When Sparks Fly

Some of us recoil from arguments, while others jump in with relish. Either way, employing insight and care means all involved can be victorious.

Illustrations by Asia Pietrzyk

Disagreements are a part of life. In fact, that’s a real understatement. Can you think of a day that didn’t include some conflict or argument, big or small? Can you think of a person you’ve known for more than a few years with whom you haven’t disagreed? I want to explore mindful arguing here, but not how to never have another argument or disagreement. That would be, frankly, impossible. There are myriad terms to describe arguments and the intense emotions they may inspire: bickering, feuding, fighting like cats and dogs, fur or sparks flying, going mano a mano, settling a score, hammering away at someone, dueling, being on a collision course, wrangling, and slugging it out are a few colorful expressions. It doesn’t appear that any of these are particularly about mindful arguing, but they are certainly descriptive of argumentative interactions. Most of these terms describe emotional arguments that erupt unexpectedly. Planned arguments are generally less fraught with emotion, although they, too, can become very heated and intense.

Here, we’ll look at both forms of conflict, the planned and the spontaneous, and how mindful awareness and practices can influence both.

illustration of cats and dogs fighting