Who LOVES conflict? Upset stomach, headache, distracted, heavy heart, can’t sleep…? Not me and I’d bet not you either! Conflict may not be avoidable, but we can keep it from consuming our lives by doing our part to resolve it. What we don’t want is to let it fester until it begins to affect our health or destroy an important relationship. I have to admit that, although I’ve come a long way on my path to zen, conflict with someone I care about can put me in a tailspin. The Universe, with her wisdom and patience, tried three tries recently to teach me how to compassionately resolve conflict with people I care about. The bottom line…maybe literally, maybe figuratively, maybe both, is to put our hearts into it and…Hug it out.
Not what I had in mind…
During a particularly stressful time during the last couple months, I experienced several heart-pulling conflicts with people I love. If someone doesn’t tell us directly we might not be aware there is an issue that needs to be addressed. Or when a dust-up first happens, the injured party may not be ready or able to articulate what’s bothering them. And if we don’t approach the friction with thoughtfulness and sincerity, we could both end up with hard feelings that could cause irreparable damage. See below….
I knew immediately by the look on her face I stepped into the “mud.” I tried to explain, then apologize, but the damage was done. The next conflict I didn’t catch the hints or listen as well as I should have. I thought all was well until the email came, my friend felt better but I felt side-swiped. The third was trying to communicate with a loved one that left me feeling we were on different planets and both of us frustrated. It was like…what the heck…what is going on here…why does this keep happening?! Then the most amazing thing happened that gave me valuable insights on conflict which will stay with me forever.
Calm Seas Ahead
When there is a conflict with someone I care about, like the symptoms listed above, it affects me emotionally and physically. My body feels heavy, my heart hurts, I have trouble sleeping. Sound familiar? Conflict is like a stone my shoe I can’t ignore. Even so, the turmoil made me appreciate the positive effect meditation has had on my peace of mind. It clears the debris out of my brain to be able to see situations more clearly and calmly. So after taking a few deep breaths, reaching out, applying a little empathy, compassion AND hugging it out, each conflict was resolved. No blood was shed, peace restored, and the rock in my shoe is gone.
After the storm
During an extended trip to the beach I was meditating every day, taking long walks and pondering over what happened the previous few weeks. In each of these conflicts it was my heart that was affected the most. But after everything was resolved, not only did my heart not hurt anymore, my body felt lighter and my mind was free again. During one enlightening meditative walk on the beach I asked God to help me understand what lessons I needed to learn from these frictions. A warm glow ran through my body and surrounded my heart with a message that love and compassion is always the answer. Here’s what else I learned…
- Compassion and Empathy: This was my biggest and most important lesson. Getting caught up in my own busy life I can be insensitive to what someone else might be going through. It helps when I slow down enough to look at it from the other persons perspective with empathy and compassion. Putting ourselves in their shoes to understand what they may be feeling is really important. From now on I will listen more carefully with love and an open heart. Having a curious mind by asking questions for clarification can’t hurt either.
- Reach out: It didn’t work out to see any of my people in person so I spoke to them the old fashioned way, by phone. It’s scary to reach out to someone who’s not too happy with you for fear of being rejected. But please believe me, it’s worth the risk! If we are sincere and speak from our heart, that’s all we can do. Most of the time people want to be heard and will appreciate the effort. Face to face is best, but a phone call is good too. If either of those aren’t possible an email or text to get communication started might be necessary. Seemingly unsolvable conflicts are a different beast where counseling or mediation could help if the relationship is worth saving.
- Recognize we are all different in our emotional make-up: Another biggie for me was remembering that not everyone processes information the same way. What could be insulting to you might not be a big deal to me or visa versa. We love the people in our lives, warts and all, in good times and bad. As long as your emotional bank account with them isn’t in the red and the relationship is healthy overall, resolving conflicts in a positive way can strengthen those bonds. Assuming good will and giving our friends the benefit of the doubt can also go a long way to repair a disagreement.
- Hug it out: The next time you see the person you had the conflict with, try reconnecting with a great big hug. When I first met my daughter-in-law one of the things that impressed me most was her deep, sincere and heartfelt hugs. She is without a doubt the best hugger I know! During a busy day my husband and I will take a minute to stop for a reconnecting, heart-to-heart hug. A good hug is like a firm handshake, you know it’s sincere. Heartfelt hugs can do a lot to put our world back in balance and bring the light of love back into our lives.
Till next time…
Peace & Love ♥