Everyone argues from time to time, whether it is with friends, family, or neighbors. While these arguments can be stressful, few people think about the health risks that may be involved if they continue to engage in these arguments. A new study has found that arguing with others frequently may increase the risk of early death.
The study was conducted by a research team from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. In the past, similar studies have indicated that good social relationships with others can have a positive effect on a patient’s health and well-being. In this study, Dr. Rikke Lund and his team hoped to expand on this previous research and determine whether or not stressful social relationships could call early mortality.
Published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, the study analyzed 9,875 women and men between the ages of 36 and 52. These individuals had participated in the Danish Longitudinal Study on Work, Unemployment and Health. They were questioned on their everyday social relationships, focusing particularly on those relationships that caused worry or conflict. They then tracked the health of the participants from 2000 to 2011 using the Danish Cause of Death Registry.
When the study reached its end, 226 of the men and 196 of the women had died. While about half of those deaths were from cancer, the remaining deaths were from illness such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease, suicide, and accidents. Of the participants, 10 percent reported that their children or partners often required excessive demands or were the frequent cause of worry. Another six percent said their more extended family caused worry or made excessive demands while another two percent said this about their friends.
The researchers estimated that that a participant’s risk of death increased by 50 to 100 percent when children or partners caused frequent worry or made excessive demands. When the researchers then studied how arguing frequently impacted the participant’s mortality, they found that when participants argued frequently with anyone in their social circle their risk of death doubled or tripled. They were surprised to find these effects were so strong.
The researchers believe that this may be due to the fact that those who have conflict-filled family relationships may have a lower tendency to seek medical treatment, which increases their risk of mortality. They also noted that increased levels of stress are associated with risk factors such as high blood pressure, increased cortisol, higher inflammation levels and risk of angina.
Being wrong is simply intolerable for so many of us. It seems we’d rather disappear from the earth than admit that we made a mistake or a moral error. Forget that. We’ll defend our righteousness until the end!
Interestingly, being wrong is one of the more common experiences that anyone can have. We constantly make errors in judgment, miscalculations, oversights, mistakes and often betray what we know deep down is the right thing to do. There isn’t a perfect person on this planet. Therefore, defending ourselves is a massive set up for interpersonal conflict. Others can often see clearly when you are in the wrong. And they – in one way or another – want to hold you accountable.
And you know the rest of the story.
Not many people in the psychology and personal development are discussing insistence, but it plays a major role in stressful relationships. Emotional insistence happens when you want to change the impossible – or what you have no control over. It manifests in imperatives:
You’re my wife! You should understand.
You’re my husband. You have to agree with me.
You’re my kid. You have to become a doctor.
He’s my brother, so he should be my friend. We must get along.
And so on. We insist that things be a certain way when, in reality, there are never likely to become so. The insistence on the impossible (or extremely unlikely) leads to conflict, grudges, stress and despair.
In an instant of blame, you make all your problems someone else’s fault. So, even if you’re life is a wreck, at least you maintain your innocence.
Of course, your problems remain forever out of your control when you believe they originate outside of you. And, as you well know, other people don’t take kindly to being blamed. They usually just blame right back and now you’ve got another argument on your hands.
All three of these reasons share a common thread. Each of the above patterns invites rejection into your life. When you chronically blame, insist on the impossible and delude yourself with your own righteousness, you set yourself up to be chronically rejected.
When that rejection comes; when people don’t take kindly to you, it often fuels further blame, insistence and self-righteousness. And the cycle breeds conflict and tension in relationships continues. This is self-sabotage. According to the study, it will take years off your life.
If you see yourself somewhere in the article, it is crucial that you put a stop to this cycle of self-sabotage and invite some peace into your life. To learn how self-sabotage works against you and how to stop it, watch this enlightening free video.
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Last reviewed: 29 May 2014