Why Do We Fight? And How to Stop

Why do we fight? Whether it’s a dog fight in the sky, or a covert fight with a colleague, the basic fuel is the same.

Fighting Is About Covering up Weakness

It’s about trying to win, or gain, or look good. Or it is about trying not to lose, or look bad. Either way, it is an attempt to cover up weakness.

What do I mean by that?

What I mean is that true strength does not feel threatened, nor is it greedy. It does not need to conquer, nor is it afraid of being conquered. It doesn’t care if it looks good or bad. It doesn’t care who wins.

That Kind of Strength is Rare

It is a strength of the spirit.

But it can be cultured slowly over time. What prevents this kind of strength is small mindedness. Which is another way of saying that small, stressful thoughts are what cover up this natural strength in all of us.

When I believe that I don’t have enough money, I’m more likely to do aggressive, dishonest things to get it. When I’m trying to pretend that I’m more experienced than I am, I’m more likely to fight with someone to prove my expertise. When I believe that I’m a victim, I’m more likely to attack when it’s not necessary.

Intuitively, I Know That I Am Strong

But my stressful beliefs rob me from fully experiencing that strength—until I question them. When I question my stressful thoughts, I often find that my weaknesses are not weaknesses. They are either completely illusory, or what I thought was a weakness is actually a strength.

This realization comes through inquiry. You can’t just flip a switch. You have to start where you are (angry, victimized, unhappy). And you have to let that side be heard. And then you can gently question the story that the mind is believing.

My favorite way to do this is The Work of Byron Katie, a systematic way to question stressful thoughts. It cuts through illusion so quickly for me. And it leaves me feeling strong, even without any change to my essential character or circumstances.

Here Are a Couple of Examples of The Work in Action

1. A client was asking herself, “Why do we fight?” regarding a team member, but after doing The Work on her thoughts about him, she realized that she was really just trying to cover up her weak point: her negotiation skills. As soon as she saw this, she realized that she didn’t have to hide it. By admitting her weak point, she could be free. In fact, he could even become a mentor for her.

2. I was defensive with a participant in The Work 101 until I did The Work on my stressful thoughts about her. Then I realized that I was trying to cover up the fact that I was manipulating the whole group to do something the way I wanted it done. She was calling out what I wanted to hide. That’s why I was fighting. As soon as I saw that, I apologized, and changed my policy.

Freedom comes when I see my part (without beating myself up about it), admitting it to myself and others. As soon as I take ownership, there’s no more fight. There’s no more cover up, so there’s no more need to fight.

Ironically, this kind of “defeat” feels like victory to me.

So Why Do We Fight?

We fight to protect ourselves.

But the more I own the parts I’m trying to hide, the less there is inside of me that I need to protect. That feels like strength, humility, honesty, freedom, generosity, and the beginning of teamwork.

I encourage you to keep asking yourself, “Why do we fight?” in each situation. Then write your stressful thoughts on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet worksheet and question what you wrote using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

If you want dive into questioning any stressful thoughts with me, or to listen as others do The Work, or to ask questions about The Work, join us for my free Open Session every week.

Have a great week,

“Humility is the opposite of subservience and the beginning of you stepping into your power…” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is That True?