“Your decision to silence, bully, appease, or rage, etc., may be “effective” at the moment, but, in the long run, it is like acid eating away at the very core of your relationships and our culture.” ~Lisa Merlo-Booth
Everyone has their “edge”—that knee-jerk move they do when they are at their worst; it is the survival move you learned when you were a child. Children know what they live, and they live what they know. As a child, you watched the adults in your life interact every day. You saw how they fought or didn’t fight, how they handled feedback or defended against it, and how they acted when they were angry or upset. Every day you took in the spoken and unspoken “rules of the road” regarding behavior in your family and learned how to manage relationships by watching how they managed theirs. What you watched play out every day, you learned to copy and take on.
The thing about your edge is that it can be very effective, at the moment:
- Raging shuts people down and stops an argument in its tracks.
- Acting out passive-aggressively avoids a direct confrontation.
- Silencing avoids a more significant blow-up and can keep you “safe” from a rager.
- Acting defensively every time someone attempts to hold you accountable for your behavior eventually gets people to stop trying to talk to you about their upsets.
You make that knee-jerk move you do because it works—in the short run. No edge, however, works in the long run. Edges harm relationships, block intimacy, break down trust and wear down healthy connections. Many people are unaware of what they do because it’s such an automatic move that they’ve never given it any thought. Knowing your edge is pivotal to changing it. Do you rage or silence or placate in times of conflict? Maybe you become passive-aggressive or relentlessly defensive? Are you controlling, or do you micro-managing everyone around you?
How you live your life and show up in your relationships is 100% your responsibility. It’s your job to work on your “edge”—to dull the sharpness, round the edges, and become a safe, reliable, relational spouse, parent, friend, boss, employee…human being.
Challenge: Take the time to slow down and become aware of your edge, how it shows up, and what triggers you to act out this edge. Next, do the work you need to do to manage your edge, so your edge doesn’t end up driving your life.