5 Reasons To Argue
The majority of people would agree that they don’t like to fight. No matter if it’s with your partner, your boss, or your best friend, many people, around 62 percent, avoid confrontation and arguments on a daily basis, even when things are bothering them. While this may seem like a good thing, it’s actually hurting their health.
You read that right. Not all arguing is bad for your health. That’s why Dr. Nandi wants you to stop keeping things in, learn why arguing is good for you, and become your own Health Hero.
You have probably been told all your life not to engage in arguing. But, according to James Nulty of Florida State University, “thoughts and behaviors presumed to be associated with better well-being lead to worse well-being among some people — usually the people who need the most help achieving well-being.” So, even though you might think you’re doing the right thing for your health and blood pressure by not arguing, you actually have the potential to make yourself worse. (1)
Here are five reasons to consider starting an argument when something is bothering you.
You may think that fighting would make you look on the downside of things, but that’s not the case. When people engage in arguments instead of biting their tongue, they gain a sense of control and are more optimistic. In fact, according to Wesley Moons and Diane Mackie, from the University of California at Santa Barbara, arguing actually helps you to make better decisions. Being angry and expressing that anger by arguing leads to feeling happier and creating a better future for yourself–and your health. (2)
It Lowers Cortisol Levels
People who avoid confrontation have significantly higher levels of cortisol, aka the stress hormone, and it lingers longer in their system than those who aren’t afraid of a verbal battle. These people have more difficulty staying calm, are more prone to aging, and are even at a higher risk for certain types of cancers.
Paula Pietromonaco, of the University of Massachusetts, did a study of 25 newly-married couples, funded by the National Cancer Institute. It found that couples who avoided arguing most (generally those where the wife had an anxious attachment style, and the husband had an avoiding one) had many of those cortisol-related problems mentioned above. What’s more, they also had an increased risk of developing anxiety and depression. (1)
It Stops Resentments
When you refuse to talk about what another person has done that’s bothered you, resentments are likely to form as well as a host of other negative emotions. You start to feel anger and frustration, neither of which are good for your health.
“If the partner can do something to resolve a problem that is likely to otherwise continue and negatively affect the relationship, people may experience long-term benefits by temporarily withholding forgiveness and expressing anger,” says James McNulty “People need to be flexible in how they address the problems that will inevitably arise over the course of their relationships.” (1)
In fact, arguing can save your relationship. Clinical psychologist Deborah Grody says that “relationships that can’t be saved are relationships where the flame has completely gone out, or it wasn’t there in the first place.” If you care enough to argue, that can signify that you care enough to fight for your relationship. Grody says that, in her experience, it is the couples who never engage in arguing that are most likely to get divorced. (3)
It Lessens Aches and Pains
When there is unresolved tension between you and another person, it can show up as aches and pains in your physical body. Following a situation where you may not have expressed your anger but chose to “stuff it”, you’re more likely to experience physical symptoms, such as nausea and aches and pains, than if you’d just dealt with the problem and moved on.
It Lengthens Your Lifespan
Yes, arguing can make you live longer. Married couples who avoided arguments with one another died earlier than those who dealt with disagreements in real time and engaged in fair fights.
In a study conducted by Ernest Harburg, professor emeritus with the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Psychology Department, he looked at 192 married couples, whose ages ranged from 35 to 69. He then sorted the couples into groups based on whether they argued or expressed their anger. During the 17 years of the study, 25% of the couples who suppressed their anger, and didn’t do much arguing, died; only 12% of the couples who felt more comfortable arguing did. Harburg expects that when they check in at the 30 year mark, he expects those death rates to have doubled. (4)
While you may feel uncomfortable being confrontational at first, you need to do so, if only to improve your health. Stress is one of the nation’s worst health epidemics and keeping things bottled up only increases it; doing what you can to lower stress makes you a Health Hero.
How to argue your way to good health
- While arguing is good for you, it’s important to fight fair and not disrespect the person or their opinions or say hurtful things.
- Practice makes perfect. Understand and learn with every disagreement. You will learn the right way to effectively argue with your partner or spouse. Communicating your feelings improves both the relationship and conflict resolution in the future.
- Part of engaging in a successful argument involves listening to what the other person has to say; remember it’s an argument, not a blame game.
- Don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry, apologies go a long way in an argument and being sorry doesn’t always mean you’re wrong.
- Remember that part of the reason you’re arguing is to improve your relationship in the long run; you and your partner may disagree on this issue, but you are still on the same team. (3)
- Scheduling time for your arguing can also be a great strategy. This allows both partners time to calm down and prepare what they are going to say–which lowers the risk of heat-of-the-moment actions and reactions. (3)
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