Fighting this, fighting that, fighting for, or fighting against…
For most of us, we are fighting our entire life, but not because we have to. We fight instead of collaborate because we are trained to fight from a very young age. Unfortunately, this constant fighting, arguing, anger and violence is causing mild to severe health problems, both physical and mental. Capitalism is a big influence on our “need” to fight, and it is time to stop the nonsense and start the positive energy of collective collaboration, assistance in understanding, cooperation.
- To attempt to harm or gain power over an adversary by blows or with weapons.
- To engage in a boxing match.
- To engage in a quarrel; argue.
"They are always fighting about money."
- The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
How much does this constant discord affect our health?
A Human Fight
- From a very young age we (are taught to / not taught not to) fight with our peers over toys, food, space (to play, sit). The normal reaction is to be unhappy when someone takes your favorite toy, but if that behavior isn’t corrected from a young age it will just get stronger. We should be taught that fighting about toys isn’t a big deal. Remain calm and carry on so to speak – parents can redirect and if it is done from an early enough age it will help to keep someone from automatically going to a “MINE!” reaction on reflex. We certainly don’t want to reaffirm the anger by yelling at a different child to “give it back!” as that is just parental approval of escalation.
- As our emotions and hormones start their frantic push/pull, we often fight with our peers over friends, feelings, better toys.
- As we grow the fighting continues, and we hone our skills – fight or flight response becomes harder to control as we keep reaffirming those auto-responses from our “lizard brain”. We typically fight with our elders more during these “teen” years. We push boundaries, do things we promise not to do, lie, and argue a lot.
- We are fighting for our personal freedoms at this point. What we want to do vs what we are “allowed” to do, by elders, laws, clergy and peers.
- By the time we hit 20 most have begun fighting for their right to identity. Most will fight others’ labels (body identity, sexual identity, racial identity, scholastic, intelligence, personal drive, etc) in our quest for “who we are / what we want to be”.
- Employment begins, and we fight for an interview, then compete constantly with peers and elders for advancement. We fight layoffs, wages, benefits, schedules, and often bosses who have no business managing others.
- We fight to pay off college loans, business loans, rent / mortgages. 99% of us have a budget that leaves little left at the end of the month, and often in the red.
- We fight for time off to actually enjoy life, because we didn’t fight to be employed by doing something you enjoy. Usually we can’t even fight for that job though - the option(s) don’t exist or are unknown to us.
- We pair up with a spouse so we can “fight together” to achieve our goals: retire (financially) while still physically, mentally and emotionally able to enjoy it. Unfortunately disagreements are virtually inevitable when you stick any two people together to live.
- We fight with neighbors, we fight with those we buy (or sell) goods or services to.
- We fight with family, often our entire lives.
- We fight insurance companies to do what we have paid them to do (same with contractors and others).
- We fight with our health needs, often the result of the very jobs we have used to make it to retirement!
- Instead of being compensated for an on-the-job injury, we have to fight for it. Instead of SSDI compensating you for a permanent disability… yup, gotta FIGHT for it. Some disability cases have dragged on for five years or more, and for those five years some would be destitute, or at least killed much of their retirement savings. If they didn’t have much saved (over 90% don’t), they could lose the house, or if renting would be living underhoused.
We fight too damned much throughout our lives, but do we really need to? Do we want to? Direct physical fighting definitely causes physical harm. Just ask a boxer or a football player. Football, because it is basically a “full contact battle game.” Of course football is just a game, with many rules0 while war is no game, with much fewer rules, but the idea is the same. Physically overpower your opponents, sneak around them, fly over them, beat them. Better yet, just ask a veteran of armed conflict.
But what about arguing, or just getting angry without taking it to battle, so to speak? There are definitely psychological problems associated with increased fighting / heated arguing, as well as being angry (typically the precurser to a fight), and from a very young age:
From the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Physical fighting in childhood as a risk factor for later mental health problems
Objective: The prevalence, persistence, and desistance of boys' physical fighting was examined over a 7-year period. The importance of persistent physical fighting compared with other risk factors in the prediction of later mental health problems was explored.
Method: One hundred seventy-seven boys, aged 7 to 12 years, who had been referred to clinics for mental health problems were followed up annually for 7 years, with the boys, their parents, and teachers as informants.
“…boys who desisted, compared with those who persisted, had higher intelligence and their mothers scored lower on measures of antisocial personality disorder. At year 7, persistent fighting was significantly associated with impairment. The prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses in year 7 was 3 times higher for persistent fighters than for nonfighters. Using regression analyses with several control variables, conduct disorder was best predicted by earlier oppositional defiant disorder in year 1 and persistent fighting. Global impairment was best predicted by oppositional defiant disorder in year 1, persistent fighting, and low IQ. Finally, the number of diagnoses at year 7 was best predicted by persistent fighting.
Conclusion: Physical fighting constitutes a significant mental health risk in referred boys.
Just being around this type of toxic environment is detrimental to one’s health, as PhsycCentral notes:
Can Parents Fighting Affect a Child’s Mental Health?
When parents argue, it can impact the children — but the type of impact can depend on whether the conflict is healthy and productive or negative and harmful.
From the moment a child is born, parents are responsible for shaping the world in which that child lives. The level of safety, emotional stability, love, and comfort a child experiences depends on how the parents and family structure their surrounding environment.
Regular, hostile, or abusive arguing undermines the safety a child feels and can leave them emotionally insecure and uncertain of their present and future.
The 2016 study suggested that over time these effects can lead to:
From Positive Psychology
Anger Management for Teens: Helpful Worksheets & Resources
Anger is typically expressed differently depending on the age of the child. Adolescent teenagers show their anger in more grown-up ways, most likely using their developed language and motor skills.
I for one would have had a much better experience in school, especially those more difficult early to late teen years, with better communication skills. I have become more adept at negotiation, disarming, calming and listening. Ah, listening, now there is the most important word in communication. You are taught to fight for good grades, fight your impulses, and literally fight to save face. Instead it would be more healthy to be taught better communication (listening!) skills, compromise, cooperation, and collaboration / teamwork.
This study shows how dangerous arguing can be:
Why arguing can really affect your health
A new study has revealed that too many of these arguments can spike your risk of death in your middle-aged years. And the spike is pretty dramatic, too.
This study, led by Dr. Rikke Lund at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, examined the link between people who argue a lot and their risk of dying young. The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health in May. The research looked at 9,875 men and women between the ages of 36 and 52 where the individuals were asked to give detailed accounts of their negative social interactions.
This research has given insight to the notion that anger and stress can kill you.
From Harvard Medical School:
From irritated to enraged: Anger's toxic effect on the heart
The effect is small and short-lived, but anger can trigger a heart attack, stroke, or risky heart rhythm.
Have you ever been so angry that it "made your blood boil"? In fact, anger can trigger physiological changes that affect your blood, temporarily elevating your risk of a heart attack or related problem. Research shows that in the two hours after an angry outburst, a person has a slightly higher risk of having chest pain (angina), a heart attack, a stroke, or a risky heart rhythm.
Physical violence and exposure to it causes health problems, and death, as shown in Health Affairs:
Biological Mechanisms Of The Health Effects Of Violence Exposure
The physical injuries that stem from violence have been studied more extensively than have the mental health effects, with work on the latter area intensifying in the past two to three decades. The development of neuroscience and the study of the effects of the environment on multiple aspects of human biology—combined with the conduct of longitudinal cohort studies and, in some cases, randomized clinical trials—have elucidated how exposure to violence in its different forms can adversely affect health.
Homicide is the leading cause of death among African American youths, with 94 percent of those deaths caused by a firearm.
How Anger Can Hurt Your Heart
Medically Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on April 27, 2015
Written by Katherine Kam
Emotions such as anger and hostility ramp up your "fight or flight” response. When that happens, stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, speed up your heart rate and breathing.
You get a burst of energy. Your blood vessels tighten. Your blood pressure soars.
You’re ready to run for your life or fight an enemy. If this happens often, it causes wear and tear on your artery walls.
Forbes comments on the constant fight for a sale and increased stress for sales people:
When A Competitive Workplace Culture Turns Toxic
According to an article for Business Leader, Raiys, a U.K.-based app, found that anxiety and depression among salespeople are three times higher than in any other profession. In the article, a participant in the survey shed some light as to why this might be: “The results come as no surprise to me. The culture of working in sales and constantly needing to hit new targets creates a lot of stress for everyone involved, and this is what caused me to leave my position.”
Within industries like sales, targets are essential for driving competition and growth. But often, when an employee has little job satisfaction beyond hitting targets, their mental health can plummet when they don’t meet them. The same goes for reward-based schemes, like bonuses. In extreme cases, staff can feel their own self-worth is connected to their performance at work. An example of this is commission-only positions. If workers’ take-home pay is directly linked to their performance, this places a huge amount of pressure on them.
Now I know we talk about “healthy competition”, but it really isn’t. It is healthy for profits when we constantly strive to produce better products or services to stay ahead of your other business peers. It is, I believe, less healthy for employees and profits to “fight to beat the competition". The only difference here is the wording, and the lack of fighting. When we tell ourselves we are fighting all of the time, that sinks in. We are more on edge, more combative, more in the “fight or flight” mindset than the “cooperative and collaborative” mindset, which I believe will produce better results in the end. If we aren’t “fighting” we are staying calmer, able to think more clearly, and less likely to see everyone as the “enemy” you need to “fight”.
Fighting is so often inferred where it doesn’t belong. Someone with a serious disease isn’t necessarily “fighting” to survive. Even if they still have some “fight” left in them. How many people actually “fight” for their rights? A lot of folks here, that’s for sure! Politicians “fight”, especially the new flailing Republican party. Well, all of this fighting just isn’t healthy. I believe any fighting is unhealthy, but there are still those advocating “healthy fights”, although I think they are typically referring to disagreements, which can be resolved through healthy and open communication. That is not a “healthy fight”, that is good human communication. There are literally no two people out of 7.5 Billion who would agree on every single thing (IMHO). Instead of fighting and being on the defense it is more healthy to be proactive in managing your health. Understanding, pragmatism, acceptance and action, such as “I have PTSD, so I work with a therapist to help devise ways to cope” or “my ALS will most likely kill me in the next 2-4 years, so I will proactively work on keeping as mobile and communicative as I can, while working on tidying up and ‘closing up shop’ on my life.”
The end result of a lifetime of fighting can include many health problems, but it also results in training others in the methods of fighting. Typically not on purpose, but is demonstrated time and time again as one grows up by those around us. For some it is excruciatingly common, while for others it is all but absent.
Last and surely worst is wars of national or international scope. Fighting for ideals we are told to defend. Sending out the young, often recent high-school graduates, fighting for some ideals they are told to defend, who might then die or have severe physical and psychological problems as a result. Ethnicity, religion, nationalism, imaginary lines drawn on our planet… and not one is so valuable as a human life. Life of our fellow brothers and sisters on Earth are not ones and zeros in a hard drive.
So, how about capitalism and fighting? Capitalism is built for a fight — lots of them! Fighting is inherent in capitalism. On the other hand, what about all of those pacifist socialists? You know, the ones who want to work collectively to help each other and succeed in a much stronger economy, better quality of life, and much less fighting. Capitalism and fighting are not the same thing, but they sure make great bedfellows.
I want to do what I can in my lifetime to help cure this (fighting) and other negative human conditions, but I refuse to fight for it. I will collaborate, coordinate, cooperate, and assist others, make suggestions, and create content, but the fighting is over.
ONE LOVE! (time to give up the fight, instead demand your rights!)
*note: Much of the text is my personal opinion. Direct quotes are all noted as such.