“Peace is not the absence of CONFLICT, but the ability to cope with it.”
Thank you, Dorothy Thomas, I could not agree more.
CONFLICT is a part of every growing and healthy relationship. “It is normal and natural to disagree, and to sometimes be unbalanced when you do.” I knew my therapist was stating the obvious, but I had always thought in my younger years that if I felt CONFLICTED about an issue with another person that somehow I must be in the wrong.
“Very few people consistently manage to always be calm and mature when they are growing and challenging old beliefs and fears,” he would often reassure me.
What a relief it was for me to be reminded of that again and again as I gained the courage to find my voice and speak up for myself. I am one of those people that can honestly say I am not a slow learner, just a quick forgetter.
I spent eight solid years of my early recovery working with an amazing male therapist. As some of my elders were violent alcoholic and incestuous men, I had no male elders still alive in my life. I needed support, as I believe we all do, from tribal elders. Elders that know the intricacies of our heart and can help us navigate with integrity and self-respect through life. I have been blessed with Beautiful Barb, who has been my female elder since I was 10 days clean and sober back in 1995, but in the early years, wise, safe males were absent from my life, so I paid for the privilege weekly to learn from one as a single mother bringing up two sons. I needed support.
A few decades down the track in my sobriety and emotional recovery I still play the internal recordings I uploaded all those years ago of his voice. If I ever feel CONFLICTED about CONFLICT I can hear my therapist’s reassuring words …
“Sometimes people yell and become upset and argumentative when they are fearful and in disagreement. It is important to always do your utmost to remain respectful and non-abusive, but sometimes we don’t always get it right, and that just makes us human. You have chosen to live a life where you grow and expand emotionally and challenge yourself and behaviours that no longer serve you. You will be in CONFLICT with yourself and with others from time to time.”
The hardest person for most of us to resolve conflict with is ourselves.
I recall Barb telling me many times that when we are learning something new very few of us start out doing it with much grace. Whether it is riding a bike, learning how to kiss, drive a car or hold a baby. Most of us are awkward when it is a new and unfamiliar challenge we are presented with.
When we are facing new life issues often we have CONFLICT with ourselves about not knowing how to be mature and skilled at it. The challenge for us is to not ridicule ourselves and run. We need to use the wise and loving voices of a caring parent and allow ourselves to take our time and make mistakes, and even get it wrong. Then we can and will learn.
If we choose to master the art of rising above the CONFLICTING desires of others in our lives, we’ve got to ensure we’re not in CONFLICT with ourselves first. One of life’s inescapable truths is that only when we accept ourselves fully as we are can we then make room for healthy change.
The secret to resolving all CONFLICT with ourselves or others is a willingness to cooperate. If the other party refuses to consider a compromise we must find one within ourselves. Once I declared that my war with myself was finally over, my wars with others diminished. Putting another or ourselves down will never help us reach the top.
If we are emotionally at war with ourselves, peace with anyone else will be hard to maintain. Here is a little checklist when it comes to reviewing our level of inner CONFLICT.
1. Do you fight yourself more than anyone else?
2. What is the main reason you become so upset with yourself?
3. Do you belittle yourself more than anyone else?
4. Do you honour your word when you make yourself a promise, or often let yourself down?
5. Are you happy with the level of emotional intimacy in your relationships?
I never really understood until I commenced working on my Emotional Fitness that long-term intimacy is not achievable without robust CONFLICT-resolution skills. Intimacy is often misunderstood as requiring total acceptance and validation from our loved ones. Ironically, deep intimacy develops via CONFLICT resolution, self-validation and our ability to maintain a clear sense of self if an anxiety-driven partner pressures us for conformity.
Once we ask ourselves direct questions and answer them honestly we can commence to clarify our inner CONFLICT. Implementing healthy solutions and cooperating with ourselves will create more peace in our inner world.
If we don’t or won’t go within, we quite simply go without.
Lotsa love Cynthia xxx
© Copyright 2016 Cynthia J. Morton Emotional Fitness™