Everyone has struggles. It is at what level you are meeting that struggle that is going to make a difference. You cannot meet a conflict or challenge with the same level of thinking in which it was created. At some point it is beneficial to take a step back, get quiet, and evaluate your behavior or your hand in the situation. An escalated response will create momentum that will continue to push back at you when you do.
In that pause that one should take, are infinite options that can be chosen, and even created as our minds are limitless. We are all equip with that we will ever need to be able to come to peace, as it is just in our nature. However success often means abandoning the norm. If the “norm” is no longer working, then it is time for a new approach, one of evolution and sophistication, and it can all be done just by changing the way that we think. Changing this first will automatically elevate the level in which we communicate.
In all of my study of conflict resolution, mediation, and psychology, as well as my personal experiences with conflict, I have personally observed that how one presents in a conflict can lead to so many clues about how they show up in other areas of their life. Either they show up the exact same way, or they over compensate somewhere else. For instance, I have never met a victim in conflict that wasn’t a victim in say their finances. Having no money was ever their fault. It was always the banks, the Government, their ex, but never theirs. However, if they were the aggressor in the conflict, they often were aggressive with money too, or aggressive in personal relationships and business in an unbecoming way and were found to be from backgrounds where they were not valued.
In direct opposition, I have witnessed those that shirk their responsibility within the conflict be those that do so elsewhere in life. They run from uncomfortable things, or sweep bad feelings under the rug. Then there are those that are able to at least attempt to see where they played into the conflict with their own actions or words. Those people are usually also willing to accept responsibility in other areas of their life as well. To me, this cemented in my mind that how one deals with conflict has a world to say about how they deal with life in general. I also have realized that all of those that had trouble with conflict actually have trouble with unconditional love. Because all resolution that is peaceful is done through love. It is the vital ingredient to not just fix, but to heal the conflict. It is the soothing balm to the chapped skin. And if one cannot apply love to the conflict, then they should wait until they can.
I think as a species we reserve love for those that we feel “deserve” it. We have it backwards, you love others and then you get the utopia life that you want. Loving them simply means that you acknowledge their soul. That they are here at this time to do something too, and that it is their journey as to when and how that they do it. It does not mean that you actually have to like them, agree with them, or try to get them to be like you. Sometimes, and I talk about this a lot, you have to leave some people alone. That is also part of loving them, loving them enough to allow them to be. How many times has conflict resulted from the lack of all of the above?
In order to take a different approach to conflict, we must “break the chains of conformity”. Before we can live the life of our dreams, we must do something different, and it takes focus to do that – at least at first – which is why in this modern time conflict resolution can be such a challenge. In a time when others are doing bent on staying in a cycle that doesn’t work, allowing the resentment to gro. And it doesn’t help that we are inundated with shows that highlight family breakdowns and capitalize on yelling, insulting, and breaking one another completely down. Alas, there is great change on the horizon, a change that is beneficial and loving for all of us.
This week I was witness to an entire family picnic in a beautiful public park breaking up over a very heated argument that had everyone involved. Children stopped playing; others ran for their cars while others started to pack up what looked like a very lovely time, until finally the one being shouted at finally walked away in the direction of the highway. At that point, it got quiet and they all stood in groups watching him walk away. Maybe some of them were wishing that they all could take back that one last thing they felt they had to say in the heat of the moment.
A woman who was walking her dog by me when the ruckus broke out asked me to call the police, but I didn’t. What I saw was a group of people all clamoring for a chance to be heard. I saw one man do his best to explain himself to what must have felt to him like a lynch mob until he couldn’t handle it anymore. Smart enough to not touch anyone, or throw anything, or use a weapon, he walked away. Maybe he walked away because he knew that he had been wrong. Either way, he did the right thing. But after he had gotten some distance away, I saw three older men get into a car to go after him. Within 20 minutes, I saw all three of those men walking with him, talking it out. No matter who did or said what, or what the actual catalyst was that precipitated the event, change has occurred because now the dynamic is different. Eventually the new falls into place and if we are learning from the conflict, and building upon it when we acquire new communication skills through growth, we will take a different more healthful approach next time. However, it doesn’t mean that events such what I witnessed won’t ever happen; it just means that we attempt to learn as much as we can to make sure that they are not common place.
Changing the face of conflict takes becoming resilient to change, you actually have to get used to it. Simply because conflict is an indication that one or more parties are no longer comfortable with the status quo, and whether or not all parties come together, or go their separate ways, there will be a change. The other thing to become used to is not forcing change. This is especially true if you are the facilitator. It does not mean however, that the process should be allowed to go slow enough to stall. One may come off as chaotic when they healthfully stand their ground, but positive and healthy change practices are a fundamental resource to have in your life’s tool box. Change is constant, especially within family dynamics. People are born, people die. Others grow and change too much for the current dynamic. These are real things that have to be met and understood. If everyone does their part to rise up to the struggle and think of it instead as a new opportunity to grow and expand, it no longer looks scary. These are the opportunities that will eventually have us all striving to meet change with open arms and our eagerness to develop new skills.