Management in Times of Conflict
By Dr. Ben
the holidays, we had a chance to visit some old friends at their new
Mixed Martial Arts facility just north of Toronto. We had a great
time catching up while our boys tore up their massive gym (there's
just something that works about letting kids loose in a wide open
space covered with premium gym mats).
thoroughly wowed by what they've built over many years of back-breaking
effort, we grilled our friends for details on how much time and effort
goes into running their club and caring for their students.
shared love and war stories from our livelihoods, it occurred to me
that one life experience that all of us share is encountering bad
behavior every once in a while. Make that extremely bad behavior,
the kind that is almost comical because of how evil it is.
be appropriate to cite a specific example, but I'm thinking of situations
where someone knowingly lies, either behind your back or directly
to your face, even if this causes you significant emotional stress
or financial loss. Vague, I know, but I'm guessing that most of us
know what this feels like?
be clear in sharing that I detest confrontation. I have as much ego
and pride as anyone I know, and in my own fantasies, I am an über
athlete. Somehow, and I still don't know how it happened, Michael
Chang ended up living out the narrative that had my name on it. Winning
the French Open at 17 years of age? That was my cake, and he mistakenly
ate it in my place. But I digress.
the spittle starts flying and fists start shaking, inside, I am a
rabbit, not a lion. So over the years, I've learned to let things
go, often in the name of being compassionate, though I strongly suspect
that it's fear that fuels me to give benefit of the doubt in some
cases, not compassion.
the thing: I know that it's normal to seethe and tremble when we encounter
someone who's looking to hurt us and doesn't show even a hint of remorse
about his or her efforts. I don't think we can shut this type of seething
and trembling off - the capacity to agonize in this way is part of
what makes us human, right?
remember that there is always a price to be paid for emotional stress.
So while it's normal to feel threatened by someone trying to hurt
us, it's in our best interest to figure out how to restore harmony
within as soon as possible. Not in a Pollyanna sort of way where angst
lingers below the surface, but through substantive meditation on and
embracing of some immutable life principle that makes it natural to
radiate with peace.
is one such life principle that works for me, one that I believe can
work for just about anyone:
- For every instance of someone intentionally trying to hurt me,
there are many more of people being thoughtful and generous with
so maybe this isn't really an immutable life principle that has held
true for all of human history. Then again, maybe it is.
certainly been true throughout my life. For every person who has intentionally
tried to hurt me in some way, I glow with memories of hundreds of
people - friends, family members, acquaintances, clients, and even
strangers - who have shown me kindness, even when I didn't do anything
to deserve it.
lived in Ontario, Illinois, California, Alaska, and Seoul. The overwhelmingly
obvious observation that I can make from my time spent in these parts
of our world is that most people are good. Most people, though carrying
wounds and stressors, want to be happy and see others happy. Most
people are willing to lend a hand to someone who really needs it.
this is the truth that I suggest we draw comfort from in times
of stress. Yes, what this person is trying to do to me right now really
sucks, but what about the countless people who have blessed and supported
me? To think about, really think about those who have lifted us up
is a powerful antidote for despair, more powerful than any antidepressant,
I want to believe.
this a trick, or call it an essential life tool for minimizing periods
of emotional distress. I've found it to be a highly effective way
of taking my focus off of evil behavior and re-directing my energy
onto people and experiences that support my health.
we can't always ignore bad behavior, especially when we're obligated
to address unresolved conflict. But after fairly and honestly taking
care of "administrative" work, I believe we can quickly
feel free again. Free to enjoy another day of fresh air with our loved
ones, free to be of service to those around us, and free to learn
some Jiu-Jitsu for those who really need a beating. To be absolutely
clear, this last part about Jiu-Jitsu and handing out a beating is
a joke, my way of trying to lift a few spirits out there through solid
have any mental rituals that you engage in to help yourself get through
times that can cause full body trembles, please consider sharing with
the rest of us via the comments section below. Many thanks and peace
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