We Are All One
What was your reaction to that word? If you felt tense, you’re not alone. Conventional thinking teaches us that when upsets occur, conflict or withdrawing to avoid a conflict are the only responses.
My parents never confronted their upsets and my mother and sister constantly argued. But, it was not just from my home that I got my ideas about upsets. In the media, at school and in politics upsets were “do or die” battles. The strong won and the weak either slunk away or lost the fight.
For me, upsets became inextricably entwined with humiliation, loss, pain, yelling, and feeling powerless. No matter how big I grew, the little boy inside with an omnipresent fear of conflict, responded to upsetting situations by either avoiding them or steeling myself into a warrior preparing for battle.
Upsets, stemming from situations such as unmet expectations, broken agreements and clashing styles of behavior, are inevitable. From the ashes of many unhappy relationships, I’ve learned another way of responding to upsetting differences. It is the road less traveled, the way of the heart.
The heart of upsets is learning. Mark Gerzon, a highly respected renaissance thinker approaches conflict in the following way. “By shifting the focus from finding a solution to changing consciousness, conflict resolution becomes a transformational process. A deeper understanding of the situation allows each side to gain respect for the other. From this change in consciousness, new possibilities for solutions that do not compromise the integrity of either party arise that cannot even be conceived of in an adversarial proceeding.”
In an upset there are always very important reasons for beliefs, behavior, thoughts or feelings. When heart-connected we compassionately and respectfully engage in wanting to:
• Understand the other person’s position.
• Learn about our own position and any part we may have in the difficulty.
• Search for resolutions that preserve everyone’s integrity.
Although staying heart-connected in the face of upsets is an ideal that no one is always able to maintain, losing our heart is not the problem. Failing to learn from those experiences is the Achilles heel that festers into serious problems.
Responding to an upset from the heart rather than from fear requires knowing that we have lost our heart connection (See Feelings and Behaviors) Without that awareness we are stuck. Realizing that we’re disconnected we can:
• Take personal responsibility and acknowledge, without blame, that we have lost our heart connection. For example, “In trying to prove my point and get you to change, I lost my heart and I feel badly about that.”
• Do something to reconnect to our heart (See Ways to Reconnect To Your Heart).
• Learn more about the beliefs and fears that created our disconnection. “There are some important issues for me to confront here and I am committed to working on them. I’d also like to know more about your thoughts and feelings.”
• Express sadness about any wounding that occurred when we were disconnected and clean up the difficulties that resulted. Such as, “I feel badly that I disrespected you and I would like to heal any bad feelings.”
• Begin a compassionate dialogue to resolve the difficulties. “I feel open and caring. Are you ready to begin again?”
You can trace the flow of behavior and consequences from upsets in the chart From Upsets to Harmony.
What were your lessons about differences? What resources have been instrumental in changing your ideas about responding to differences? What questions remain unanswered?