Why is it so Important to “Give it Back”

We all have experienced the sheer triumph of ‘giving it back’ to someone whenever in any kind of argument. A sense of satisfaction that comes after that is unparallel. It feels like we have won the war or conquered the world. But what happens when sometimes, someone else gives it back to us or has the last word. We feel the jolt of failure. We feel as if we have just lost a chance to Olympics and we get engulfed into deep frustration – Oh!! I missed the chance. “Oh! I could have said that…or wait….I could have pulled out that incident from the past.” We attach too much importance to winning an argument. We let it decide our self-worth, our day or our relationship with that person.

Whether we are in an argument or in a conversation, displaying our knowledge and experience becomes a crucial part of it. We want to impress the audience with our wit, knowledge, and talking skills. We all fall prey to this fallacy of human nature that in the end, we should look great or in the end, we should win.

Until you had the “Last Word”

‘Giving it back’ in any argument is strongly connected to a person’s desire to have the ‘Last Word’. When it comes to human behavior, the tendency to win an argument or to have the ‘Last Word’ spans across the human race, occupation, education, and culture. The thrill and buoyancy you feel when you have had the ‘Last Word’ in an argument is so exhilarating, it gives you the effect of being high on drugs. In our pursuit to have this last word, we keep arguing and this urge to have a ‘Last Word’ is so powerful, it keeps pulling us into the argument.  

Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough – Karl Marx

Or You will be Termed Weak

We live in a world where a silent person is considered weak or less knowledgeable. If speaking in public or in social situations is not your forte, chances are that you will be labelled feeble or dumb. This world gives you very less scope to be yourself. Even if you are at home, you are under pressure to speak and prove yourself. This myth has been ingrained in our minds that if we do not speak up, we will be trampled over by others and that we will never succeed. So, it all boils down to whether you want to be seen as strong and knowledgeable or weak and less-informed.

The Science behind having the “Last Word”

When you are fighting or are deeply immersed in an argument, your brain changes its position from normal to defending. Your voice is raised, your heart beats faster, and your pupils dilate. Your brain stops processing the rational feelings like compassion, trust, and planning and starts displaying fear, distrust, and attack. During this time, the brain releases stress hormone, cortisol which helps in stabilizing your blood pressure and blood sugar.

Fill your brain with giant dreams so it has no space for petty pursuits – Robin S Sharma

When you win an argument, your brain releases adrenalin and dopamine. These hormones make you feel good, on top of the world, or superior. And once you get addicted to this feeling, you want to fight or argue again and again and win every time. But what happens when you are not winning. You either keep fighting till you have the energy or you try to diffuse the argument. If you are a bit saner, you will make peace with the other person and will get out of the situation.    

How to protect yourself from this “Myth of Winning”

So, you ‘Gave it back’ to someone or had the ‘Last Word’. The adrenalin and dopamine have set in and you feel unconquerable. But for how long this feeling will last? How long before you will again have the urge to prove yourself right or win an argument. Within an hour or so, you will be ready to fight again and to win again because this vicious cycle never ends. Here are some easy ways that can help you avoid or come out of this addiction:

  • Identify your triggers and stay away – Check and identify what triggers an argument from you. Is it someone’s post on Social Media or a group in your office or locality? Stay away. As inviting and thought-provoking it may seem to join this group of people exchanging views and opinions, refrain from joining the conversation.
  • Refrain from reacting or commenting – We react to someone’s comment or message when we think we have a suitable answer for it. The other person then responds to our answer thinking the same and the cycle starts.
I have no desire to argue with anyone. I choose to walk away just because I want peace.
  • How Important is winning this battle for you – Before entering into any such discussion and spending your time in any such battle, ask yourself these three questions –
    • If I win this argument, who will praise me? Will I get a memento or a trophy from anyone or authority?
    • Does winning an argument with this person comes in top 10 priorities of my life today?
    • Will I be a better and proud person after winning this argument?

There is no such thing as “Having the Last Word”

As exciting and life-changing it may seem, you will be surprised to know that there is no such thing as having the ‘Last word’. There will always be more words or incidents following your ‘Last Word’. It’s a vicious cycle that feeds on your ego and anger and will never let you remain in peace. The only way you can be a winner in this situation is – Come out of the argument and let the other person have the ‘Last Word’.

I am practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word – Dallas Willard

In the beginning, you will feel defeated and weak after coming out of any argument without giving it back or having your last word. But slowly you will experience calm and peace which will have a long-lasting effect on you. Gradually you will realize the difference between momentarily, ego-induced superiority complex and long-lasting, peaceful and calm heart, mind, and soul.


A Quote to End With…

Silence is true wisdom’s best reply – Euripides

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