A fact of life: life includes conflict.
Also a fact of life: You can choose to perceive the conflict as an opportunity instead; an opening for growth.
Why is conflict part of how we experience life in the first place? The answer is quite simple. We want things to go our way. And when they don’t, resistance arises from within us. The very nature of resistance is contrasting rather than coherent in energy, and this isn’t a positive nor a negative. Resistance or contrast can simply be perceived as information that you then apply towards your learning to expand your perception.
Each individual functions as its own universe, occupying varying thoughts, feelings, and beliefs toward particular things, persons, and places. How they perceive their reality influences choices that will either enhance or compromise the quality of their life. Though ultimately, all of it serves to further their personal expansion. Emphatic clarity for each individual occurs on a timeline that’s uniquely meant for them. If we were ever wondering of a benefit that conflict could possibly offer us, just recall some of the things you’ve learned since your birth that were once perceived as impossible or conflicting or not occurring with ease to you, that ultimately provide you with a myriad of blueprints for refining all the lessons you’ve learned.
We could pause to consider a reality that’s barren of contrast, and perhaps even conflict, where we all look the same, sound the same, think and feel the same at the same time and perform through life the same having no way to or no need to meet with contrast or resistance. How then do we learn, grow and expand? How then are we able to see ourselves in “others” and become more relatable? Moreover, would there even be a need for us to be here in physical form in the first place? Something tells me that deep down, we are all desiring contrast even when we know it may lead to conflict because if there was nothing to solve or reach beyond or see into or connect the dots of growth, then feeling the girth of our contributions may feel largely insignificant.
A few days ago, I was the recipient of criticism while being told that I was condemnatory. Because it came from a beloved, my self-concept was severely bruised. For hours, I sat motionless on my bed and remained in my room all day and into the evening. I didn’t consume food or drink. It was several hours at least before I was able to unbind myself from feeling bruised. During that time, I struggled with the thought that something was wrong with me. It didn’t occur to me to separate myself from my actions, which were the real target of the criticisms I was receiving. I took it personally instead and sat there in knots with all that’s happened.
After several hours, I received three insights into unbinding myself from the conflict. The long-awaited exhale was felt through my entire body when at last, I could perceive an out, a letting go. I could see his personal triggers and mine also. I didn’t need to continue lying to myself about being a bad person. I realized I could, however, improve my delivery in supporting my friend to feel better encouraged. I felt my whole body soften. I was actually gleeful! Imagine that! Even though my day had been fraught with mental heaviness and a noticeably collapsed posture, I was ecstatic at receiving these insights. Those insights ushered me towards letting go and returning to a lighter, more present disposition.
The first move is to vent.
Acknowledge outright how you feel. Include everything you’re authentically feeling and do it aloud. Let yourself hear those words. Your feelings need to be witnessed outside of your mind and body. Having someone to vent to isn’t an absolute necessity for venting to be effective. Trust that you (know) how you feel. A critical component of venting is understanding that you are not venting about the truth of who you are. Your circumstances are never the truth of who you are. While venting, know that it’s occurring solely from a bruised self-concept -your ego.
The second move is to admit there isn’t anything wrong with you. Grant yourself this. Actively tell yourself that although you were blamed for something, yelled at, called names, or judged, there isn’t anything wrong with your person or character. Instead, separate the criticism or judgment (of your actions) from your person or self-concept. Understand that your action and your character are not the same things. When you realize this, you’ll see that you were given an opportunity to learn from life’s greatest teacher -direct experience.
The final move is to offer yourself compassion. There’s a quote by Jack Kornfield that reads: “If compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” Compassion allows for an opening. If compassion could use words somehow, I feel it would ask, “What do you need for you in this now? Whatever it is, it’s ok to allow it.” It creates an opening to access seeing from varied perspectives. When you allow compassion, essentially, you’re removing a boundary that once blocked your access to seeing -seeing your true needs in the moment as well as the potential needs of the person on the other end of the conflict.
How did tension transition to softening? It was all in my willingness to remove my need to be the right one, the significant one. I was shown, ultimately, that meeting the completion of a conflict isn’t in our ability to identify a solution for the sake of dissolving the conflict. Rather, it’s in our willingness to commit to learning.
In all circumstances, we are learning ourselves essentially. Always ourselves.