I’m preparing to co-facilitate a workshop on conflict when I’m in Portugal next month, and frankly, I’ve never thought so much about conflict in my life.
Where does it come from? What makes it worse? What makes it disappear?
So it’s not surprising that in bringing my attention to conflict, I’m seeing it everywhere. In the people around me, but mostly, in myself.
I’m noticing how I create conflict by believing that someone else should see things the way I see them.
Case in point:
It looks to me like conflict can best be resolved by seeing that it’s made up of thought.
My co-facilitator thinks conflict can best be resolved with reflective circles where people feel seen and heard.
I think he should see it my way, because of course, I’m right. 🙂
Now I’m smack dab in the middle of a conflict…about creating a workshop about resolving conflict.
Oh, the irony!
I know conflict is happening between us and can’t seem to stop it from happening. Because I keep thinking I’m right, you see. 🙂
But here’s where things got really juicy:
The other morning I woke up with a head full of judgements and complaints. Full of conflicts.
I caught myself in real time thinking up those conflicts by giving my attention to them. And it occurred to me…
You can’t resolve a conflict until you stop thinking about it.
Thinking about a “conflict” only makes you feel more of your conflict thinking. Trying to solve a conflict with thinking is like throwing gasoline on a fire and expecting it to go out.
But once you stop thinking about a “conflict,” it dissolves immediately and you no longer feel it.
The implications of this are HUGE.
First, other people don’t need to change in order for you to stop feeling conflict with them.
While there may always be differences between people, when you don’t see someone as a “conflict” or “problem,” there’s no charge to it. The situation is simply a challenge with no inherent meaning.
As soon as you stop thinking of your conflict, the feeling of it disappears. You can shift your attention to connection and presence, and you feel better immediately.
And this doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing about your situation. In fact, a peaceful state of mind makes it much easier to recognize any actions necessary to resolve your differences.
Second, the minute you stop thinking about any “problem” you have in life, it no longer exists.
All day long, I’m creating problems every time I think my experience should be different than it is.
Fighting reality hurts, and I suffer.
But the second I take my attention off my “problem” thinking, it’s gone. My problem is solved.
If you put your hand on a hot stove, it burns. Take your hand off the burner, and it stops burning your skin.
It’s just like that with any painful thoughts you may have. You can’t feel them if you aren’t giving them your attention.
I’m seeing this more clearly than ever. Now I don’t expect you to just believe me about this. I recognize that if you haven’t seen this for yourself, it sounds radical or even crazy that it could be so easy to eliminate your problems.
So I invite you to take a look for yourself.
Think of something that looks like a “real problem.”
Now, what would it be like if you couldn’t think that? At all?
Nothing (in your situation) would change, but everything would be different.
Back to my own experience of getting real about conflict…
At first it was a little painful feeling so sensitive to my conflict thinking all the time, especially when it seems like I shouldn’t be having it.
But it’s become clear that I don’t have to get rid of these conflict thoughts. Even seeing them, it’s easier to recognize that I don’t have to listen to them.
In the specific situation with my co-facilitator, every time I shift my thoughts from the “conflict” to listening to him, I feel better. Both of us are passionate about helping people find freedom from conflict, and both of us have something beautiful and transformational to share with our workshop participants. It ALL belongs in the experience.
The dissolution of conflict is expanding my awareness of what’s possible.
The biggest miracle is that I’m beginning to see the possibility of not only accepting conflict, but embracing it as an opportunity for deeper connection and possibilities.
I never would have thought this was possible for a lifelong conflict avoider like me.
What are you seeing about conflict?