- Ricka Robb Kohnstamm
How do you hold the energy of your conflict?
Conflict is a messy, important teacher.
We have conflicts at work when values collide.
For instance, what worked for an older generation doesn't provide the balance that is important to you. How do those jerks think you can be a responsible parent while demanding that you stay in the office until all hours of the night? Maybe that worked for them back in the day, but it doesn't work for you!
Or how about when your company is so focused on profits that they are upselling products that they haven't figure out how to reliably provide... and leaving you to face the rightfully angry customer! Who do they think they are? Selfish, money grubbing idiots!
We also have conflicts within families because priorities shift or issues are left unspoken.
You may feel overwhelming anxiety around "fixing" the young adult child who still lives at home and it spills out at the dinner table.
Or you feel angry about the fact that your mother STILL judges you harshly. When will she ever stop?!?
Perhaps your brother avoids all of it by no longer coming to family events.
What puts me on one side and you on the other? And what does that tell me about my values, my habitual behaviors, my filtered lens on the world?
How do I take responsibility for approaching conflict responsibly and constructively?
The way you "hold" conflict affects how you approach it.
Here are four ways to consider... consider trying them all on.
Close fisted. Think of a current conflict and clench your fists in a tight ball. Notice which thoughts arise - typically anger, harsh words, pushing back, defensiveness. "You are such a jerk!" "If it wasn't for you, you self-centered control freak, everything would be working right now!" "You are a narcissistic creep!" These thoughts are not bad or good, they just are thoughts. Allow them, notice them, have compassion for them without having to make them actionable.
Wet rag. Now loosen your fists and completely relax, like a wet rag. Again, notice the thoughts that arise when you consider your conflict. "Well then, never mind, you never listen to me anyway." "Who cares? I'll take my good ideas and energy somewhere where I am appreciated." "I guess I'll just give up, what's the point?" Again, these thoughts are not good or bad. Notice them. Consider them. Then allow them to flow through you without making them actionable.
Open palms. Sit up, stretch your arms in front of you, palms up, and again consider the conflict. Notice what happens in this position... your shoulders may soften and drop, you may notice your breath moving lower into your belly. Your thoughts may soften and deepen as well. "Maybe she has a point, I have been a bit scattered." "I guess I could have been clearer about my boundaries up front and perhaps we could have avoided this." "It makes sense that he can't read my mind; I need to say what I am feeling instead of bottling things up until I explode." Notice, consider, allow.
Hands over heart. Finally, place both of your hands over your heart. Take a deep breath in and out and again consider your conflict. Notice what happens in this position, as you activate and pay attention to the heart-based neurons. "I miss you and want to be back in good relationship." "Your approval matters to me." "I want to feel included in the family." "You and I are a stronger team together and even though you bug me, I love you and want to work with you to find a better way." "I want our relationship to be one of ease, not tension. I care about you." Notice, consider, allow, and now move into right action.
You may notice your habitual patterns of moving into one of the early stances and getting stuck there. Instead, consider the power of moving through all of them, before taking action.
Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.