Conflict Matters

Successful relationships handle conflict well. Currently, our political arena is giving us a front-row seat into the tension-packed experience of conflict. Everyone has an opinion on how things should be handled. No one is removed from the process, even if they’d like to be. What is easy to notice is the inability of most people to see someone else’s perspective. The old saying “try to walk a mile in their shoes” seems to be thrown completely out the window in the political realm as battle lines are drawn and “enemies” are identified. We hurt, insult, create labels, hate and sever relationships. Is there a better way to handle conflict? Marshall Rosenburg says “The objective of Nonviolent Communication is to establish a relationship based on honesty and empathy. When others trust that our primary commitment is to the quality of the relationship and that we expect this process to fulfill everyone’s needs, then they can trust that our requests are true requests and not camouflaged demands.

While it is not my intention to dive into the craziness of politics, the way many people handle conflict within political discussion does help us realize how we can better handle conflict within our personal lives. How we handle conflict is a key indicator of success and compatibility which is definitely important in our relationships with others in our lives. Imagine if for a moment you improved your conflict resolution skills how would your relationships grow and improve?

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music” – John Milton

It is okay to feel anger and to process anger. When we are speaking the truth/Satya to someone if we are doing it in a non-harming/ahimsa manner, truth and anger cannot belong in the same sentence.  This is why we apply self-empathy, take a breath and then chose how to respond. We have communication choices. Focus on self-empathy, start with your “Self” become aware of your feelings and needs first to gain clarity. Words matter it makes up our emotional DNA that helps develop our thinking and thought patterns. It is when you can sit down next to the person and discuss a conflict that you are ready to communicate when you want to be across the table listen more than you speak.

 

Yoga Sutra 1.30Vyadhi Styana Samsaya Pramada Alasya Avirati Bhrantidarsana Alabdhabhumikatva Anavasthitatvani Cittaviksepah Te Antarayah” From that comes Realization of the individual self and the obstacles are removed. This is often translated as a disease; mental inaction; doubt; carelessness; laziness; inability to withdraw, compose and rest; hallucination; inability to reach, grasp or comprehend the goal; and inability to remain grounded are the obstacles these are distractions to the mind. We are all overscheduled, overworked, thinking about too much. However, this is all by our own choice and under these obstacles, it gets worse. By examining opposites, beliefs, and self-inquiry is an excellent starting point.

 

For me Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally said it best “How we view the world- our worldview- is, in the end, the only thing that decides whether we suffer or find real happiness. It’s extremely important to realize that an entire civilization can be caught up for many years in a mistaken view of the world. For thousands of years, sensible people believed that the world was flat. The courageous, democracy-minded founders of the United States kept human beings as slaves and believed that they were animals, not people. Our culture today has its own massively mistaken ideas of the world, and these cause all hunger, poverty, sickness, and war in the world. If our people’s view of the world is causing pain to others and ourselves, then we must look for a better one, one that works. If it doesn’t work, we cannot simply continue to follow whatever we learned as children, whether it came from parents or schools, churches or governments. True yoga is the search for the worldview that actively works to bring people happiness.

We need to integrate our experiences and have the courage to be ourselves and to allow this individuality even if it scares us because belonging matters. “The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear whole or acceptable, but our wholeness even our wholeheartedness actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the fails.” – Brene Brown During conflict we need to listen there is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. Listening is much more important than talking and yet it is much easier to talk rather than listen. We want to be heard and more importantly, we want to be right. When in the midst of conflict we are thinking about our response more than we are actually listening to what the other person is saying and this is not our best way to start a conflict resolution.  The first step is to listen for identify the root of the problem (content, pattern or relationship rooted)

 

Here are some questions to ponder:

  1. How was conflict handled in the home in which you grew up?
  2. When you were growing up, what were sources of conflict between you and your family of origin?
  3. In what areas of your life do you tend to value your own perspective over the members of your immediate support system?
  4. Often times, the way our parents handled conflict growing up carries over and impacts the way we handle conflict as adults. Is this true in your life and in what ways?
  5. What areas do you need to be more mindful of your own responses where conflict resolution is concerned?

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Home Run Life – 2nd Base!

“I love mankind, it is people I can’t stand.” Linus, Peanuts

 

Have you ever heard the tongue and check statements like “People Suck!,” “Life would be better with fewer people,” “I’d love my job if it weren’t for people,” I want to go somewhere that doesn’t have people.” Yet if you do a google search what turns up:

  • “Winning Others Over,”
  • “How to win managing people,”
  • “How to make connections with others,”
  • 25 ways to this, 6 ways to that, top 10 lists,
  • Tweets, blogs, books, workshops

and so on there are infinite enter i.e. show that all have one thing in common “PEOPLE!”

 

What are some of your best moments? For me it was doing:

  • 4-H, walking again,
  • graduating with my bachelors,
  • having my niece and nephew born,
  • my wedding,
  • opening my business,
  • finding my passion and purpose in life,
  • running again and doing multiple half-marathons without chronic pain,
  • interning at John Hopkins Hospital,
  • graduating from grad school,
  • and all of the memories I create with family and friends.

What have you gone through that carries disappointment or sorrow? For me it was:

  • being in a hospital bed for a year,
  • being sexually assaulted at a party,
  • having an eating disorder,
  • being physically and emotionally abused by a loved one,
  • losing my first job,
  • struggles in my marriage,
  • the death of grandparents and friends,
  • and watching my parents deteriorate before my eyes,
  • betrayal,
  • employees that abandon clients and the philosophy I live by.

What is one thing all of these items have in common? PEOPLE! Life’s worst of times and best of times, however, life involves people and the beautiful messy encounters, and that’s why the second base is a part of the game. You know I wouldn’t change any of it because the mess allows me to reconstruct and grow and the best of times allows me to enjoy the sweetness of life. Either way the dice rolls I live in gratitude for all of it.

 

People are our base of our community. Unless you can tell me how this whole Earth and Universe was made beautiful, powerful, healing and alive with everything we need- you have to believe in God or a higher power whatever that is for you. We are imperfect beautifully perfect beings all working on issues, all hurt in some way, all perfect, and the set of unique gifts that we need to thrive. It is how we deal with them that determines our success or sorrow. It first begins at home plate our relationship with spirit. Once we are connected to that and develop our character we move onto the second base where the key is an attitude of humility and willingness to change and grow. We either have healthy or unhealthy relationships. So how do you intentionally build healthy ones?

 

Second base is where we get to put into practice everything we’ve learned at home plate. The beauty is that it is not for our gain, but we do it for others. Why is this so important? Caring about others, pursuing healthy relationships, being more loving and giving, even forgiveness are all part of being successful at second base. Maybe we could change our attitude from “people suck” to “without people, what kind of life would it be?” Boring that is for sure!

 

“Winning at second base begins with admitting that we are all imperfect people who have some emotional wounds that need to be healed.” – Kevin Myers

 

Those of you who follow my work know that I’m a big fan of non-violent communication (NVC) developed by Marshall Rosenberg. Well, one of my favorite yogi’s wrote a book called What We Say Matters: Practicing Nonviolent Communication by Judith Hanson Laster and Ike Laster. She talks about listening to ourselves and others. She uses an example of how to hear yourself in a new way, and that is to understand whatever someone else says to you as a request. So you can translate whatever somebody says to you as a “please” or “thank you.” Here is an example Judith shares in her book and I know I have done this and you probably have too. Have you ever not timed the light exactly right and you end up in the cross walk. Has someone who is using the cross walk ever looked at you in disgust or yelled “stupid driver.” Then you beat yourself up with inner dialogue filled with judgments and shame or maybe you thought that the individual in the cross walk was being rude and blame them. Instead, if you translate that into “please hear my fear” “please understand I was afraid you might hit someone.” Do you feel compassion arise for him and yourself? Next time someone says something that irritates you translate it into a “please” or “thank you” even better you may go back to someone the next day and say “What I meant to say the other day is…..Please hear…..” Note their response and how you feel in your body and mind. You can determine which way leaves you feeling empowered and empathic.

 

When I first heard the phrase “hurting people hurt people” in my mid-twenties I realized that I had been hurting people do to childhood traumas that I suffered. I learned to look at the flip side of the coin and that without addressing my issues I could not expect to have healthy relationships with others. So I started on a path of introspection, self-study, and to make a conscious choice of the person I wanted to become. Have you ever seen a family where the parents are very successful, yet the kids are not? The parent’s greed and pride, which they passed onto their children created broken relationships. This elephant in the room continues to stay affecting for years until the elephant is talked about such as the greed and pride that was causing so much pain and until that energy is willing to shift to putting each other first, the family cannot heal. The good news is that, although our brokenness may create havoc in our relationships, we are given space and time actually to heal. Time only heals when we spend time healing. When we don’t, it’s the elephant that does all the growing instead of us. I know to write a shitty rough draft in my journal where I sit across the table from them and then write a letter of nonviolent communication after I have given myself self-empathy and I can sit next to the person.

 

How does the phrase “hurting people hurt people” affect you when you first heard it? Why do you think it affected you that way?

 

What are some of your past wounds that time has not healed? Do you think they could heal if you started taking steps to improve them? What might that look like?

 

How can the encouragement of being united in a community of love, kindness, and empathy help you to show love to others? In what ways can you show that love?

 

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