now at having an idea of how I come across to others and so I can now imagine that some of the ways that I have acted in the past could have been very aggravating.

Right Fighters themselves do have to learn how to deal with other Right Fighters.

The older my kids get the more I see of their personalities. I can see more and more aspects right now that I know will continue right into adulthood because I can see that certain things are ‘just the way they are’. The challenge for me now is to work on the behaviors while they are young to get them acting well and right before they are towering over me and before they are double my size. I don’t want to just begin working on parenting when they are out of control teenagers who can use their rage to inflict bodily harm on me! But now I am taking this to a totally different discussion. My point is that right now I am trying to figure out how to best parent a Right Fighter so that I can possibly teach my son some things that will help him get along with others better now and in the future. He has a low tolerance for certain people and what is happening is that he tends to nix people out of his life and refuses to have friendships or to interact with certain other children. This is leading him to have limited opportunities for developing close friendships. For example if once a child refused to go along with my son’s idea he decided he could never be friends with that kid because he ‘doesn’t like him’. If he keeps this up he’ll end up being a loner.

Anyhow if you have a Right Fighter in your life and if you have not yet figured out how to handle them you should start learning because to not get along well with a Right Fighter, especially in a workplace setting could really make your life miserable. Perhaps some insider advice on how to get along with a Right Fighter would be a good idea for another blog posts. So many ideas, so little time…

One last thought: I have a feeling that many activists are Right Fighters. People who take up causes and believe extreme views I have a feeling are Right Fighters. To choose to live certain lifestyles such as the vegan lifestyle take a lot of persistence and dedication that I suspect only a Right Fighter has. It could be that the Right Fighter has learned to curb their personal communications with others so maybe they don’t necessarily display Right Fighting with their interpersonal relations but to life the life of a vegan takes a kind of discipline and strong will that I think is usually also present with Right Fighters. Those who cross the line from just living their life with certain views to then reach out and communicate to the world in small ways or in activist ways takes a kind of chutzpah that Right Fighters also possess .I think of the vegans that I know who are trying to convert others to become vegans and those who try to tell others how wrong they are to eat animals. An example from my life right now is that it is one thing to not like a bill that is in the Congress right now, a higher level to actually email others about it to engage in discussion, it takes more to write a letter or call a legislator about, and an even more to go to a face to face rally type of event especially if that might end up having face to face discussions with legislators. For those who believe in causes, it is one thing to have the opinion, another to donate money to that organization, and even more to actually volunteer with that organization.

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1 comment:

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...


In some cases, it is probably a good thing to be a Right Fighter. When the issue is important and the stakes are high, it is important for a person to stand up and be counted.

On the other hand, there is a lot of unecessary Right Fighting. My shoe Yekkeism, my sister's grammar perfection kick, and all of the Right Fighting that goes on about the One True Way to Homeschool! :)