Most of my life I've been a conflict-avoider, sweeping potential disagreements under the proverbial rug. But these days I seem to face contentions head-on, boxing gloves poised and ready. This is good, for the most part--running from conflict rarely solves anything. However, now that I'm not afraid to take on the hard conversations and can bring up the minors before they become majors, I realize I could use some fighting skills. It seems I'm doing it all wrong -- taking things personally, bringing up past issues that have nothing to do with the present, throwing in hurtful digs, albeit slight and 'hidden' (but not really). I shut down after I speak my peace and am closed-minded and judgmental when the other person expresses their side of things, wounding my dissentient and getting my own feelings hurt in the process.
So I write this article for me. And for any of you who struggle when it comes to conflict resolve.
We've developed bad habits
Of course, we don't make fighting a goal. In a perfect world, we'd tune into our emotions well before conflict arises and use these wise old friends to guide us as we manage our behavior, thwarting tensions before they erupt into battles. But then again, we're human, imperfect and immature and insensitive at times, so it's highly likely disagreements will evolve into fights. Most of us have picked up some poor habits, as early as childhood, and haven't learned there is a better way.
But before we look into acquiring some new fighting skills, let's determine first if your conflict management needs some work. Here are some things you don't want to choose to do when troubles arise:
Fail to listen to the other person's point of view with an open mind
Instead of seeking to find common ground, fight for your own way or ideas
Do most of the talking in disagreements
Feel extremely uncomfortable when conflict arises
Don't use tact when voicing your concerns, rather, you demean the other person and/or their ideas and/or use crass language to prove your point
Say things like "always", "never", and "everyone thinks this way..." (as if you know how everyone else in the world thinks or does things)
Bring up the past to prove your point of "Here we go again..."
Use put downs and demeaning words, saying things you know you'll regret later
View the other person as an adversary or foe because they don't agree with you
Think things like, "If only they would change, this could be resolved."
Quit and run away before the conflict is resolved
Use dishonesty to put an end to the conflict rather than being authentic with your feelings
View yourself as more superior, smarter, or 'a better person' because of how the other person is feeling/acting
Which of these best describes your boxing tactics?
It starts with Self-Awareness
Whether you choose one or all of the above when conflict hits, learning a new way of fighting can take some work. As with any behavior, we can make shifts in a new direction, but it's not always easy. But devoting effort to the development of conflict resolve skills will serve us well when the next battle comes along.
“Bravery is the choice to show up and listen to another person, be it a loved one or perceived foe, even when it is uncomfortable, painful, or the last thing you want to do.” ― Alaric Hutchinson
So where do we bad fighters start?
First of all, as with most things -- becoming self-aware is a good initial step. Take note of the poor habits you use when fighting, write them down, and take a hard look at them. Do they serve you well or do they usually escalate the conflict, or cause further avoidance? How do you feel when you act that way? How does it make the other person feel when you act that way? Most likely the things you're writing are not the most positive. It's OK. Recognizing the need to change often comes from acknowledging the hurt we are causing ourselves and others.
Managing our behavior
Now that you're ready to make some shifts, simply acknowledging bad behaviors is not enough. And just erasing them won't help either. As with the breaking of any old habit, it's beneficial to have a new toolkit at your disposal full of actions to replace ineffective behaviors. Here are a few to try:
Separate the person from the problem. Don't let yourself go down the path of "this person is bad, wrong, selfish, etc." because they have a differing opinion. Fight the desire to label them and instead, focus on the disagreement at hand.
Lay down preconceived ideas. It's easy to think you already have everything figured out before the conflict even begins. Be present and ask clarifying questions where needed so you're sure you understand their viewpoint, not your interpretation of their viewpoint.
Take a deep breath and slow down. An overload of feelings can cause an amygdala hijack. The amygdala is the part of the brain that processes our emotions. Because the emotional processing in our brain happens much more quickly than the rational side, if the amygdala perceives the situation is at a "fight or flight" level of danger, it will trigger a response that shuts down the rational side of our brains, causing us to say and do things we'll regret later. Trust me, this is something to avoid.
Listen to understand. Stop thinking about what you're going to say next and tune in to what they're saying, and not saying. Watch for body language (are they agitated, are they scared, etc.) and attempt to hear what they need/want in this situation, not just what is coming out of their mouth.
Before speaking, ask yourself, "Will this help or hurt the situation?" Sounds simple, but it's very effective! Choose your words carefully and be sure not to throw out insults or put-downs in the heat of the moment.
Remind yourself that their way may be a better way. Be curious. Have an open mind and think of the conversation as a way to brainstorm creative new ideas rather than taking offense because they don't agree with you.
“When we aren't curious in conversations we judge, tell, blame and even shame, often without even knowing it, which leads to conflict." -- Kristen Siggins
Don't attach judgments about their character because of their opinions. Again, separate out the issue from the person and fight the urge to jump to conclusions about their moral integrity just because you don't like what they're saying.
Be aware that the other person is experiencing his/her own set of emotions. There may be drivers going on that you're not aware of -- past hurts, disappointments, or struggles that the other person is dealing with. Offer some grace, in the moment, as you seek to understand the why behindhumi their actions or words.
Find a way to say something valuing about the other person. Even if you don't agree with them, making the other person feel valued for who they are, in the heat of an argument, can do wonders to diffusing anger and frustration levels. A great sentence starter is, "You know what I like about you?" then fill in the rest with a sincere, kind word.
"A soft answer turns away wrath." -- ancient proverb
Remember that the goal here is coming to a solution that works for both parties, not getting your own way. This may mean you have to reach a compromise where both of you give up a little to arrive at a peaceful outcome.
I know, easier said than done. If this list seems daunting, pick just one goal and focus on it for the next few weeks. Talk to a coach or counselor about the areas you struggle most with and seek an outside opinion on how you could begin to make some shifts. Then get out there and practice.
For those of you (us) who have done it all wrong, going back to that person and offering a sincere, "I'm sorry" can do wonders to soften pain of the blows you delivered. It takes humility and courage to admit our errors and ask forgiveness of the other person. They may reject you, scoff at you, or even attempt to continue the fight -- but these three magical words can do as much for your own angry heart as it can the other person.
Unless you live on an uninhabited, deserted island, where you have no contact with others, there will be conflicts on the road ahead. Coming prepared with healthy, helpful tactics will enable both of you to stay standing at the end of each round. Even better, as you work on your own conflict management skills, you may come to realize that it was never a fight at all, but a passionate interaction between two unique and worthy individuals, on the same team, working toward the same goal, each offering the gift of learning something new.
"We meet aliens every day who have something to give us. They come in the form of people with different opinions." -- William Shatner
This article was written by Amy Sargent.
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
Principle 1: Master the courage to question reality.
No plan survives its collision with reality, and reality has a habit of shifting, at work and at home. Markets and economies change, requiring shifts in strategy. People change and forget to tell each other – colleagues, customers, spouses, friends. We are all changing all the time.
Not only do we neglect to share this with others, we are skilled at masking it even to ourselves.
Principle 2: Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real.
While many fear “real”, it is the unreal conversations that should scare us to death. Unreal conversations are expensive, for the individual and the organization. No one has to change, but everyone has to have the conversation. When the conversation is real, the change occurs before the conversation is over. You will accomplish your goals in large part by making every conversation you have as real as possible.
Principle 3: Be here, prepared to be nowhere else.
Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can. Speak and listen as if this is the most important conversation you will ever have with this person. It could be. Participate as if it matters. It does.
Principle 4: Tackle your toughest challenge today.
Burnout doesn’t occur because we’re solving problems, it occurs because we’ve been trying to solve the same problem over and over. The problem named is the problem solved. Identify and then confront the real obstacles in your path. Stay current with the people important to your success and happiness. Travel light, agenda-free.
Principle 5: Obey your instincts.
Don’t just trust your instincts – obey them. Your radar screen works perfectly. It’s the operator who is in question. An intelligence agent is sending you messages every day, all day.
Tune in. Pay attention. Share these thoughts with others. What we label as illusion is the scent of something real coming close.
Principle 6: Take responsibility for your emotional wake.
For a leader, there is no trivial comment. Something you don’t remember saying may have had a devastating impact on someone who looked to you for guidance and approval. The conversation is not about the relationship; the conversation is the relationship. Learning to deliver the message without the load allows you to speak with clarity, conviction, and compassion.
Principle 7: Let silence do the heavy lifting.
When there is simply a whole lot of talking going on, conversations can be so empty of meaning they crackle. Memorable conversations include breathing space. Slow down the conversation, so that insight can occur in the space between words and you can discover what the conversation really wants and needs to be about.
This article was written by Rev. Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN
Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden.
HGR emerges from hope: The belief that recovery and joy is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future - that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers, and obstacles that confront them.
HGR is person- centered/driven: Self-determination and self-concepts are the foundations for HGR individuals as they define their own life goals and design their unique path(s).
HGR occurs via many pathways: Individuals are unique with distinct needs, strengths, preferences, goals, culture, and backgrounds - including trauma experiences - that affects and can determine the pathway(s) to/in the Process of HGR.
HGR is holistic: HGR encompasses an individual's whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated.
HGR is supported by peers and allies: Mutual support and mutual aid from people, small groups that the person builds. Including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills, as well as social learning, play an invaluable role in HGR and in the outcomes.
HGR is supported through relationship and social networks: An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person's ability to recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.
HGR is culturally-based and influenced: Culture and cultural background in all diverse representations - including values, traditions, faith and beliefs. These are keys in determining a person's journey and unique pathway in HGR.
HGR is supported by addressing traumas: Services and supports should be trauma-informed to foster safety (physical, emotional, mental and spiritually) and trust in the self and others. This helpful to promote choice, empowerment, and collaboration to heal, grow and Recover. '
HGR involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility: Individuals, families, and communities have strengths and resources that serve as a foundation for recovery.
HGR is based on respect: Community, systems, societal acceptance and appreciation for people are crucial in achieving in the process and living a life with Joy.
This article was written by Rev. Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN
Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden
Passion frightens people. We are told to find our passion and pursue it, and simultaneously censured for being too passionate. The world sets out to tame and calm us while telling us to live our passion fully. I unfortunately learned over the years to hide my passion in most situations. Full out laughter might result in someone telling me I was being too loud or that people were looking at me. Crying meant I was just an over-emotional female. Spreading my arms in the night wind inevitably resulted in someone asking me what I was “on” since clearly that kind of passion requires drugs. A lover once told me while I was wrapped in his arms that I was getting carried away, which of course I thought was the point.
And then there is work, where I was told over and over “we can tell you are passionate” in a disapproving tone. This happened everywhere from fund-raising meetings, where one needs a bit of passion, to academic councils where I was bringing new innovative programs for approval. Of course this took place in an academic setting where we ask faculty to share their passion with students, and to fill students with passion for a discipline and lifelong learning.
Over and over again we are instructed to live our passion and then told to tone it down. What if we live our passion and fall completely in love, only to have our hearts broken? What if we find a career we are passionate about and then find after a few years that we have fallen out of love and need a new direction? What if we are passionate about our family and fight to protect them? Or what if we are passionate about an issue, form a non-profit and change the world? A life of passion is dangerous.
This mixed message has hounded and haunted me. Am I having too much fun, too much in love with being alive, or perhaps just too much in love? Why should I dispassionately discuss my passion? Who is allowed to be passionate? Or maybe the question is who is courageous enough to be passionate.
Clearly people on the TED stage are passionate, as are commencement speakers, singers, performers and some fund-raisers. I have loved my passionate teachers and students, as well as the one time I had a fearlessly passionate lover. When I feel truly alive passion fills me, overflowing and dripping from my heart like thick sweet honey. Finding and feeling passion is not the issue, the challenge is having the courage to live it, sharing my honey like wine with a parched world.
I have spent years learning to moderate my voice in meetings, to sound dispassionate about topics that actually demand passion. I have learned to walk calmly and with strength, never displaying joy in my step. It is only when I am alone or with close friends that I let my love of life show on my face and in my demeanor. Until recently.
Something cut through the boundaries and borders of control that I have built over the years, and much like candy dancing free from the restraints of a piñata, my passion has broken free. I do not know where the courage came from to truly show up. Perhaps Kris Kristofferson was right when he wrote “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” And perhaps finding freedom has made show off my passion. Perhaps it was the tango lessons that helped me shift my calm walk to a tango strut. Maybe I finally realized that my ability to laugh is a gift that positively changes the energy in a room. Or perhaps I just know that my meaning and purpose in life comes from being courageous enough to let my passion flow.
This article was written by Elisa Robyn
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
It is so easy so easily to slip back into the old person you have been. In the past 12 days I have shared 12 principles of Emotional Intelligence ways to identify things in all of us and myself that we can work on. For me I could have easily trudged along on my well-trodden path of negative self-talk, comfortably overanalyzing, and well-worn pessimistic beliefs about myself. I sound almost human. Honestly, for all of us we can return to the old patterns so easily. It becomes a habit, if you will.
We already have the knowledge of how to do it, it is almost automatic, and it is comfortable because we used to use it. To not use those old habits and known self-destructive thoughts and behaviors takes dedicated work. As you do the dedicated work and are intentional about the change your making it becomes easier and you will end up not thinking about the changes and will just use them. The old, destructive habits are still in in you, yet you do not use them or even consider them as appropriate. It is the same as Recovery.
Ignite yourself, reread the past days writing, formulate your change plan and get to work. In those great words from Larry the Cable Guy: “Get Er Done”.
"What do I need?"
Lasting change in our lives will not be created and maintained, when we lack faith and belief in ourselves and our ignited mission. I truly believe that something has ignited inside of you. I bet that there is nothing else, worthy of your attention toward the change you need or want to make in you. So, what is it that need or want? Think honestly—what has really spoken to your heart and mind; what is whispering to you?
Free write these down and remember them as you move into the next phase. Free write means to write down everything that is in your heart and the edit it down.
"How do I get there? "Now that we've been specific, it is time to develop the steps toward success. What are the steps you can take to get to these changes? What acts, done consistently over time, will lead you to your change? Write them down, put them somewhere visible, and do them. There are a few tips to successfully latching on to new habits, if you haven't already found your own ways of doing so. Attach them to a current habit (I will count my blessings while I brush my teeth). Create a daily affirmation list, Create a daily to-do list and smile big when you check it off! Be vulnerable with a friend, boyfriend, Husband or wife, tell them your goals and ask them to help keep you accountable, or listen to a podcast on the skill you are wanting to practice. I recommend “Fit for Joy” to boost your awareness of the skill. Set a concrete time for practicing.
Whatever ends up working for you, don't forget to reflect. Take time to measure your progress, whether it is with a journal, a therapist, a friend, or a spreadsheet. Ready, set, PRACTICE!
Have Fun With Your Health, Growth & Recovery. In other word Yourself.
Center for Healing, Growth & Recovery Ministries
All right reserved, 4/2019
Love is the total giving of oneself without agenda; not asking for anything in return or holding anything back. Compassion, being one of the highest forms of love, is the understanding of lack of understanding in another being, as well as within ourselves. It allows for us to express loving kindness in the face of ignorance.
It has been said that the only problem we only ever have is ignorance. This is true. None of the harmful deeds us humans perform are born out of malice or ill will. They merely arise from a small and limited perspective of the true nature of reality.
Most individuals are trapped in the egoic illusion of lack and separation. The ego’s mantra is: I am not enough, and there is not enough. Caught in that misperception, an individual believes that the only way for them to be and have enough is to try to get it from the world. And so they move through life seeking worth and validation from the outside world. They live under the impression that they have to compete for it and to ultimately (hopefully) win it.
From this perspective, hurting or harming another individual, seems legitimate since life is a competition. Like the survival of the fittest if you will. This is the life in and with the ego.
Choice is a function of awareness
Now as we grow and unfold spiritually. As we mature. As we come into greater and greater insights, we realize that we live in a cosmos where there is only abundance and unity. There is only one Divine Whole. And nothing is ever separated from anything else.
As we realize this, we also begin to realize that when someone is in the grip of the ego, there is no need for blame or guilt. They are merely more or less temporarily unconscious.
From this higher perspective, we realize the futility of placing blame when someone does something we are triggered by. They are merely reacting that way because the lack they the understanding to act in any other way. They have merely gone unconscious, and we happen to be in the vicinity of them at that moment.
Much in the same way we don’t blame a small child for not yet having learned to read, ride a bike or not make a mess when eating. We realize that they are in the process of learning. In that process, they have only learned what they have learned in any given moment.
It is said that choice is a function of awareness. This means that in order to be able to make a choice - we need to be aware that we get to choose. If we are not aware that we have a choice then effectively cannot make that choice.
Compassion is the understanding of lack of understanding.
Compassion then, is the understanding of this. It is the understanding that when an individual reacts as oppose to responds, they do so merely because they are not aware of the options.
They are not aware that there is another way. That they can choose to respond to a situation or circumstance with love rather than fear, worry or doubt. Obviously the same goes for us.
The best response to any situation, any circumstance, any individual is that of love and compassion.
Choose love and compassion over fear, worry, and doubt.
And so, whenever we are faced with the ignorance or unconsciousness of another individual – we may gently remind ourselves that it has nothing to do with us. We need not ever take it personally. At this moment they are merely unconscious. And we just happened to be there to witness and experience it.
We may also remind ourselves that all is working for our good. As we encounter an unconscious individual, we get to practice being loving and compassionate. In other words, it is a great blessing in terms of growth and unfolding.
And so, rather than placing blame and guilt, playing out the victim card as to being the victim of another’s harmful actions - we may choose to pray for and bless them. We may choose to pray for their wellbeing, for their peace of mind. We may call forth the perfect and Divine health that resides within each being. We may choose to take on the perspective that they too are on a journey and that they too, in the process of waking up, of learning - are exactly where they need to be.
This is compassion. This is loving kindness in action. Praying, blessing and wishing someone well - even when what they did or did not do, may seem harmful and hurtful.
The Love of God dwells within each of us, we merely need to become aware of it and choose it.
Daniel Roquéo is a freelance writer and founder of The Love & Light Store.
He helps individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses do what they may not have the time, inspiration or the skills to do for themselves. Bringing their passions to life through the written word.
It is natural and fundamental for living beings to want to be happy, healthy, and free from suffering. Life would not have persisted for nearly four billion years were living things not motivated to, and reasonably good at, seeking favorable circumstances and avoiding unfavorable ones.
When you consider much of what people do in our day-to-day lives, it is mostly in service of meeting our needs for food, clothing, shelter, and a sense of safety, satisfaction, and happiness. We don’t necessarily awaken each morning and say to ourselves how much we hope it’s swamped at the office, or that traffic will be absolutely gridlocked, or maybe we’ll get into a car accident so we can practice with being grateful for the time we have.
Yet we know, despite our deepest desires for how our life will be, that all sorts of things can happen, and many of them range from a little annoying to utterly devastating. Our children can become addicted to the painkillers in our cabinet the dentist prescribed us last year. We can get laid off from our jobs. We can be raped or mugged or murdered or diagnosed with untreatable cancer. We can be vegetarian, alcohol, tobacco and drug-free, run marathons, and still, have a heart attack at age 60. As the old saying goes, people make plans, and God laughs.
When trouble comes, we all get through it one way or another, sometimes more gracefully than others, always hoping to get back and remain in calm seas for smooth sailing. Then something else comes along: the flu, a torn meniscus, a child who develops asthma or depression. It will never remain smooth sailing for long; that’s just not how life works. And yet, somehow, we keep hoping that life will be something other than what it is.
It sounds crazy. Maybe it is. It seems human aspirations are doomed to be awkwardly incompatible with the vicissitudes of life. Indeed, in most if not all of us, there is an undercurrent of dis-ease, a fear about what is to come, that the moment of something terrible happening might be in our future, and not just someone else's whom we read about in the news. So, what to do?
About twenty-five centuries ago, a man named Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, left home in search of a resolution to human suffering. After many years of searching, of trying many different things, and close to death and despair from neglecting his physical health and making little progress towards his goal, he had a breakthrough when he simply let go and let the storms in his mind be as they were. He settled more and more deeply into his pure, conscious awareness of all of his sensations, thoughts, and feelings. What he discovered was that human beings suffer when we want life to be different from how it is.
But it's not the desire per se: it's our attachment to it, our belief that our beliefs about how life should be or could be, are more important than how life actually is. This, of course, is foolish. It's not that we have no control over our lives and circumstances, it's that that control is forever limited, and many things will happen that we do not expect, and perhaps do not want.
Yet what he also discovered is that if we can detach from that belief that our wishes are more important than reality, we can begin to find real peace.
The key lies in our conscious awareness. The more we identify with and rest in our awareness, the more we can just be with the truth of how things are in this moment, the more a kind of magic starts to work on us.
We naturally let go of a struggle with life that is deeper and subtler than we ever imagined. We may never want to be sick or hurt or die but are no longer ill-at-ease with the difficult truths of life. It is analogous to someone who is so unfit that they cannot climb a flight of stairs without getting seriously out of breath, who then slowly begins to exercise, a little more with every passing week, until perhaps a year later, they are able to run a marathon. Their body naturally transforms by being more and more active.
So it is with a meditation practice where we simply rest ever more deeply in our awareness of what is. In doing so, we find well-being that is beyond sickness and health, beyond happiness and sorrow, beyond birth and death.
In some sense, finding this power within us changes nothing: we can still dream and plan, take care of our bodies and minds with healthy food, exercise, and rest and relaxation. We still take care of others. In another sense, it changes everything, because it transforms our relationship with every aspect of our lives, and frees us to do all of these things with greater presence, love, and patience.
This article was written by Joshua Sandeman
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
I met my first client of the day at seven in the morning.
Angela was a thirty-five-year-old married woman living in Manhattan. I reached her building thirty minutes early, and waited for her for another ten. When she arrived in the lobby to greet me, I remember wondering why she’d hired me. She was petite, young, and in great shape.
We walked to the gym, which was empty. She turned on the air conditioning and the lights. Our session began and we went through the initial protocol, a dynamic warm-up.
She looked down the entire time. I asked her unimportant questions to break the silence, but her answers were brief, accompanied by a shy smile. I felt my presence was enough for her. Throughout the workout, Angela only spoke a few words, moved in a slow, controlled way, and never looked straight at me. I felt like I was at a funeral and I didn’t know who the dead person was. I felt awkward, trying to cheer her up or at least alleviate the silence. I pretended I was participating in a comfortable and normal situation between two people.
When the workout ended, we planned our weekly schedule and said goodbye to each other under the same gloomy cloud. This was a client whom the best exercise and diet in the world would never help to feel joyful. It was never about fitness for Angela. She was looking for a friend.
I left her building feeling very down. I couldn’t pretend to be her warm friend while also being a trainer. Her sadness was my sadness.
There was no time to be unhappy, though. My next client was James, and he needed me downtown at ten. I crossed the street and entered the subway station.