Have you ever heard of the "Domino Effect?" It's a chain reaction where one event sets off a chain of other events…just like a falling row of dominos. Sometimes the chain reaction creates a positive outcome, but sometimes it results in serious problems. Throughout your life, your behaviors will create a chain reaction that impacts how others respond to you. Although you can't always control what happens, there will be times when you can positively impact your environment and your relationships. Take a look at the example below:

Jeff, 16, tells his friends that his mom is abusive. Last night she chased him into the bathroom and threatened to beat him.

So, what started this chain reaction?

Jeff came home 2 hours late without calling. His mom was worried and upset especially when she realized he had been drinking. They argued; Jeff lost his temper and called his mom some names and swore at her. When he started to walk away while still yelling, she chased him into the bathroom.

Because you know more of the story, you can see that the chain reaction for this particular incident likely started when Jeff came home drunk 2 hours after his curfew. Although his mom threatened to beat him, luckily she didn't follow through with her threat. This situation would have had a very serious outcome if someone had been hurt.

Neither physical nor emotional abuse is a productive way to solve arguments. Feelings are hurt, and relationships damaged when abuse occurs. When tempers flare, it can cause you to have a whole bunch of negative feelings and thoughts. You might feel like you are being bullied, picked on, or abused. You may also be likely to place the fault for what occurred on the other person.

So how can you avoid getting caught up in a similar situation? In order to escape being involved in intense or potentially abusive situations, set aside your emotions for a minute and look realistically at the chain of events that led to a past argument or blow-up. Did your words or actions put the problem in motion? Did you say or do something that kept the situation going?

When you respond and react positively toward others, you are less likely to be a victim of other people's anger and frustration. If you have made a mistake in the past, acknowledge it and apologize if necessary. Finally, learn to avoid confrontations and manage your emotions so you can avoid being part of any negative domino effects in the future.