A fact of life: Life includes conflict.
How did that make you feel reading that just now?
Why is conflict part of how we experience life in the first place? It may be because we live in a physical reality rooted in polarity. We live within a reality of contrast. If there’s a hot, there’s also a cold. If there’s an up, there’s also a down. If there’s life, there’s also death. Contrast, which may result in conflicting experiences, is actually a benefit that’s in service to life, and you are also life. Contrast is an integral part of life that supports a diverse, adaptive and expansive ecosystem that sustains life as we know it. Consider those individuals who won’t tolerate the heat or conversely, the cold. Even on a smaller scale, our individual preferences can and does create conflict which is rooted in a reality of contrast.
Each individual functions as its own universe, occupying varying thoughts and feelings towards a particular thing or person, making choices that will either enhance or compromise the quality of their life and come into their own knowing on a timeline that’s meant precisely for them. If we were ever wondering of a benefit that conflict could possibly offer us, just think of all the things you’ve learned since your birth that were once perceived as imposible or conflicting or not occurring with ease to you, that ultimately provided 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 exact 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? More over, 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 badly bruised. I sat motionless on my bed, and remained in my room all day and into the evening. I didn’t consume food nor drink. It was several hours at least before I was able to unbind myself from this blow. 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 3 insights into unbinding myself from the conflict. The long awaited exhale was felt through my entire body when the seeing was made available through me. I could at last see his personal triggers, and mine as well. 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 more 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 affective. Trust that you (know) the feeling included in the words you’re outwardly expressing. A really critical component of venting is to understand 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 egoic self.
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 judgement (of your actions) from your person or self-concept. Understand that your action and your character are not the same thing. 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 true 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 sensible 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.