Having a little perspective helps immensely to resolve conflict. If you can see things from another person’s perspective, this could enable you to accept why they are behaving in a certain way or what might appeal to them in terms of finding workable solutions. Asking the right questions of yourself and others is a good place to start, working on how you express empathy, kindness , compassion and knowing that you have emotional options instead of default reactions all put you on this path.
There are however, some universal truths that you might already know but in the humdrum of everyday life , we forget about them and their significance. This is especially true during times of conflict. We ignore the basic conditions of life that are experienced by every single person on this planet until life ends. If we could only remind ourselves of them and really accept the impact they have on our lives, we could put down our battle armour and start thinking about more important things in life. Like what makes us happy, how we can love more and how we can make our time here count.
I’ve taken these five truths from David Richo’s book “Five True Things”. It’s a refreshing take on how to deal with events in life that challenge us and conflict is one of them. When you read through the list, take moment to think about a conflict in your life, no matter how big or small, and at the end of the list, note down your observations.
- Nothing lasts forever, everything changes
Life changes every moment of the day in minor and major ways. This is reflected in nature and its cycles but it is also a condition of our interactions with others and our own self. Relationships end. That might be because of conflict or not but in any event, accepting that our emotions change all the time, including how we feel about partners, friends, colleagues or employers, will help you to see conflict differently. It doesn’t mean that you won’t feel angry or upset about it but it can help you to accept the outcome more actively. Sometimes, the hardest thing to digest is that a person with whom you are in a relationship just doesn’t feel the same way as you do anymore. This is out of our control.
This is reassuring in a way because the pain and discomfort you feel during conflict will pass to better times. New beginnings follow endings and we can respond to that in positive and constructive ways.
2. Things are out of our control.
No matter what you think, things happen in life that spoil our best laid plans. Death and illness are obvious examples of this and we are seeing now exactly how unable we are control life with the current pandemic. Conflict is no different. They arise sometimes out of nowhere and can escalate or de-escalate because of the actions of somebody else. No matter how hard you try, you cannot dictate somebody else’s emotions, how they respond nor what they are thinking. It seems pointless, then, to attempt to do so. If you can accept this then you may find yourself focusing on the aspects of yourself that you can influence such as your own emotional responses, behaviours and attitudes. You could also be more tolerant of conflicts which arise out of misunderstandings, miscommunications, wrong perceptions and prejudices.
3. Fairness is not guaranteed. This applies to life in general but especially to conflict. I have heard many people say that they don’t deserve to be treated in a particular way . That might actually be true but accepting that you don’t always get a fair outcome, especially in any type of conflict, may guide you towards ending it quicker. It’s not fair that things change for the worse, that relationships end prematurely or that people treat you in a certain way but that’s sometimes how things go. Get to grips with that and the emotional fallout of unfairness can fade quicker which makes conflict easier to handle.
4. Suffering is an experience that everyone will have. Everybody feels pain and has or will suffer. If you know somebody who hasn’t suffered then they are lying. What this condition of life should do is highlight to you that your conflict with them is likely to be causing them to suffer in the same was as you are. Consider whether it’s worth it? Isn’t life difficult enough with events we cannot control that cause us harm without our everyday conflicts?
5. Not all people have the same moral code as you do. David Richo says that people are not always loving and loyal but I would take this one step further. It’s certainly true that people in relationships with each other may extend the same love or loyalty to each other but that doesn’t always endure. Whilst I may perceive that certain relationships must be based on trust, loyalty, love and dedication, somebody else may see no importance at all in these values. We may be blind to that, in the hope or the mistaken belief that all people are like us but the reality is that this is not always the case. When you can accept people for how they really are then conflict does not need to arise. A conflict may just be a clash of values. You can’t change that. Only they can.
Your emotions are important but you may be giving your conflicts more importance than they deserve. Giving yourself a pause to think about the list above will help you to gain perspective and when you are in that space, you have options to choose what to do next.
Do you agree with my list? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.