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Have you ever used the phrase fighting fire with fire when it comes to an argument with another person? I always picture someone spewing a ball of fire from their mouth into an already out of control fire only to see the fire completely engulf both people bringing them both down. Yet I see this mindset and strategy used all the time when human beings are engaged in a battle.
The term fighting fire with fire originated from a 19th century fire fighting method where small fires were set in advance of a larger fire coming to reduce the “fuel” in the larger fire’s path. The concept seems great but it gave rise to other issues. Without a way to put out the smaller fires before a larger fire approached, the whole strategy backfires resulting in fire completely devastating the area.
What can we learn from the 19th century fire strategy? One, we don’t even use is correctly when we fight. Iit’s not a very smart strategy when it comes to human behavior. And two, why start additional fires when the goal is to put the fire out?
If we are only starting fires, elevating our own anger, in the face of someone who is already angry we are only successful in intensifying the anger in the room. With both parties now angry, and fuming, no one can see above the flames. No one is in a state of mind to reduce the heat and hear the other person. We are now in a battle to out anger the other party and create even more destruction.
More Fire = More Anger = More Destruction
Fires don’t put out fires. Fighting doesn’t create peace. An eye for an eye doesn’t bring about vision.
Instead of bringing more fire to the fight, try to understand why the person is upset to begin with. Try hearing them out. That’s really all they want. They want to feel heard. They want to calm down too and not feel they have to fight their way through life. To win a fight you must first stop fighting. Then you can hear what needs to be heard and you will see the fire, the anger, the fear in the other person turn down and end its destruction.
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