GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
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