Constructive conflict is actually quite beneficial. If you choose to engage in it fully present and by engaging in it fully present I mean that you are not reacting on autopilot from some past egoic wounding, are not triggered and can listen and communicate effectively, you can actually use the conflict to build compassion and understanding for yourself, for others and gosh, for the world at large. So, let me explain something and I won’t go too deep because I’ve got other blog posts that deal with this – if you are triggered into reacting, that urge to bite back has nothing to do with the present but rather is a piece of you living in the past. You can’t win a present day battle (of sorts) while you are stuck in the past seething or grieving for something you can’t fully comprehend. Like a dog who has been hit with a shoe by a former abusive owner, in a new, loving and healthy environment, if the dog is still flinching when its owners put on their shoes, the poor doggie is still caught in the past and is not fully present and open to receiving the wonderful love and comfort her new owners have to give her. Likewise, if you are trapped in the past trying to deal with present day conflict, how on Earth are you ever going to be able to spot genuine love and constructive criticism that will help you in life? You won’t because you’ll be too closed off in pain to recognize it. So, the pause I speak of will give you a moment to disengage from the past, the triggers and the pain and give you an opportunity to see things fresh and clear in order to respond.
We are so very amazing that we will do anything to heal ourselves. Sometimes a current day battle was chosen by you unconsciously – you chose people in your present life similar to those in your past to help you see the wounding you still carry. You won’t be able to see that if you are caught up in the past emotion of it but you’ll feel that triggered response and if you disengage, you may see that trigger and have a moment to go back and ask yourself, what do I need to comfort THAT.? Then, you can ask about the present day conflict – what do I need now in this situation? Separating the past from the present can be difficult if you lack the awareness to see a trigger from an old wound versus uncomfortable conflict in your present day reality. Know this, everyone is reacting from the past at some level and when you separate your own past from someone else’s in a heated moment of conflict, you have the chance to rise above it for both of you. Now, you both have to be willing to go and if you are, much can be faced openly - you can take the opportunity to grow. But if you don’t pause and become aware of your own reaction, you won’t see the pain someone else is likely in when they’ve spoken up and taken action either physically or verbally to wreck your world in a moment.
You can choose not to react and begin to ask them questions to give yourself a better frame to work within as well. Simple questions like:
1. Who said or did X?
2. What do you mean exactly?
3. When did that occur?
4. Where did you see this?
5. Why do you say that or what makes you think that?
6. How do you think we can resolve this?
7. I need a moment to consider what you’ve said. Can we pick this up later today or tomorrow when cooler heads can prevail?
Rather than mounting an epic and justified defense and getting sucked into the drama, consider using these questions to help the other person clearly specify the real issue at the heart of the matter rather than assuming and reacting. Use the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How in an earnest way to understand the point of the other without making any assumptions. If you assume, you’ll just be projecting your psychology as they may be doing. So ask questions – what makes you say that? How do you come to this understanding? Why would you assume rather than ask me? The answers could provide you with some invaluable insight into your own behavior as well as the behavior of others. Be honorable and act with integrity here if you wish to grow. Pushing buttons is for the fearful and woefully wounded.
Getting to the heart of conflict is meaningful and eye-opening work. Reacting to the assumptions, name-calling and the negative aspects of conflict is just draining. There is another side that you need to be aware of too. For some, they cannot get themselves out of the past and will continue to engage in behavior you may find attacking, demeaning, unsupportive or belittling. Realize something right this moment – that IS THEIR PSYCHOLOGY and it has nothing to do with you. Through asking questions, you can determine what it is you are truly dealing with and then you can make choices that are best for you – quietly and gently respond rather than reacting spooled up with emotion. You may have to decide if this is habitual behavior from someone who won’t get themselves some help or if this is actually a cry for help or understanding. You need your wits about you because I will tell you – the zombie apocalypse has nothing to do with half dead people walking around seeking brainzzzz….giggles. The zombies, in my mind, are poor human souls mired in the illusion of a very painful past. They don’t need brainzzzz, (e.g., a battle) they need love and understanding, they need a gentle awakening and much kindness and care. In their zombie state, it will be hard to get through. If you become very strong and learn not to react to their drama and wish to respond to it and feel you can live with it without become drenched in their psychology or reinforcing your own, knock yourself out – that is admirable. If you can’t, set a boundary and make new choices. Heck, if you’re the zombie – hey, we’ve all been there and that’s okay. There is a way out that doesn’t equate to continually engaging in the same arguments day after day and getting the same results. You can love yourselves free of the past, get yourselves some psychological assistance and beginning living today.
The bottom line:
· You are responsible for your triggers and that isn’t about blame, it is about understanding and learning to hold self-compassion.
· When you are triggered, it is the past knocking at your door. You do get to decide whether or not you will open it or keep it the door open.
· To resolve the past conflict, get present and clear so you can truly see the present conflict. The two are very likely intertwined but you'll need to be clear and present to resolve the present conflict first and then the understanding it brings may help you resolve the conflict of the past or at least reconcile your thoughts on it.
· Be willing to inquire rather than assume and that will get you closer to the truth about you and about the other party.
· You don’t have to engage in the psychology and drama of others. You can walk away without doing battle with the emotionally wounded.
· You can love yourself enough to allow yourself to be calm and present.
· Being calm and present allows you to show love and respect not only to yourself, but others as well.
© Jaie Hart (photo/words)