I have been a lifelong avoider of conflict.
As in I used to really, really hate it - and that's coming from someone who counsels her kids on the regular to not use the word hate. Looking back I think a lot of it had to do with being a perfectionist, and knowing that if there was conflict relating to me, it was most likely because I'd done something wrong. (Or thought I'd done something wrong.)
Being wrong is not a place that a perfectionist feels comfortable. In fact, the amount of anxiety I endured around making sure I was doing all things right so as to avoid any future conflict . . . was exhausting.
But back to this idea of conflict or dealing with difficult life situations - the deal is that you can't avoid it, you can't sit in the past, or jump to the future. (Well you can - but the results are almost always decidedly unsatisfactory!) Truly, the only way to the other side . . . is through.
In Martha Becks' book "Steering by Starlight" she uses a metaphor of our "Three Ring Life" - which includes three concentric circles of consciousness: The Shallows, The Ring of Fire, and The Core of Peace.
People who are living their lives in the "Shallows" tend to be focused on material possessions, let themselves be guided by negative emotions and false beliefs, along with hefty doses of unease, stress and a constant want for "more". Bleh.
By contrast, The Core of Peace is where no untruths can exist and there is "no apparent separation from the fabric of The Universe." Attachment to grandiose thoughts or fancy things aren't important - and we don't have any concepts of being famous, noble, smart, handsome, influential, etc etc etc. It's where we most want to be, in what Beck refers to as "the state of the Stargazer".
So why do we spend so much time avoiding it?
Because we don't want to pass through the third ring to get there: The Ring of Fire.
"The Ring of Fire is the emotional process we must go through in order to reach the core of peace. There are only two ways to accomplish this. We can disbelieve any false ideas that are causing unnecessary pain. And we must grieve any unavoidable pain, such as the loss of health or a loved one."
She makes it sound so simple!
What I've found is that the same idea can be applied to resolving conflict - in order to get to the other side (The Ring of Peace) the only way is through (The Ring of Fire!). Let me tell you, once I figured that out . . . life got a whole lot easier.
These days when my boyfriend and I have a disagreement, this is usually the thought process that goes into our discussion:
* Ask myself "What was my part?"
* Own what's mine, let the rest go.
* Be willing to be wrong.
* Do better (or differently) next time.
Do I love it? No. But I do love how much better things feel on the other side of those conversations - it really is so peaceful!
What about you? Do you have some favorite conflict resolution practices? Some people actually really love conflict (which is so foreign to me!) - I'd love to hear your stories . . . send me a note or leave a comment below!
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