It is always a difficult time when conflicts arise. It’s usually a sign that someone is out of balance. If neither party is out of balance, conflicts resolve. If you are in a conflict, the first question to ask is, “Who is out of balance here? Is it me? Is it them? Is it both of us?” Of course, the obvious first response is that the other person is out of balance. It’s remarkable to see how long people can hold onto that perspective and how easily they can convince friends and loved ones that they are right, particularly if the other party has no voice.
How do you determine if you are the one out of balance? There are two places you can look for that answer. One is the state of your physiology and emotions. How do you feel in your body, particularly when you think of the situation? Is there tightness in your body? Does it feel like blood pressure increases? Does your heart beat faster? Do you feel stirred up? Do you feel anger or resentment? To feel saddened, hurt, or disappointed is in many situations understandable, normal, healthy, and in balance. To feel consumed by an emotion (afraid, mistrusting, abandoned, humiliated, betrayed, rageful, angry, hateful, fatalistic, crushed, devastated, annihilated, etc.) is a clear sign of imbalance.
Does your vision narrow? In other words, are you open to what friends and loved ones who witnessed and experienced the entire dynamic are telling you? Are they agreeing with you simply because you have only provided them with the perspective of your imbalance?
Are you striving to prove a point or win? Or are you looking for a way to do the right and honorable thing in the situation? Are you convinced that the other person is intentionally trying to wrong you? Have you projected motivations and attitudes upon the other party? Are you capable of being reflective regarding the situation? In these moments, self-honesty is very challenging, but also essential.
Deep inside, you know the truth, but it can be so difficult to access. It can be so easy to embrace the voice of imbalance. Ask yourself if you have ever felt those emotions before and in what situation. Also ask yourself, if you had to assign the role of adult and the role of a child acting out, who would you assign each role to, you or the other person? Can you feel yourself digging in your heels? Is your perspective more emotion-based or reason-based? You’ll have to look deeply here.
Keep in mind you can justify anything with the intellect. No doubt if you are out of balance, you already have. This is called rational-I-zation. If you lose the conflict, does it feel like you would be humiliated and outraged or simply treated unfairly? Humiliation and outrage often go along with some degree of emotional distortion as does anger and hatred.
Remember that a narrow viewpoint rewrites history. You will remember events through the eyes of your imbalance and not as you experienced them in the moment. Has your perspective of the same situation changed as your anger grew? Or, were you fine with that situation at one time and now, by virtue of a new physiological state, your viewpoint has become completely different? In other words, is the other individual the same person he ever was, behaving in the same manner he always has, and the shift was not in his behavior, but in your attitude or feelings? Have your demands of the other person become more controlling, limiting, and/or personally effacing? Are you more interested in punishing the other party or just achieving fairness? Are you open to healing the relationship or are you simply interested in winning? Have you pulled out all the stops in your behavior? In other words, have you abandoned the container of good manners? If the situation involves a close friend or loved one, can you still feel their love? Or is it overshadowed by a new perspective that they are nasty or evil? Do you feel duped, tricked, or is it you that is spelling out new terms?
How can you tell if you are genuinely in the right and it is the other person who is out of balance? Ask the following questions: Are you trying to do the right thing? Are you respecting the other person? Are you respecting yourself? Respecting yourself can more often be determined by the nature of your behavior than by looking for a justification of your perspective. In other words, are you behaving honorably and with dignity? Balance also includes some level of tolerance, but not to the point where you disrespect yourself. It is like a loving parent. You see the child is misbehaving, but still you maintain a mature and stable wisdom. Again, this is best determined by looking to your physiology. How do you feel in your body? Do you feel more like a loving parent or a hurt and angry child? Remember, when you are clinging to a rational-I-zation, your perspective will always be that you’re the parent, the one that is right. But if you feel into your body, it will tell the story from a place of deeper truth.
As with all things in life, truth lies in the gap between perspectives. These questions can only help you explore honestly if you are willing to do so honestly. If you insist upon digging in your heels, you will answer every one of these questions in a manner that makes you right. The path of self-honesty is not an easy one. Your friends and loved ones will help you, but you must allow their feedback without manipulating that relationship and forcing it to support your viewpoint. Love and friendship is as delicate as it is wonderful.
I encourage you to give conflicts the time, space, and attention necessary. In so doing, you will behave wisely. You will gain others’ respect. Remember, where there is mutual respect, relationships flourish. If either party is disrespectful, there is little that can be achieved until adequate time and space is given, allowing everyone to come back into balance. Where there is balance, there is respect. A parent shows respect for the misbehaving child without disrespecting himself. Life is all about people. How you hold your relationships with other people determines the quality of your life.
© Michael Mamas, 11/08