By Dr. Mike Brooks
I was six years old when our military family made the long drive from Fort Lewis, Washington to Fort Slocum, NY. My sister Deb had a knack for picking fights. My dad didn’t tolerate fighting in the car and my sister, who was 5 years old at the time, was looking for trouble. She was bored on this leg of the trip, however, I was content just trying to color in a coloring book.
At one point during the drive, my sister kept pinching me. Even though I told her to stop and pushed her away she kept pinching me. I begged her to stop. About that time, my dad yelled at both of us to stop and settle down. She pinched me once again and that’s when my dad told us we had better behave or we would get spanked. Once again, my sister placed a painful pinch just behind my arm. I let out a yell and punched her in the shoulder.
Within minutes my dad pulled over to the side of the road and drug me out of the car and began spanking me. Even though traffic was going by, I was getting a good paddling. When he finally stopped spanking me he told me that I was to get in the car and say nothing or I would get another licking! After about 30 minutes down the road, I was still crying hard and didn’t stop until he finally said, “Why are you still crying?” Between my crying and trying to breath, I told him that when he was spanking me my shoe fell off. That didn’t go over very well and he was upset that I didn’t tell him sooner. My sister provoked me and I ultimately paid the price.
I see people provoke others in all kinds of relationships including marriage, family, work and school. How we respond is key in keeping peace and moving on. When couples come to counsel with me and I hear one person telling me that the other is looking for faults in their marriage, they seem to constantly repeat the history of mistakes. The person who is on the receiving end of takes that as being provoked and feels the need to defend themselves. Then the war of words and history grows into a full argument. I tell my clients not to go there, walk away and take time to think about what is causing the argument. Don’t provoke arguments. I have seen many divorces happen because of anger and provoking someone into an argument.
Can you name the things which commonly provoke arguments? Can you add to this list?
These are just a few and I am sure you can add many to this list. I have friends who point out incorrect statements of others during simple conversations. You may pronounce the name of a city one way and your friend may correct you in front of a group of people because they pronounce it a different way. I have seen it happen. To others it looks like a provocation and someone that is mean spirited.
I suggest that if you are the one who likes to provoke disagreements, then stop. It’s unattractive and pushes people away from you. If you are on the receiving end, then just walk away and don’t get into it. Keep the peace in your sphere of influence.
Dr. Michael Brooks is the founder of Applicable Life Coaching and Counseling Services. His services are affordable, accessible, anonymous and available by appointment from the privacy of your own home. To avoid travel time and the comfort of home, many clients prefer to meet with Dr. Mike over the phone or via Skype. The convenience of this type of coaching is the most effective means of Life Coaching and counseling for those who live out of the Denver-metro area. Give Dr. Mike a call! You’ll be glad you did!
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