california [ change ]

Fight or Sweat

Fight or flight? That is the question. We say fight or sweat.

In the months before we opened Shape House, there were a lot of decisions that Craig and I had to make together…which made for a lot of arguments. From where to put the couch or which incense smelled better, to how to run the business as a whole, it seemed like there were limitless times when we disagreed, and the tension would creep up on us. In those moments, it usually seemed like we had two options: to run off and wallow in boiling anger alone, or to get into a fight.

Craig and I had tried both options, many times. Neither left us any closer to a solution. In fact, we usually ended up with more problems than we started with, because the silent treatment or harsh words that we’d used heaped resentment and regret on top of the original issue. We both knew that sweating helped us feel better, more peaceful, and happier- we wouldn’t have started the business to begin with if we hadn’t realized that. So we decided to try something. We started sweating it out- literally and figuratively. We would hop in the beds, and sweat our angry heads off, until we weren’t angry anymore. And it worked.

Often, arguments are the results of mental constructs. I think this. You think that. And we think they can’t both be true. So, we become competitive, because if only one of the opinions can be right, we really, really want it to be our own.

Sweating has this magical equalizing effect on us. It helps us release the grip of the ego that wants so desperately to be right. So we may not be able to have the couch be in two different spots at the same time, but we might get more at ease with the idea that the other person’s idea is a good one. We might even realize that we don’t need to care so much, because most of the arguments that we have in day-to-day life don’t really matter when it comes down to it. And even the big stuff isn’t usually worth fighting over, because we usually fight for the wrong reasons.

Sometimes, we get nervous about who we are. We decide that we believe something passionately and deeply, and we think that if that belief is threatened, then our identity will crumble along with it. We forget that when someone else thinks differently than we do, that doesn’t mean that only one of us can be right. Sweating helps us remember.

There’s a reason that ancient sweat lodges were used to bring communities together under high-pressure circumstances. It’s because sweating helps people get rid of the toxic nonsense that makes us irritable, petty, and dissatisfied, and drives us closer to our bones. And that helps us connect, it helps us find what’s important, and it frees us from the need to prove ourselves.

It makes sense, really. When you sweat, you connect with yourself on a deeper level. You tend to spend time thinking about what really matters to you, what you want for yourself and the people you love, and what kind of person you want to be. Usually, “I want to be the person who is right about where the couch should go” doesn’t fall into that picture.

And you know what? The deeper stuff- the stuff that we hold near and dear to our hearts, the beliefs that make us unique- that stuff becomes real again. Real to the point that we know those things are part of us, just like someone else’s beliefs are part of them. Real enough that we don’t feel like they have to be “right” to be true.

So why fight it?