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Conflict Series #3: The New Paradigm of Conflict Resolution

The New Paradigm of Conflict Resolution is the final part in a three-part series on Conflict. If you missed #1 and 2, hop on over and check it out. Click here for #1 and here for #2!

When we’re in conflict with loved ones, even if we’re the most resourceful and skillful mother f-er around, we’re still going to hit conflicts that trigger us SO DEEPLY that we cannot find our centre.

As human beings, we have some serious survival instincts. When we’re in situations that make us feel as if our identity (i.e. values) is being threatened, our physiology kicks up a whole host of reactions that direct us to fight, flight or freeze. When we’re in any one of these states, it’s very hard to be our best selves. So, we have to find a way to calm ourselves and bring ourselves out of a survival state.

*Note: If this is due to real trauma, the trauma must be healed before we can expect ourselves to move through this process.*

There is one remedy that I recommend to all my clients, and it’s a truth that I’ve learned again and again: a return to breath, followed by a heavy dose of empathy.

First, find your breath. Stay with it until you feel your heartbeat and muscles return to normal.

And then ask yourself: What if the person you’re in conflict with is experiencing the same fear as you?

Yup, I said it. And what if I were to tell you that this is generally true in 85% of cases– because sometimes someone is just an asshole.

If we return to the first blog in this series, I told you that conflict generally comes from one thing: fear. Fear that one of our needs is not being met: love + connection, safety, and significance.

What if the person who is making your life hell on earth at work is also simply afraid because they are insecure in their own position, so they must belittle you to feel powerful? When you share your dreams with someone you love and they react in criticism, perhaps this is more about wanting to keep you safe than cut down your dreams. A friends’ disagreement on your stance on Black Lives Matter is simply a fear of looking at their own responsibility in their daily choices.

None of this excuses bad actions, but it does provide a space for open vulnerability + compassion.

We have to recognize that the old paradigm of conflict management goes one of two ways: sooth and ignore, or aggressively over-power the other person to assert one’s strength and therefore UNFUCKWITHABILITY, thereby keeping oneself safe and intact.

This isn’t a wrong way to be, it’s just generally unskilled. It lacks in open-heartedness. Vulnerability. Perspective. Curiousity. Self-reflection. But damn, it’s effective in its own way (READ: ruining intimacy and relationships, shaming and blaming others into submission)

And so, when we’re confronted with these emotionally charged moments, choose the new paradigm that is rooted in love. Choose empathy even when it feels hard. This simple shift in thinking can offer so much healing.

Does this jive with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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