One of the issues that pose a challenge to the process of change, whether it's improving your financial condition, creating a stable relationship or losing weight - is that it involves dealing with things you can't see, hear, smell or touch. It's the data that is stored at the back of our head - in our mind - that we don't have access to using our five senses, which dictate how our life will look like and which thoughts and feelings will govern our inner world.
Have you ever seen a thought, smelled a feeling or touched a paradigm? You can only see, smell or touch their manifestations in the world around you.
The above idea, which is well within common knowledge, possesses the greatest traps ever - regarding the source of things 'outside', in the world around us, hence missing the fundamental truth that all stems from within.
The same principle applies when dealing with conflicts. We see our own egoic patterns in the world around us - in the other side's outrageous behavior, yet his or her behavior are mere manifestations of our inner self.
I admit that this idea - that the other side's unbearable, outrageous, inconceivable behavior is a mere projection - is quite hard to accept. Indeed, what we think and feel about the other side is so convincing that even considering the fact that it's all a projection is quite hard to perceive… The intensity of this self -conviction is what turns conflicts, or any other difficult situations, to a unique and powerful opportunity to explore the fundamental layers of our ego. As you might start realizing, the question 'how to resolve conflict' is a much deeper question than what you might have figured before. You can read more about this idea in my book The Romance of Ego & Conflict: A Practical & Spiritual Guide For Improving Your Conflict & Negotiation Abilities By Dissolving Your Own Ego.
In this post I'd like to focus on something more intuitive to understand - the falsehood of our story and the way it affects how we tackle the question: how to resolve conflicts.
Contemplate your life conflicts – whether with your clients, colleagues and managers or with a neighbor, your spouse or your kid. There is one characteristic that characterizes all of these conflicts with no exception.
Can you identify it?
The characteristic I'm referring to, which appears in every one of your conflicts regardless of the identity of the other side or the context the conflict is occurring in, is the convincing story you've constructed so that it will support your point of view.
The story will include one, or more, of the following ingredients: the sequence of events that led you and the other side to where both of you are now, past examples of similar situations, solid arguments and medium to high emotional level. Each and every one of the above, let alone if combined together, will form a conclusive - unquestionable conclusion: It's the other side's fault!
If you weren't able to detect this prominent characteristic, and the chances are high that you weren't, you shouldn't feel bad as the chances were working against you. As I wrote at the beginning, the hardest things to detect and cope with are the things you can't grasp with your five senses. The story you get absorbed in is a manifestation of a dormant mind - ego characteristics that quietly weave the story without you being aware of it.
The story is a result of the mind's need to create coherent reality perception - to align between inner paradigms to our awareness reality perception. We forge our life experience based on the material constructing our ego. You can see how easy it is to miss the fundamental truth that all stems from within.
Not only do we construct and believe in the story we've written, we're also rushing to our friends to share this story with them. Our friends – our constituency – share their sympathy with us and by that making us tighten our grip on the story – locking us more tightly in it.
Locking? Why locking? A simple axiom says that the more right you feel the more stuck you are. If you are right and the other side as wrong as your story points out, then you are a victim of hisdoing/misdoings and/or he needs to do something in order to fix whathe damaged. By insisting on being right you give away your proactivity and hand the initiative to the other side.
Simply said: The story and your constituency are the number one reason you are stuck!
I bet you’ve probably dealt with the question about how to resolve conflicts more than once in the past. If you're old enough, your life experiences will grant you the following perspective: ponder you past conflicts and find those that you can boldly say were mismanaged by you. You'll notice that the story you had in these conflicts was as convincing as the story you had in all other conflicts. Weaving yourself a convincing story is like putting a veil, if not blinders, that masks your ability to focus your attention on your goals and act accordingly.
Still not convinced? Let's do a short exercise. Think of an unresolved conflict you have, read the following sentence and fill in the blanks:
"But what if the other side has done terrible things to me (fill in the story describing the atrocities that other side has committed against you), shouldn't I have the right to think, feel and act in a way that reflects that (fill in the justification you have for thinking, feeling and acting the way you want to)?"
Take a good look at the sentence you've just filled and ask yourself if it really promotes you towards achieving your greater good goals?
Based on my 17 years experience in consulting and training people on conflicts and negotiation and based on my own personal life experience, the answer to the question I've just asked will almost always be a (silent) no… silent because it's quite hard admitting that the so called convincing story that we believe in whole -heartedly is really counter -productive to perusing our goals.
So, what can you do about it, how to resolve conflict differently? Well, you have to de-in-love yourself from your story – distance yourself from the convincing story you've weaved– and put your eyes on your goals.
This is much easier written than done as you know how enchanting the story we tell ourselves, and whoever is willing to listen, is. This is where the question 'how to resolve conflict' comes into real play – being able to act in a way which corresponds with your goals rather than with your story and cheering constituency.