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Taking sides—-Being Authentic

Great Morning Beloved!

Taking sides—-Being Authentic

Do you sit on the fence when in discussion with others about an important topic or do you choose for or against?
Sometimes, fence-sitting is acceptable. When, for instance, your children come to you in the midst of a heated disagreement between the two and ask for you to determine who is right.

Proverbs 18:17 states: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him”.
You, as the parent, must be undecided until both sides are heard. Only then can a determination as to the right and proper course of action be taken.

If the topic of discussion is an important one regarding the next president or congress person, for example, then one cannot be a fence-sitter…they will have to choose before entering the voting booth.

There are many times when one must not sit undecided on the fence. If we look back in history, the Holocaust, is a perfect example. Many of the nations, it has been proven, turned a blind eye as thousands of innocent people, men, women and children, were killed by the German guards who were their task-makers.

That is fence-sitting.

A quote from Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and writer states: “We must take sides; neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”

Does that make sense to you? Think about it.

It’s the same as not voting. If one holds their vote, then they have no right to complain about the results of the casting.

Over the years, many of us have seen things and wondered why? How could that possibly happen? What is the purpose of war, starvation, destruction of the earth, and so many other things that have happened through my 70 years!

And this is where one of my favorite statements would be recited. “What is mine to do?”

My class has heard this many, many, times. Usually as a challenge to them while we are discussing some of the things that are happening in our world.

I believe all this leads us to question our authenticity. Who are we, as we travel through each day?

Every day we encounter ‘choice-points’. These choice-points come along and prompt us to ask which direction we are going to go.

Sometimes it’s a simple thing. But, as we are developing and fine tuning our integrity, many times it’s not so easy to make a choice.

Those people in Germany during World War II often had to choose between keeping their families safe, or fed or warm and turning their backs on neighbors and friends. Thankfully, there were many who took a chance and aided many Jews especially, and especially children.

People like Oskar Schindler, a businessman, Carl Lutz, a diplomat, and Johan van Hulst, a teacher. These three man alone saved hundreds, maybe thousands combined, of Jews from the Germans. They each had a choice-point and determined to do what was theirs to do.

Justin Tanis, from the Pacific School of Religion tells us, “God seeks our authenticity.”

Authenticity, or knowing one’s thoughts and feelings and acting in accordance with them, is virtually synonymous with “being yourself.”

Currently, in mainstream counseling psychology, authenticity is viewed as the most fundamental aspect of well-being in that it is not just a component or prerequisite to achieve well-being but that it is the very essence of well-being.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, is attributed with saying, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Consider that statement a moment….says something yet how many of us have strived through our years to be someone else than our true self?

Individuals considered authentic are those who generally strive to align their actions with their core values and beliefs with the hope of discovering, and then acting in sync with, their “true selves.”

There is debate over whether people actually possess an innate self and need to uncover it, or whether one’s true self is flexible and determined by the choices they make throughout their lives. Authenticity was long thought to be too difficult to define and measure.

Then in 2000, Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman developed their Authenticity Inventory, comprised of four key factors: awareness, unbiased processing, behavior, and relational orientation. Using this tool, they found that being authentic can provide a host of benefits, including a strong sense of self-worth and self-competence, a greater ability to follow through on goals, and more effective coping skills.

Being authentic involves the ability to be introspective and understand what motivates oneself. Such accurate self-knowledge can be a double-edged sword, though, if it reveals uncomfortable truths or weaknesses that one would rather not admit. However, advocates of authenticity argue that in the long run, it’s better to be accurate than biased in the long run.

Being authentic can also put a person at odds with their larger peer group if their emerging perspective is an unpopular one. However, authentic people wouldn’t look to others for approval or surrender to the social pressures of what they should or shouldn’t do. The validation they derive from within

Is authenticity a good value? Yes authenticity/honesty is good. It keeps you from misleading yourself into misbegotten ethics and allows you to answer to yourself at ease. It’s not easy to do but the hard work makes life easier

Do you know who you truly are? If someone were to ask you who is your authentic self, could you respond honestly?

I think most of us could touch the surface, at least, of who our authentic self was. But when we got past the first layers, what would we say?

Here is something I found while researching this topic, see if it helps:
Get comfortable. Take a few cleansing breaths.

Now; begin by reflecting upon your values. What is the most important to you in life? What do you value? Where does your sense of right and wrong come from? Spend the next few moments thinking about your values.


The values you have been thinking of make-up part of the core of who you are. If you are being true to your values, these core beliefs will drive your behavior.

It feels good to behave in ways that are consistent with your values. For example, if honesty is something you value, this could be reflected in your life by being truthful. If you value your family, perhaps your life reflects this in the time you spend with family members.

Think about how your values can be a part of your day-to-day life.


Now consider what else makes you who you are. Finding your authentic self involves learning who you truly are. Your authentic self is the real you, the person you are truly meant to be. Your authentic self is the person you are at the core, the person you can be if nothing holds you back.

Imagine the person you believe yourself to be right now. It’s okay if you aren’t quite sure who you are…just picture yourself going about the things you usually do in a typical day. Imagine that you are watching yourself…observing yourself going about your usual activities.

See yourself getting up in the morning…going about your day…imagine the things that you do in a typical day. See yourself doing these activities.

Picture this person…you…standing in an empty room. Imagine watching this person…observe…now imagine you could strip away all the things that hold you back from your full potential. Imagine self-doubt dissolving…being replaced with confidence and self-assurance. Picture this person before you, and imagine all the things that get in the way of success…such as circumstances, lack of resources, lack of forgiveness, illness, baggage from the past…anything that is holding this person back in any way at all…

See these problems dissolving…disappearing…going away…

Now imagine this person, standing in the empty room. What is left? Who is this person when all those barriers are stripped away?

This person is you. Imagine who you are at the core…the pure character that is left when there is nothing to get in the way of complete self-expression.

You may only have a vague picture in your mind right now…let’s allow that picture to come into focus…becoming more clear…

Think of your motivations…what motivates you? What drives your behavior? What catches your interest…or has caught your interest in the past? What propels you to action?

Think about your personality and character traits…the characteristics that are left when all barriers are removed, and all fears have gone away. At your fullest potential, your simplest form…with no fears…what traits do you have? Think about your energy…are you laid back and calm, or are you energetic? Think about your other characteristics…

Are you introverted or extroverted?

Quiet or talkative?

Are you creative?

Are you practical?

What sorts of things do you appreciate?

What do you admire?

What do you like?

Imagine something that makes you feel happy…what is it?

Think of some things you enjoy…things that you like to do…

Think about all the characteristics of the person who is left when all barriers and fears are removed.


Now let’s create a different picture. Imagine yourself as a young child, in a happy moment. See the potential in this child. Who is this young person? What makes this child who he or she is?


Think about the characteristics that you share with this child. In what ways are you similar? In what ways does the current you differ from this child? Think about how you have learned and grown since the time you were a small child.


Now picture yourself as the child…see the world through your younger self’s eyes.

What did you want to be when you grew up? What hopes did you have for your future self? What dreams did you have as a child?

The hopes and dreams you had as a child were probably related in some way to your authentic self. Something about your dreams was connected to a part of your true self. What do these aspirations say about who you are? What personal characteristics of yours are related to your childhood dreams?

For example, if as a child you dreamed about becoming an astronaut, you probably have some personality traits that relate to this dream…such as being adventurous, curious, analytical…

Think about your own childhood dreams and see what these dreams say about who you are.


Now create one final picture in your mind. Imagine, in as much detail as you can, the person you want to be. Imagine your ideal self…

How would this person behave? What does this person, your authentic self, value? What motivates this ideal self? What personal characteristics are present in this ideal version of you? Imagine all the details of the person you most want to be.


The image in your mind right now, of this ideal person, is you. This is your authentic self. This is who you are. At the core, beneath all of life’s getting in the way…this is you.

Spend a few moments with this image of your authentic self.

Now allow yourself to step inside this image, and fully become this person. Become who you are. For this moment, just be…simply be your authentic self.

Feel a sense of calm and serenity…secure in who you are…knowing who you are. This is you. Your authentic self.
You can take this authentic self with you…allowing this true essence of you to shine through in everyday life. Allow your values, personality, and motivations to shine though…to guide your behavior…to make up who you are.
You have always been this person…you always will be your authentic self…a positive, confident person. A person you like and appreciate. Underneath the challenges, the baggage, the demands of living life…this is the real you that will always be with you.


It’s time to reawaken now…to conclude this exercise…

Keep the image of your authentic self with you as you go about the rest of your day. Express this true self…and allow you to simply be you.

Wiggle your fingers, waking up your hands and arms…

Move your toes, allowing your feet and legs to wake up…

Feel your muscles reawakening…and your whole-body filling with energy.

Open your eyes and sit quietly for a moment while you reorient to your surroundings…

Welcome back….let that settle with you and share with someone if you wish to go deeper.


Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love – Part 3 In Life


Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love – Part 3 In Life

Welcome back to our third and final part in Agreeing & Disagreeing in Love. From some of your comments these last two weeks, many of you have experienced a moment where what was being presented resonated with you.
That’s good…in fact, that’s GREAT! The whole point of coming to Unity is to hear the message for the day & to put it into practice. This IS Practical Christianity after all.

That was the point when Charles & Myrtle Fillmore started their study sessions on Sunday afternoons and during the week. It was to put into practice what they were discussing in churches all over their area.
And that is what I pray for you…to have something touch some place inside you, to resonate with you and for you to go on your way throughout your week and see how it can be put into practice.

So, we talked about Agreeing & Disagreeing in Love through our thoughts and our actions so far. Keep in mind, if you wish to review any of the talks, they are posted online at my webpage: Metaphysical Food for Thought. I always post them on FB too.

This last piece of the series is Agreeing and Disagreeing in love as in our life. And the 1st commitment is:
1. Be steadfast in Love – Be firm in our commitment to seek a mutual solution; be steadfast in acting out of Principle (do the right thing); be hard on issues, soft on people. Be on your card. That’s your integrity.
If you recall from last week, we mentioned that we be willing to negotiate a solution that works for all. If we are ‘on our card’, coming from our authentic self, we have left ego behind and are willing to see another way, a third option.
Here are those steps again:
Be willing to negotiate – Work through the disagreement constructively.
• Identify issues, interests, and needs of both (rather than take positions.)
• Generate a variety of options for meeting both parties’ needs. (rather than defending one’s own way).
• Evaluate options by how they meet the needs and satisfy the interests of all sides (not just one side’s values).
• Collaborate in working out a joint solution (so both sides gain, both sides grow and win).
• Cooperate with the emerging agreement (accept the possible, not demand your ideal).
• Reward each other for each step forward, toward agreement (celebrate mutuality).

The second commitment is:
2. Be open to accept skilled help. If we cannot reach agreement among ourselves, we will use those with gifts and training in peacemaking.

Yes, there is training in peacemaking and if it is needed to resolve an issue, then that is way better than letting things continue to simmer inside each of those involved.

We even have a couple of possible classes we could present to everyone on peacemaking and getting along with others. Maybe we will look into one of these classes to present. One of those classes is based on the book, “The I of the Storm”.

This is a suggestion from that book; a 4-step process that will take you from victim to victor. Feeling like a victim is often a part of the conflict.

 1st step-Look into the mirror and love. When a situation arises that looks as though it is against you, be willing to see it as a mirror showing you the pieces you believe are missing in you. Ask yourself, “What resource do I believe is missing in me?” If we knew our connectiveness to Spirit, we would not feel defensive or attacked.

 2nd step-Bless the situation or person. To bless means to endow a person or situation with the capacity to be a source of good in your life. When we bless something, we dismantle the belief that anything can come between our good and us.

We’ve heard that to Bless the situation or person is vital to conflict resolution.

 3rd step-Do the right thing. Do good. This means letting go of our need to be right and to focus on demonstrating wholeness and worth. Our purpose in our relationship is to find a greater sense of worth and to be an avenue for God’s love. This also means we must be willing to take ownership and claim our part in the-disharmony in the relationship.

 4th step-Set you and your enemy free by praying. Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us. We can do this by trusting that the relationship is there to gift us. “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” True forgiveness is embracing the other person and recognizing that any sense of hurt is from a place of separateness and isolation. Prayer allows us to shift our attention to our center. When we pray, we lift ourselves and the situation into the peace and serenity of God.

What the Big Unity folks are telling us here is that when we have done the processes of discussing, and listening, and resolution suggesting and we have failed to come to a place where everyone involved is accepting the resolution, then a trained peacemaker can be brought into the discussion to help to come to a conclusion.

Once again, our main purpose here is to come to a mutual agreement. No one wishes to carry a disagreement with them through life….and yet, that is exactly what some of us have done.
Well, it’s time to have it resolved for all those who are involved with the issue.

The third commitment is:
3. Trust the community – Trust the wisdom of community and if we cannot reach agreement or experience reconciliation, we will turn the decision over to the congregation or seek assistance from the Ministry for Peacemaking.
• In one-to-one or small group disputes, this may mean allowing others to arbitrate.
• In congregational disputes, this may mean implementing constitutional decision- making processes (membership vote) when peacemaking assistance is unable to facilitate reconciliation.
Jesus tells us to trust community in Matthew 18:15-17, saying if you have gone to the other and cannot find a resolution, go again with one or two others to aid in the discussion.

Our 4th and final commitment is:
4. Be committed to peace making and the demonstration of Principle rather than resort to courts of law.

In the time of Jesus, there were ‘judges’ at the gates of the cities where the locals could bring their grievances to be resolved. These ‘judges’ were way less expensive and most villagers and commoners would use them as opposed to going to the courts, where it could cost much more to resolve an issue and could last days, week and even more.
A peacemaker helps us make peace with the others. According to the Enneagram, a peacemaker is: Type 9. Calm; collected demeanor; Ability to diffuse conflict with ease; Zen-like presence; Mellow and soothing voice; Wide circle of acquaintances; Generally liked by most people.
Anyone you know?

Once you see your duty as a peacemaker in the world, you’ll be looking for ways to build bridges between people and God and then to build them between persons.

By definition, a bridge can’t be one-sided. It must extend between two sides or it can never function. And once built, it continues to need support on both sides, or it will collapse. In any relationship our first

responsibility is to see that our own side has a solid base. But we also have the responsibility to help the one on the other side build his base. Both must be built on righteousness and truth or the bridge will not stand.

“Finally, a peacemaker finds a point of agreement. God’s truth and righteousness must never be compromised or weakened. But we are to contend without being contentious, to disagree without being disagreeable, and to confront without being abusive. The peacemaker should speak the truth in love.” (Eph. 4:15).

So, we’ve learned to:
Accept Conflict – Acknowledge that conflict is a normal part of our life in the Center.
Go to the other
To listen with all senses, Be quick to listen, Be slow to judge
Be willing to negotiate
Remember to pray
And today we add, Be steadfast in Love
Be open to accept skilled help
Trust the community
Be committed to peace making

And James 1:19 tells us easily and clearly – My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love – Part 2 In Action


Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love – Part 2 In Action

Talking about agreeing and disagreeing in love is a perfect topic for this time in our year. We are about to plan for the 2020 year by conducting our Congregational Meeting after the regular Service today.

Sometimes people come to meetings with their own agendas. They want things as they see it. It might be that they don’t want things to change. Or maybe we aren’t changing fast enough.

Maybe they have ideas for growth that others do not agree with. Or for fundraising? Or how the Service is run?
There are many topics of possible disagreement in any group, including ours.

This is where we are asked to “Be on our Card.” We each have one. And Unity Spiritual Center’s card is our Mission,
Vision & Values.

So, I am hoping our discussions will help all of us be on that card and aid us as we walk through our plans for 2020.

Last week we took a look at the first part of Agreeing & Disagreeing in Love. I think we can all agree that conflict can be a part of everyone’s life, and it is all in how we handle that conflict as to how we come out in the end.

It’s the react; or respond choice. And that choice can be a heaven or hell choice. Reaction is reflex and there are times when quick reflexes are good, like catching a child from sticking their hand in a flame.

But reacting is probably not a good thing when in conflict with someone. In a situation like that, responding is much better…thought before action.

And what’s the difference.? Well, the example of the child going to place their hand too near a fire is a place where reacting, instinct taking over. And in the case of conflict, whether it is within yourself over traffic or with another individual, responding is the way to go. It’s thought out. It is a step or two away from the emotion involved. A pause. And it has a better chance of finding the 3rd option in the situation, making it a win-win.

So, in this series, there are three Commitments. Last week we discussed the first Commitment:

Accept Conflict – Acknowledge that conflict is a normal part of our life.

If I remember correctly, most of us admitted to experiencing conflict in our lives. And I think, we had a good look at what may be some of our part in that conflict, through some of the questions we asked during last weeks’ Message:

How do you keep your cool?

What habits would you personally, be changing to resolve conflicts?

How important is conflict resolution in any relationship?

I hope you had a chance to contemplate these questions as they pertain to yourself.

So, this week we would like to look at some ways to aid us in our responses to conflict. We touched on a few last week:

Recognize your triggers and patterns

Confront the issue – not the person

Affirm the Truth – Endeavor to see conflict as symptomatic of what’s missing in our intention to create authentic community

Commit to Prayer – Examine where we are coming from and release our need to be right.

Our Commitments for this week are:

Go to the other – Go directly to those with whom we disagree; avoid behind-the-back criticism.
What does this mean? It means if we must apologize to someone for something we mistakenly did, we go to them and say our apologies.

If we disagree with someone, we do the same thing. We go to them, not all puffed up but in the spirit of humility. Our Leadership Training from Big Unity tells us to go in gentleness, patience, and humility. Own our part in the conflict instead of blaming others and acting as if the others are responsible for how we are behaving.

This is a place where some of us may have an issue…to own our part in the conflict. We often feel justified in feeling what we do. Maybe even feel the victim. We need to find another way to look at things.

Part of the issue may be we haven’t been trained to be active listeners.
What does that mean?

It means fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker.
Active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening – otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.

Interest can be conveyed to the speaker by using both verbal and non-verbal messages such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling, agreeing by saying ‘Yes’ or simply ‘Mmm hmm’ to encourage them to continue. By providing this ‘feedback’ the person speaking will usually feel more at ease and therefore communicate more easily, openly and honestly.

Listening is not something that just happens (that is hearing), listening is an active process in which a conscious decision is made to listen to and understand the messages of the speaker.

Listeners should remain neutral and non-judgmental, this means trying not to take sides or form opinions, especially early in the conversation. Active listening is also about patience – pauses and short periods of silence should be accepted.

Listeners should not be tempted to jump in with questions or comments every time there are a few seconds of silence. Active listening involves giving the other person time to explore their thoughts and feelings, they should, therefore, be given adequate time for that.

Here’s a graphic that may help: pic
1. Be attentive – when someone is talking about the situation that has caused the conflict, try to not let your mind wander. Especially, do not start on your comeback when you have not let the other complete their statements.

2. Ask open-ended questions – Pic a question that requires a full answer using the person’s own knowledge and/or feelings about the topic. Open-ended questions or statements begin with the following words: why, how, what, describe, explain, tell me about…, or what do you think about…

3. Ask probing questions. Use them for further clarification to an open-ended question. Probing for completeness. Once a complete, clear answer has been given to an open-ended question, you can ask more questions to get additional information. Examples of questions that probe for clarity are “What else do you like?” or “What other reason did you have?”

4. Request clarification. If you feel you do not understand fully what is being said, use yourself as part of the question, not the person you are speaking with: “I” statements instead of “you” statements… “I need you to…” versus “You need to…”

5. Paraphrase means you want to rephrase what the other said to ensure you understand what’s been said by asking, “Is this what you said or meant”

6. Be attuned to and reflect feelings – people can be hurt, upset, angry; and we must all be aware of how the other, and ourselves, are reacting to the discussion.

7. Summarize what was said to ensure complete understanding.

Be quick to listen – Listen carefully, summarize and check out what is heard before responding. Seek as much to understand as to be understood

Be slow to judge – Suspend judgements, end enrolling others in our position, discard threats, and act in a non-defensive and non-reactive way.

Refrain from engaging in “parking lot” conversations. This means discussing the misunderstanding with another instead of the person involved in a gossiping way. This only causes more dis-harmony and nothing is resolved.
Be willing to negotiate – Work through the disagreement constructively.

• Identify issues, interests, and needs of both (rather than take positions.)
• Generate a variety of options for meeting both parties’ needs. (rather than defending one’s own way).
• Evaluate options by how they meet the needs and satisfy the interests of all sides (not just one side’s values).
• Collaborate in working out a joint solution (so both sides gain, both sides grow and win).
• Cooperate with the emerging agreement (accept the possible, not demand your ideal).
• Reward each other for each step forward, toward agreement (celebrate mutuality).
with the ‘other’ will help you when it’s time for the discussion. Praying may help you ‘see’ another way to look at the situation, and possibly change your view or give you a different insight to what actually happened.

Then, take a breath, and make time and effort to resolve the issue with the other person involved. If nothing seems to be coming to a conclusion, ask for another to help you both ‘see’ another way…the third option.

Remember, you always have help if you need it, you only need to ask….

Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love – Part 1 – In Thought


Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love – Part 1 – In Thought

Did you ever get mad at someone? Of course, you do! That’s that human side of us all that sneaks through our spiritual being and reminds us that, yes, we are experiencing a human emotion.

Maybe you’re in the middle of a conversation or meeting and you start to feel your blood boil? That vein in your neck starts to bulge. Your face turns a little red. What do you do when this happens? Do you immediately look for a quick getaway? Do you quit listening because you are too busy thinking of a great comeback?

As long as everything is going along smoothly, it’s easy to be considerate and respectful of another person’s needs. They are in no way interfering with our own. But the emergence of a conflict can changes all that–now we can feel threatened, anxious and angry. The same person whom we enjoyed working with yesterday now seems like an adversary. That’s because of our vast, past experience with conflict, most of which was negative.

We have a negative attitude toward conflict primarily because we haven’t learned constructive ways to deal with it–in fact, the converse is true: we have learned destructive ways of handling conflict. As children, as students and as employees (and too often as spouses) we have experienced losing in a conflict because parents, teachers and bosses use/d their power to win at our expense. Even though we know the feelings of resentment, anger, dislike, even hostility that we experience as a result of losing, the win-lose posture is deeply ingrained and when we get in positions where we have power over people, we often choose to win at their expense.

A great deal of research shows the damaging effects that win-lose conflict resolution has on interpersonal relationships. It creates distance, separation, dislike, even hatred. It’s the main reason people leave their jobs for new ones and marriages break up.

How do you keep your cool?

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. And when we have that human experience, it can include all kinds of emotions.
And we all have experienced, I’m sure, times when we disagree with someone, may it be someone we know or even love or someone we meet at Unity or another gathering, or work. It could be anywhere.

There are times when confronting an issue is just the right thing to do.

Maybe you have made a mistake and need to acknowledge it. Doing so demonstrates integrity and can help you further your relationships.

But if we are going to make solid attempts to be like Jesus, our way-shower, ….where love is the answer because that’s what we are – LOVE, then we need ways to connect with the person or persons that we are having a disagreement with.

So, this discussion is about some Commitments we can use when we disagree with someone within our Congregation. And they may help outside the Congregation too.

This three-week series is about ways to aid us in these types of situations.

Our first Commitment is:
Accept Conflict – Acknowledge that conflict is a normal part of our life in the Center.

Conflict is a common, inevitable part of life. It exists because people don’t always get along or agree. Because conflict is a normal part of everyone’s life, conflict resolution, or the ability to resolve conflicts effectively, is a crucial skill for everyone to have.

Many people have a negative definition in mind when it comes to the word conflict, and they certainly don’t want to deal with it. This is the dictionary’s definition: a fight, battle, or struggle, especially a prolonged struggle; strife; controversy; quarrel: a conflict of ideas.

Ever have any of these?

I’m pretty sure we all have at one time or another, maybe not so much lately as we are working on our journey to self-realization.

But, did you know that some types of conflict can actually be beneficial? Healthy conflict can lead to better relationships, increased confidence, greater respect from others, career development, and harmony within your office or home.

Can you see that?

But on the flip side, conflict can also be damaging. If handled ineffectively, conflict can quickly turn into personal dislike, and even lead to a breakdown of relationships. Has that happened to any of you? Has to me….

A common response to conflict is avoidance. Most people say they just don’t like confrontation …it makes them uncomfortable and sometimes, unnecessary emotions can come to the surface.

Have you ever heard someone say, “They don’t like confrontation as they avoid a situation or person?”

We can realize that most people would prefer to just avoid the situation just like many of us. Maybe it will just go away. The discomfort is natural. The key is, don’t let that feeling make you a victim.

Issues become more difficult with time. Problems are much easier to resolve if you address them early. Do you agree?

There are times when confronting an issue is just the right thing to do. Maybe you have made a mistake and need to acknowledge it. Doing so demonstrates integrity and can help you further your relationships. Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this?

Often, we avoid the situation until our integrity say, “Get off your butt and take care of this before you do any damage to your wellbeing!”

Everyone experiences conflict and has a choice about whether to resolve it effectively. We always have a choice, and when those choice points come up, we are making heaven or hell choices. When conflict is resolved effectively, it leads to many benefits, such as accomplishing goals and strengthening relationships.
Reaching conflict resolution can be difficult because it requires individuals to learn how to do things differently. This means they must change their habits and how they relate to dealing with conflict.
What habits would you personally, be changing to resolve conflicts?

The good news is that you can make simple changes and start resolving conflicts effectively. You can improve your assertion skills and discover the many benefits of conflict resolution. We’ll talk more about that next week.

One thing you can do is recognize your triggers and patterns. If you don’t like conflict, you may find yourself becoming quiet, sulking, or demonstrating non-verbal signals which may only fuel the fire. Stand or sit upright.
Make eye contact and speak in a confident tone. This helps demonstrate that you aren’t going to simply become prey to an overbearing personality.
A simple but not necessarily easy thing to do is to Confront the issue – not the person. Begin by using “I” statements instead of “you” statements. For example, “I need you to…” versus “You need to…” It makes it less personal.
How conflicts get resolved is the critical factor in any relationship. In fact, it is the most critical factor in determining whether a relationship will be healthy or unhealthy, mutually satisfying or unsatisfying, friendly or unfriendly, deep or shallow, intimate or cold.
As most of us are aware, there is an alternative to the win-lose posture. It’s often been called “win-win” or “no-lose” because the goal is to find a solution to the conflict that meets the needs of both people. Resolving conflicts this way requires three important attitudes and behaviors:
1) the attitude that conflict in general presents the opportunity for constructive change,
2) the willingness to engage in the process of mutually searching for a solution that meets the needs of both people,
3) the communication and problem-solving skills that it takes to make this win-win method work.

Too often, people want to resolve conflicts this way, but either are not truly willing in their heart of hearts to work for a mutually acceptable solution or do not have the skills required to work together to find one. When this occurs, the win-win method is doomed to failure.

Conflict resolution requires individuals to assert themselves while respecting others. It also requires them to negotiate in order to solve problems and find solutions. All these components of conflict resolution can build stronger relationships.

Still don’t like confrontation. Concentrate on how good you will feel after the issue is addressed. Even if you don’t like the conflict, getting it out in the open and hopefully resolved should provide a sense of relief and help to reduce anxiety.
If you already dislike conflict, you probably always will. Believe it or not, conflict management can be an invaluable tool leading to greater self-esteem, personal growth, and better relationships.

Recognizing and accepting that conflict is a part of our human life is a step-in learning how to handle it when it shows up in your relationships.

Affirm the Truth – Endeavor to see conflict as symptomatic of what’s missing in our intention to create authentic community. Peacemaking is creating a pathway to God.

And of course, part of this commitment is to:
Commit to Prayer – Examine where we are coming from and release our need to be right. Acknowledge all parties have needs and to pray for win/win solutions (no prayers for my success or for the other to change.)

Part 2 next week: Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love – In Action