Fear of getting into conflict is one of the best ways to wind up extremely unhappy. Men who are not willing to take a stand usually end up being bullied, browbeaten, and manipulated at every turn. Men who go out of there way to appease and pacify other people end up frustrated, lonely and bitter.
It is important to know what is not negotiable in your life, and to be willing to stand firm about it. You will find that if you are reasonable, polite and assertive, the majority of people will back down when you take a stand on something important to you. One of the books I really enjoyed talking about this is Hold on to Your N.U.T.S. by Nick Levine, a book which I will gift to you when you are old enough to be getting into deep and committed relationships (don’t let me forget!).
Ultimately one of the keys to being a happy man is to be ready to stand up for yourself over the important things, and to not bother much with the rest. This is especially true when it comes to other people around you and what they think and do in their own time. If you want to respect others, the most important thing you can do is remind yourself that they are free to do and to think whatever they like, so long as they aren’t using force, bullying, or manipulation on others, or causing you any harm or hardship.
Ultimately, I hope to teach you good leadership*, and that means making decisions and setting a direction for yourself and others that is built on your beliefs, a sense of integrity, and good character. That means that you will find that you do run into opposing agendas even with the people you care about the most. When those arise, the best thing you can be as a good leader, friend, lover, or spouse, is to be true to your code and honest about your opinions. When someone pushes you to go against Integrity or steps on your boundaries, say “No.” and don’t bother arguing. If they are asking you to abandon important goals, say “No.” and negotiate* if possible. For anything else, why bother arguing? Let them do what they want, even go along if it is in line with your values.
Sun Tzu called this “Choosing your battles,” he meant making sure you fought battles in war on your own terms, where you want to fight them, but it is also true of conflict in life. Avoiding conflicts means never getting what you want, but only having conflicts when it is important to you avoids wasting energy and good feeling.And as a corollary, make sure that the people you bring into your life are ones who understand respect, have good character, and share many of your values. This is especially true when it comes to choosing lovers: they may well be a person you are with for the rest of your life; make sure that they are someone that will honour you, treat your boundaries with respect, and not demand that you compromise your Integrity. Why would you want to surround yourself with people who demand that you change who you are to suit them?
Son, this is something I hope to model with you as a father. To choose my battles carefully – to be mindful that I let you make your own choices and express yourself as you want, while at the same time being a firm father who insists that you be disciplined and develop good habits and a strong character.With love and patience,Dad[P.S., And Yes, there is a Tarot Card for this, too! The Two of Swords.]