UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young
• Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict – alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence. – Dorothy Thompson
When there is conflict, there is polarity. Two opposing beliefs or perspectives create this polarity when egos hold on to their position.
We see or experience this all the time. Individuals can be intensely focused on what the other person has done or is doing wrong. Criticism and judgment flow easily. It is so obvious that the other person is the problem. Huge amounts of energy go into talking with others about it or playing things out over and over in one’s head.
This creates stress, anxiety, anger and resentment within the individual, which can spill over into other areas of life. Ultimately, it can affect one’s health, resulting in both minor and major illnesses.
Externally, it creates tension and conflict in relationships. Further, it stalls any forward progress and the negative patterns become more and more entrenched. At this point, even the smallest thing can set off the conflict again.
Witness the American political system where the supposedly greatest country in the world cannot get anything done. So entrenched in polarity, the politicians cannot even summon the objectivity to be embarrassed.
We can all see it and acknowledge how ridiculous it is, but we may not so readily see our part in creating similar roadblocks in our own lives. This is because ego has a blind spot. It cannot see its own role in creating polarity as it only sees that it is right and the other is wrong.
This is ultimately a no-win because one ego is never going to submit to the perspective of another. Progress can only come when we are able to transcend the limited view of our own ego and attempt to see the bigger picture. From this perspective, there is my view and your view and we are each entitled to our own opinion, but now we must figure out how we are going to work with that.
The key is in honouring the other person and granting that his or her viewpoint is as valid for them as ours is for us, even if you both disagree. Nothing good ever comes in trying to prove another wrong.
“Let’s find a solution” is an invitation to join forces, be on the same team and work together to find a resolution about which both can feel okay. The problem can be solved and at the same time the relationship is strengthened. There is mutual respect and trust, which paves the way for the productive resolution of future issues.
It is pretty simple. If I keep opposing you, I am widening the distance between us. If I sincerely listen to you and indicate I want you to be happy too and am willing to work on sorting things out, I strengthen our relationship and level of closeness.
Our body can be a good indicator of how we are doing. If we feel contracted, angry and stressed, we are coming at the issue the wrong way. If we feel relieved and good about our communication, we are on track. The ego way just keeps us stuck. Transcending ego and working towards cooperative solutions grows wisdom. This is clearly beneficial and sorely needed on both the individual and global level.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change hypnosis CDs and new Creating Healthy Relationships series, visit www.gwen.ca. See display ad this issue.