We’ve all heard the old adage…Choose your battles wisely. As a highly sensitive person, I’ve always vigorously believed in this philosophy because I know the emotional and physical toll that conflict can unleash on my mind and body! However, I must admit that it isn’t always obvious to me which battles are worth fighting. The conflicts I struggle with the most are those where I know I am “in the right.” Like many HSPs, I have a strong sense of justice and feel the need to punish wrongdoers.
I was faced with just this type of conflict when my wife and I moved into our new home in Missouri. After a disastrous experience with a long-distance moving company, I spent the first hours in our new home plopped down on the floor…in utter exhaustion and almost boiling over with anger! Not only was I surrounded by mountains of boxes…but also damaged furniture, broken glass, and other ruined belongings! As we unpacked, we would be assessing our damages. I was terrified of what we would find! This was definitely NOT what I had expected to feel after accomplishing our multi-year goal of moving 950 miles halfway across the country.
My first thought was to take retaliatory action against the mover. We would sue the pants off them and make them pay dearly for their incompetence! Wouldn’t I be crazy not to? The lack of care they took with our belongings was unbelievable and totally unacceptable! It’s ironic that the items we packed ourselves were completely intact, including the things we placed into a portable storage unit and in the cargo truck that I drove halfway across the country! The thought of suing the moving company instantly made me feel better. I imagined us being fully compensated, and the movers learning a hard lesson. I breathed my way to calm, picked myself up off the floor, and started unpacking what we would need to get through our first night.
Although my wife and I regretted the way our move went, we made a conscious decision to NOT let negativity guide our feelings. Instead, we chose to celebrate accomplishing things that had once seemed impossible. We were able to renovate and sell our house of 33 years. We bought a house that we loved in a great neighborhood, and most importantly, a house that would be closer to our daughter. I sold my business of 35 years and settled my mother’s estate. We did all of this in less than 2 years! Throughout this whole process, my wife and I had managed to keep our composure and to not get divorced!
While we would inevitably have to deal with the moving company, we weren’t under the pressure of a strict timetable. At the moment, there were many things to do in setting up our household. It was a relief to finally have our belongings in one place, even if some things were damaged. My wife and I needed time to decompress from the prolonged stress that we had experienced. Moving definitely takes its physical and emotional toll on you. It’s no wonder it’s rated as one of life’s top stressors!
After settling in a bit, we were ready to address our problems with the moving company. When we didn’t have much luck in getting them to compensate us for the damage, we checked into taking legal action against them. After talking with a lawyer and doing extensive research, it was obvious that there would be many legal obstacles on that path, not to mention additional expenses. To be honest, the legal system has never worked for me. While I believe in having legal agreements, my experience has shown me the difficulty of actually enforcing them.
We were now at a turning point on what to do. On the one hand, we had every right to be compensated for our losses! But the bigger question that loomed large over me was….at what cost? Could I take on a legal battle? The death of my mother, dealing with her estate, selling my business of 35 years, taking care of all the things involved with my New Jersey home, coping with all the bad experiences with the move, and moving to a new environment were a lot to deal with! My HSP nervous system had been on overload for so long, and adding another thing seemed like too much!
I told my wife that we didn’t need more stress on top of what we’d already experienced. We were in our new home, and I thought we should just make the best of the situation. Even though we were wronged, the toll of a prolonged, legal fight would be way too high! The refrain from Kenny Rogers’ song “The Gambler” came to mind…You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run! Well, it was time for us to “walk away.”
Fortunately, my wife wholeheartedly agreed. We would make do with the broken furniture and cope with our losses. Some items could be fixed. Other things would be donated or thrown out. Material possessions could be replaced, unlike our health and sanity!
The key take away from this terrible experience was the importance of choosing to be happy rather than right. There are some situations where letting go is the most empowering thing you can do. After making this decision, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders! I knew this was a sign that I had made the right choice.
Of course, there are situations where it makes sense to fight back or retaliate. After all, you don’t want to become a “human doormat,” but it’s essential to make your decision within the context of everything else going on in your life. If a dispute with a contractor had been the only trouble I had, I may have made a different choice. But in this case, I instinctively knew that adding another stressor would have collapsed my entire “house of cards.”
Do you walk away from things that aren’t good for you? Are you able to choose being happy over being right? If so, how does that make you feel? Do you feel a sense of relief? Or is justice more important than self-preservation? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.
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The next post, (18) Running Myself Ragged and Dealing with the Medical Establishment (Part 1) , is about the effects of stress on my health and the frustrations I had in dealing with the healthcare system.