Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Mortal Combat: A Look at How Feuding Neighbors Are Hurting Each Other

Allowing yourself to remain in a stress-induced threat state is not healthy.

Key points

  • People often feel that they cannot let go of anger. Holding on to it could physiologically and physically harm you.
  • The Holmes-Rahe stress scale is a measure of the severity of your stress. A score of more than 300 is dangerous.
  • How would feuding neighbors' lives change if they replaced their angry signs with one that said, "I love you"?

It seems that the “shortcut” to healing is letting go of anger. This allows you to place your attention on what you want, and your brain, through the process of neuroplasticity, will respond with structural changes. Your brain will develop wherever you place your attention, but it's difficult to move forward unless you can release yourself from the past—especially the distant past over which you have no control.

If you won’t let go (and you do have a choice), you are more likely to become ill, and often with a serious illness or disease. That data is clear. On the Holmes-Rahe scale that lists and scores known sources of stress, if you score greater than 300 points, there is an 80 percent chance that you will experience serious health problems within two years.

We are all “geniuses” at suffering. We have to process it daily and most of us have not been taught the correct skills in processing stress. To become equally skilled at enjoying our lives requires the repetition of specific tools.

“Paradise”

We were back on the East Coast on vacation and enjoying a beautiful spot by the Atlantic Ocean. We were on a large bay and it could not have been more idyllic. Our friends were showing us around the area, and as we drove towards the end of the road, we came upon some smaller houses in what looked like a quiet, inviting community right on the water. Then we came upon these signs.

David Hanscom
Source: David Hanscom

We looked to the right and there was a nice-looking fence that was about 100 feet long. It was a single partition with the only function being to block the neighbor's view. This is all we know. Regardless of the reasons behind the construction of this barrier, from a neuroprogramming and health perspective, this situation is a disaster.

David Hanscom
Source: David Hanscom

“Home”

Home is the place to relax and enjoy your friends and family—as well as your neighbors. If you experience stress every time you drive up your house, your nervous system, and, consequently, your body’s chemistry, is going to be fired up. Your physiology is in a sustained flight or fight mode, and this scenario eventually not only harms your quality of life, but your immune system may attack your own tissues, causing many chronic diseases.

A question: Why do want to keep your attention on someone in your life who you dislike or even despise? You have given that person deep control. It is one of the least logical things we do, giving up our power to live our own lives. These neighbors with a grudge may physiologically destroying each other. Who is going to let go?

Consider an alternative that my friend Bernie Siegal might suggest. Siegel is a surgeon and author of several books, including, Love, Medicine and Miracles.1 He has also documented the stories of many terminal cancer survivors and still runs a group where they share their stories. Love and connection is the common theme. As destructive as hate is, love is an equally powerful healing force.

Bernie’s advice

Many people choose to be right rather than happy. They will argue to the bitter end about the “rightness” of their thoughts and actions. They do not care about what they are doing to the people they are arguing with.

Why do they behave this way? Are they perfect? No, few of us could claim to be that. They are simply unwilling to view their fallibility and confess to the weaknesses that come along with being human.

When you are willing to give up being right, you will find peace and happiness. It is when you are ready to learn that you will be right.

If you wish to be happy and free, give up having to be right all the time.

Peace,
- Bernie

Vlada/AdobeStock
Source: Vlada/AdobeStock

Think what could be possible if one of the neighbors adopted Bernie’s approach. If he or she senses someone who is upset, regardless of their behavior, he or she says, “I love you.” What would that world be like? What about your own life?

References

1. Siegel, Bernie. Love, Medicine, and Miracles. Harper and Rowe, New York, NY, 1986.

advertisement