Years ago, Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer had a major fire that destroyed most of what she owned. She contacted her insurance company and they came the next day to assess the damage.
After reviewing the damage and her substantial loss, the insurance agent said a curious thing to Langer. He said that this was the first call he’d ever had where it turned out the damage was worse than the call had indicated.
Langer’s reflections on his comment are invaluable: She thought, Well, gee, you know, it’s already taken my stuff, whatever that means. Why give it my soul? Why pay twice?
When you keep replaying a conflict, without really doing anything substantive about it, you’re paying twice. When you complain about your nemesis to someone you know will soothe your ego, you’re continuing to dole out payment. With each payment, you give away a few more precious minutes of your life — minutes you can’t get back again.
Maybe you don’t think you can pull off what Langer did. Maybe you don’t think you have the inner strength or the emotional fortitude.
That’s ok. Don’t expect that level of yourself yet, then. Just start paying attention. Teach yourself to notice when you’re paying twice. Noticing comes first, the first step in giving yourself the chance to stop giving a conflict your soul, to stop yourself from allowing the flames to double your loss.