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How to Win at Tug-of-War

Power struggles can be exhausting. They happen in many different settings: parents guiding their children, co-workers competing in office politics, even strangers who stumble into “one-upmanship” conversations. While competition can feel invigorating at times, persistent power struggles with those we love can prove exhausting.

Competition results in winners and losers. Power struggles, similarly, tend to result in those who experience exhilaration in their success and those who feel defeated or trampled over in the process. When the parties competing are in a relationship, even the joy of winning is soured by the realization that it came at the expense of ones we love.

In the children’s game, Tug-of-War, two teams, one on each end of the rope, pull with all their strength with the goal of dragging the other team across a line in the dirt or a puddle of mud in the center. Consider what would happen if one team simply dropped the rope? The goal for the interaction would immediately change.

Today, when I feel pulled into an emotional tug-of-war with those I love, I will “drop the rope.” I choose not to win by trampling on the feelings of my loved one’s.

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