Conflict is never easy, and because it is not an easy thing to walk through, many tend to avoid it completely, even if that means that their own needs never do get met. There are also some who dive into conflict with a passion, creating drama at every turn. And then there are a number of folks who learn how to utilise it to the betterment of their relationship, or their work environment, or their community etc.
I used to avoid conflict at all costs. When I was a kid, conflict meant a very distinct possibility of physical violence. As a result of that, I learned very early on how to read a person’s energy, how to read their body language and their facial expressions, and how to detect danger in the tone of voice that was being used. I also learned how to have at least 3 exit strategies for any environment I am in. This all became second nature to me. Perhaps that is a medicine that I gleaned from the experience of living in a physically violent environment. I suppose that is what originally attracted me to things like police work and the military. But my ever-so-short stint in the Reserves only taught me that my father was a direct result of the dysfunction that was in his own childhood home and the dysfunction one encounters in militant settings. Yet, years after leaving the Reserves, I am still very stealthy in my approach to every environment. And I watch every person in every coffee shop that I frequent. I notice the subtleties that most people miss and many try to hide. This makes me very good at my job as a healer. It is something that I not only won’t shut off now, but simply don’t know how to shut off.
So when I am now encountering conflict, I approach it differently. Instead of running from it…I stand up to it. I know that it can actually bring some wonderful things. And my goal is always harmony…unless there is abuse involved. Then look out.
Conflict provides us with insights into ourselves and others. We get to actually see the person, not for who they truly are, but for who they become when they are feeling weak, overwhelmed, afraid, and desperate. When we see this we really do need to not judge it as anything other than a bad moment. If we hold it as something that defines the person, we will completely miss who they actually are.
Conflict provides us with the ability to test and build our own inner reserve of strength and vulnerability. If we can only show people on the outside our strength, they will never know that they can approach us if they are feeling vulnerable. They will think that they will look weak and pathetic and will turn inward instead of turning to us to help them resolve issues. Showing our vulnerabilities helps them to know that we too are human and have feelings. Letting them know that what they said or did hurt us or scared us or overwhelmed us and why, we get an opportunity to communicate something that they may not have known about us. We get to give them opportunities to lower their own defence mechanisms. That will always strengthen us.
It also provides us with the opportunity to own our own stuff. People walk around thinking that they are the absolute BEST and that if anyone has issue with them then that is THEIR issue and not their own. Owning your own stuff shows a maturity level that many struggle their whole lives to achieve. It is not about blame. It is about responsibility, which is only the ability to respond instead of react. We cannot, however, get caught up in the game of taking blame of OTHER people’s stuff. That solves nothing. So if we are able to own our own stuff, yet allow them the freedom of owning theirs, then we are on the right track. Yes, there is a freedom involved in owning your own stuff. You see, if you own it, then no one can hold it against you now or later.
Conflict also helps us to learn how to build bridges in life. This was my main stumbling block for YEARS. I would rather burn a bridge and walk away than try to build one between myself and anyone who harmed me. Now, sometimes others are not willing to participate in the building of bridges between you and them. That is their choice. When that happens, just walk away. You don’t have to necessarily burn that bridge, just don’t waste your time trying to repair something from only one side. Everyone is a participant, consciously or unconsciously, in the making of a bridge, the maintenance of that bridge, the destruction of the bridge and the repair of the bridge. Be conscious of even the existence of the bridge and you are already 10 steps ahead of many people in life.
Conflict does not always have to be dangerous. When a bridge gets built and well maintained there is a safety that gets created. Even if we have to re-create that safety by approaching uncomfortable subjects, that safety is definitely worth the effort.