How Choosing Your Battles Wisely Affects Your Place in the World

Humanity tries its best to unshackle itself from zealous primitive desires. 

As if stuck in the teenage phase of transitioning on to something more enlightened, we juggle what we know to be right with what feels good. Though you may not want to admit it, doing what feels better often beats doing what is right but which doesn’t feel too good. 

Doing what seems right requires concentrated effort in its execution. Doing what feels good flows with effortless abandon. 

One of the things that often feels too good to pass on is our tendency to be drawn into battles of various kinds. A day in life doesn’t pass by without our vision of it being challenged. Your educated suggestions will be shot down and your good ideas will be labeled bad. You’ll be drawn to argue, and enticed to counterattack. 

This article centers on making good judgments regarding battles you should accept invitations for in life. 

Specifically, it aims to motivate you to not take part in battles which can damage your perceived standing on the social scale. Below, are some reasons why you should pick your battles carefully. 


Competing Against Someone in One Domain Ties You to Being Compared to Them in Other Domains

You’ll recognize others’ various attempts to know where you stand in relation to themselves if you tune your eye acutely. The act of establishing competitors across domains is one of the most common complexities in the social relationships between individuals. Often involuntarily, the competitive feelings you have for someone at work for instance, can travel into the domain of personal finance when they unveil having put a down-payment on a house. 

The danger behind competitive feelings across domains is one in which you alter your decision making habits in important domains due to your battles in trivial ones. 

Example 1:

Rental Property Jiu Jitsu

The person you meet in your Jiu Jitsu class can grow to be a formidable training partner. You’d grow together over the months that you see them in class. They might catch you in a submission one day and you might catch them in one the next. You’ll become friendly competitors in that domain. 

Soon (and naturally), you’ll start talking about life outside of Jiu Jitsu. You’ll let them know about what you do for a living, and about the side hustles you juggle in your spare time. You’ll compare and contrast as both of you become trusting of one another. 

At that point, they may unveil themselves to have recently invested in a rental property downtown. Even though that information would be contextualized in a completely new domain, you’ll notice your competitive feelings travel over. 

You’ll go home and think about what you should do with the money sitting in your bank account. You may even size your own investments up to theirs by searching up the area in which they’ve made their investment. Is the price per square foot higher in their area? When was their building built? Is now a good time to buy or sell? 

Notice these competitive feelings travel across domains when the people in your life open themselves up to you. As you do, you’ll begin to realize that a simple act of meeting a friendly individual in Jiu Jitsu class can shape the decisions that you make in much more important domains.

Example 2:  

Your Involuntary Role as Your Nosy Neighbor’s Standard

Your neighbor’s question along the lines of, “How much did your kitchen renovation roughly set you back?” can alleviate their burning desire to know how their own kitchen compares. 

With that information, they can make adjustments to the renovation plans they make. They can use your act of spending a sizable sum on your own renovation to motivate themselves to compete with your property’s rising value. 

They can thereby repave their driveway in an effort to compete, or be motivated to put in a new A/C unit, clean their ducts, and change their air filters. They’d in turn use a seemingly innocent elicitation of information to first compare themselves to you, then to tweak their course of action in other separate but related areas.

Your neighbor can unveil their desire to compete with your efforts to improve to another friend of theirs. That third party would then consider your neighbor as being in your league of competition.

From there, the points of comparison can travel past a kitchen’s renovation. As your neighbor’s friend visits them from time to time, they’ll notice you to perhaps have upgraded your car that’s parked in your driveway. 

They’ll ask your neighbor, “What does (your name) do for a living? He’s got a brand spanking new car.” 

The competitive feelings your neighbor developed for you will now travel into the domain of personal finance and professions. 


It is therefore wise to find people you’re more skilled than in one domain with them being far more successful in others. Always try aiming up in your cross contextual bouts of competition by offering those more successful in other domains a challenging learning opportunity in the domain you’ve mastered. 


Comparison of Least Resistance: Those You Compete With Are the Simplest Point of Reference

Contentiously going back and forth with a colleague at a workplace meeting can inadvertently lump you with them in terms of your quality of ideas. From the perspectives of those watching on, your act of contending with an equal’s points would label that colleague to be a formidable opponent.  

Remember, there are odds behind the variance of each battle you partake in. The more fights you take part in, the higher the possibility of you performing unsatisfactorily. 

If you were to have a hard time in an argument you deem yourself to normally be able to run circles around, you’ll notice yourself being underestimated the next time

Being tied to your past opponents can work against you when you seek to test yourself against more formidable foes. Should you challenge your manager’s points at the next team meeting, others’ memory of you having a contentious back and forth with someone of lesser standing would work against you. 

Others’ perceptions of your abilities would be tied to that of the person you battled prior. Though you might’ve edged your colleague out in last week’s debate, your ability may be perceived as only slightly better than that of your colleague’s. 

In your attempts to challenge a manager’s point, people may perceive you to be stepping out of line due to your outing the week prior. You’d be battling the reputation you established in your battle against your colleague last week, and may thereby be underestimated in your skillset. 

“He might’ve outsmarted John last week, but he’s asking for it challenging the manager like that.” 

If the exact scenario as described above were to take place, the audience to the disagreement you have with your manager would be more timid in their support for your points. They’d perceive you to be stepping out of line, with their memories fueling that perception. 

Your competitive reputation can thereby be tied to those with a reputation worse than you deserve. In your attempts to improve your competitive reputation, you’ll realize that your past opponents’ reputations can hurt the perception others have of you in today’s battles.


Suck in a Loop of Battling the Unworthy

The act of accepting the challenges of those you should objectively brush off results in others of poor argumentative caliber developing the confidence to pick a fight with you. Though those less skilled than yourself can be interpreted as easy victories in the battles that you take part in day to day, don’t forget about the confidence that those watching from the sides develop. 

By seeing that someone of generally high skill is entertaining the critiques and attacks coming from those traditionally lower on the social scale, others lower on the social scale compared to you will want a piece

You’d thereby quickly find yourself stuck in a loop of battling the unworthy when you form a habit of entertaining worthless battles. For this reason along with many others, the concept of developing a thicker skin suddenly develops an updated meaning. Thicker skin in the face of subtle jabs from those beneath you (in the context of professional domains) will save you from not just one unneeded battle, but many. 

The energy and time you save alone by choosing only to battle those who may be difficult opponents but which would benefit you win or lose, can have a compounded effect on your social standing. It is important to prove yourself amongst those around you. However, don’t forget to not get stuck. Aim up in the challenges you send out and respond to, it’s often a required part of developing your influence. 

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.