Evolved Conflict Resolution

Last night I had a dream about getting people together. It was a ton of work to get everyone on the same page. The deal was, that we all had to be ready to leave for a camping trip at the same time or we couldn’t go. We were constantly bickering and arguing, running off, and getting distracted. After what felt like days, the moment came and everyone was ready, but at the last minute, I broke the whole thing up because there was a minor imperfection. Back to square one.

When I awoke, my question was why would I want to keep the fight going? After all of that work to get us all together, why would I sabotage at the last second? Was it really worth breaking it up just because one piece wasn’t perfect?

Recently, in my waking life, I was working on an activity with some young people. We had a group with a variety of needs and triggers. The activity: for all of us to stand silently in a circle. It serves as a metaphor for our entire social structure and value system. It did not go as expected, but it did go exactly the way it needed to. It also literally took weeks, because we had a few folks seriously rebelling. For them, social acceptance was more frightening than just being alone. We understood it to be self-preservation, but ultimately the rest of the group experienced it as selfishness. We observed, that once one person left the group, it served as permission for others to walk down the road of selfishness too. I could see the mentality developing, “if they aren’t participating, I am not participating. As long as they are worse, then I’m not the bad guy.”

Then of course, a larger issue developed. As time went on, those who were “doing the right thing,” lost their patience. I could hear what was going on in their heads, “why should I have to suffer because other people can’t get it together. I should get to do what I want because I followed the rules.” They forget that they could be or have been the person on the outside, caught up in a  wound and self-preservation. They forget compassion. And thus, privilege is born.

After working through this for days, constantly reminding everyone of the goal (and the ultimate point that we are stronger as a whole than we are as individuals), the moment came. We stood in a circle, silently, together. And then- saboteur! This time it was actually one of our leaders that spotted an imperfection and broke the whole thing up.

So again, the question is: why would we want to keep the fight going? Different people have different reasons to prevent conflict resolution.

Fight the Good Fight

The saboteur opened the fight back up because on some level, he sees everything in terms of the fight. Who am I fighting with now, who do I need to fight for next; how do I protect others from god; peace is something you have to fight for. If there is a fight then I can get on the right side of the fight. You become so at home in the fight, that if we have the chance for peace, the fear shows up: what happens now? What do I do? Who am I if there is no fight?

The Problem Solver

For me, the situation is a little different. I don’t really like the fight. I’d rather things be at peace. It is easy to look at the saboteur and blame him, but then, I know I have a role in what happened too. You see, my skill is smoothing things over, meditating, and finding wisdom in conflict. If we were at peace, what magic would I have? I’ve become conscious of this over the years, and the way it shows up in my work is to add just one more thing after a resolution- just to keep it open. It may no longer be a full-on fight, but my tendency is to find one more thing to do.  Yes, there is always more that can be uncovered and made conscious, and, shut up sometimes. Just let it be, you know? Perhaps it is easier for me to work on others than myself.  Is it a lie that I want peace? Who am I if there is no conflict?

I’ll Die if I’m Wrong

Often in a conflict, you get two sides. Both sides think they are right and both sides feel like they are the victim. A stalemate develops. There is no movement because ultimately, both parties are afraid they could be wrong. When you get into these tricky places, it is hard to have a clear heart. The fear of being wrong takes over and you actually keep the conflict going. If there is no resolution, then you don’t ever have to face the possibility that you could be wrong. The belief shows up: if I am not right then I am wrong. To shift out of this, this goal is not to figure out how to prove who is right and who is wrong, but to move out of the dualistic belief altogether. Just because you are right, doesn’t mean the other side isn’t also right. Multiple things can all be true at one time. When we plant our feet in dualistic thinking, it turns into: I would rather suffer the victim than be wrong. Who am I if there is no right and wrong?

Here No, See No, Speak No

Sometimes conflict feels like danger. This person wants to feel like there is peace by avoiding the fight altogether. As soon as things get tense, they say, “no need to get worked up,” or “we can talk about this later.” Of course, they mean never. The fundamental belief is inverted and it looks more like, “if there is conflict, that means something is wrong and I will get hurt.” Actually, nothing is wrong, it is just conflict. Know that nice-ing it over doesn’t necessarily solve the conflict, it just covers it up. The question is, can I be safe if there is conflict? If I am all things, who am I?

We all have some way of avoiding conflict resolution, however subtle (or obvious!). The good news is our heightening awareness puts us in a unique position to get ahead of it. The next time you come to a situation like this, scan through your feelings and see if you can pinpoint which position you identify with the most. The question moves from how do we solve the conflict, to is it possible I want conflict? If you are considering this question, let me save you some time here, the answer is yes. It is possible that maybe sometimes you kind of just a little bit sort of avoiding peace. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, once you acknowledge this, you are actually on your way to resolving this within yourself and that is what brings us closer to peace. This will be a fundamental understanding as we move forward, both in individual relationships, politics, and viewpoints. When the stakes of right and wrong aren’t so high, you don’t have to spend as much energy putting people on the wrong side of the fence, because there actually is no fence.

The thing is, just because we aren’t all on the same page (vibration, level or channel!) doesn’t mean we aren’t all still together working together.  We create space so we can honor one another.

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