Nothing makes the heart ache more quickly or consistently than conflict with the people you care for and love. Some of us, have learned to ignore the pain of conflict, to pretend it doesn't exist. Others of us, have learned to call it out, confront it, speak our minds. Most of us, however, have learned some combination of silence, suppression, and confrontation.
In a conflict it means that another human being, who we may care about, may not see things the way we do. It may mean that they see the world differently, experience things differently. Live differently. This difference in perception may actually block us from getting something we want or it may only "seem" to block our way. It often causes some fear that we will not get what we want or need.
In order for conflict to exist, we must believe on some level that the way another person is living, being...is wrong, and that the way they are, is hurting us. At the bottom of every conflict is the belief that something or someone should not be the way they are. In this sense, all conflict is willfulness. It is a refusal to accept humanity, people, life on life's terms. It's a refusal to accept the human being and all it's consequences as it is. This is not the same as accepting that everything is okay. Accepting what is, simply sets the true course, replacing the course we would wish to take, a course that is not reality and will only go in circles.
There have been many times in my life, when I felt a victim to someone else. I felt a victim to my ex husband, to banks, to my current husband, and to my employer. I felt wronged, misunderstood, unloved. Alone.
But as I worked my way through the truths of life...and began confronting my judgments for what they were, I found that everything was exactly the way it was meant to be. As I worked my way through the pain, I was able to see that it was always me that I was afraid to face. In every conflict, every ounce of my anger was some part of me that I did not want to see or did not want to have to change.
For years my mission has been "peace". My seeking peace is not because I am a "peaceful" person. I rebuke that notion with fierceness. Nope, I sought "peace" because I was a conflicted, angry person. Perhaps on some level I could see the futility of my rage, but I felt powerless at times to control it, or to change it. I didn't cause it entirely. I inherited it honestly enough, as we all do, but it was my job to fix it. This is why I am drawn to the concept of peace. This is why it is the essence of my life's work. Not because I have it easily or that I was "born" into it.
In my journey I had to admit to myself that I had rage. That I felt out of control at times, that I could identify far too well with those who I wanted to judge for their violence. I often talked about being a pacifist but have felt so conflicted at times with my own behavior. I could see the sin of war, see the killing of babies, see the killing of wives and children as wrong, but could barely stop myself from wanting to run over my husband with the car one night during a fight.
I believed in my heart of hearts that yelling and screaming at children only contributes to more rage, less accountability and more fear. I know this to be true, but it wouldn't stop me from yelling at my children when I was in fear, or angry. I had a hard time, validating my own damage first, the damage I had done, and accepting the truth about the fear, that I was continuing to perpertuate as discipline.
At some point, in order to change, I had to learn to be accountable for all my buttons. All the issues that put me over the edge, all the ideas in my head that would convince me that I am right and humanity is wrong. It was so foreign a notion to me, that I would instead seek agreement or shared truths, without having to give up on my principles or morals. That in doing so, I would actually be living closer to my beliefs. It felt inauthentic at first. Why, the only way I could have "peace" would be to lie, or to be disingenuous. I would have to be "weak" and stop "fighting" for what is "right". This seemed a way I had lived most of my life and nothing at all new. I had no desire to follow through with this concept.
But what I have found, and continue to grapple with, by the way, is the idea that in order for me to transcend or transform my rage, I would first have to accept it. I would have to come face to face with every belief that sent me on a tirade and made me feel "entitled" or righteous. I would have to be willing to "see" the ideas that would feed my victim and send me into anger. I could not get to peace by pushing those ideas away because if I did that, as I had tried to do for many years, that anger, those ideas would just "pile up" and explode in some "surprise" that was uncontrolled and sometimes uncalled for by even myself. I had to "accept" the sometimes irrational things that I was telling myself about life. "It's not fair". "It's not right". "It's disrespectful". "It's rude". "It's mean". "It's wrong". "They are wrong".
The answer would not come from "pretending" I was at peace. Nor would it come from simply believing in "peace". "Peace" is not Santa Clause. What I learned was that I would have to "do" something to find it. And quite honestly, I still sometimes wonder if it's "worth" the work. Can't I just hold on to my resentments? Can't I just keep them running like a banner in my brain? Yes. I can. I can and I have. But what I have found is that I feel better when I don't. I feel better when I take the time to see the truth. It's like a breath of fresh air when I find it. My body relaxes. My mind quiets, the arguments and ruminations stop.
For instance, several years ago, I was laid off from my job. A job I had invested 12 years or more, of my life. It felt personal because much of the structure of this job had been created by me, had been my idea. In the end, my vision was rejected. At first I thought the things we all think "they will regret this". Or, "they will see they made a mistake". Or "what they choose to do, surely will not work". But of course, those thoughts only fueled a negative feeling inside of me, with the essence of that thinking being "they were wrong".
They were not wrong. Peace comes when I accept that my vision was not for them. It's not for everyone. It is my life purpose, but it may not be shared by anyone BUT me. I don't have to convince the world. I just need to follow my purpose. Years later in a successful practice of my own, I have found this to be so true. My purpose was right for me. It's all mine. I don't need to convince anyone else. I share, about it, in case someone else sees the world the way I do. But if they don't, this is okay. I get to follow my passion regardless of what others want to do. No one can stop me. It was my fear, that I couldn't do it alone, that made me work so hard, for so many years to get others to see what I saw. I don't have to wear myself out that way anymore.
The same holds true for me in my personal life with my husband and with my kids, and friends. It doesn't matter if they share my vision. It doesn't matter if they see life the way I do. There is joy in seeing all their shades of life. I may not agree with all of them all the time, but I might find parts, or parcles of their truth that affirm my own truth. If my kids don't want to clean their room, I am more successful as a parent when I "see" why. And when I also "see" why it helps to have a clean room. When I understand the kernal of truth in both sides. There is peace. My husband who yells out of fear that they won't do what he wants them to do one day, does not understand why they do what I say. Today I know that when they follow my lead, it is because I am leading by my own behavior, and because I accept the truth of both sides. Sometimes they are tired, uninspired. Sometimes they like to have a clean room. We negotiate on this truth.
Another example from my life is that my husband is a very anxious man. Angry, full of fear about what tomorrow and life will bring. How can I get joy when I am with someone so full of fear? That same fear creeps up on me from time to time...and he, his behavior, his fear affirms exactly what fear does to me. I see it in him. It helped me change my parenting. It helped me be more of who I wanted to be. He is a blessing in my life, not a curse. Not a punishment. He is the colors of the world that help me see myself. Just because he is feeling negative, does not mean that I have to feel the same way, no, in fact, it helps me stand more firmly in my reality with compassion for his.
Conflict, anger, is an opportunity to face some part of yourself and realign it with reality. I have found that I cannot skip the work of this by ignoring my anger, or refusing to face myself and my judgments. I can only be free when I face those things I tell myself that fuel my anger. What is it I believe I have a "right" to be angry about. And does this anger serve to build me a better life? Is it valid? Or in believing that someone else causes my anger, am I disempowering myself, keeping myself from changing the one thing that would set me free?
I have found that when I am most angry it is because I am afraid to face a block in my own life. And my fear, not anger at another is really what keeps me from being all I can be, in this moment. My anger only serves to distract me from the job at hand. Many times, I fear that I am not "right" most often when I feel certain that I AM right!! I hate to find out that I may not hold the truth in the palm of my hands at all times. So scary to face this truth, for someone who used her brain to deal with the fears of life. I don't have to be right, I don't have to know everything, I don't have to blame others for my unhappiness, I can hold myself accountable and be a successful parent, entreprenuer and friend. I don't have to live my life the way others want me to live it. I don't have to be perfect. I can find peace in conflict, if I choose.
Blessings everyone...May you find the path to peace and the freedom that comes with it in this New Year.