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personal development personal engagement personal engagement social change

Fully Engaged through Conflict

Rivers are tricky things. They present themselves as having two sides, being capable of running fast and slow, getting shallow and flooding. But all the while, they are just one thing: a river. What they do, what they’re capable of doing, and where they go is irrelevant to rivers – they simply exist.

Conflict is tricky for the same reason. It shows itself as having sides, raging and simmering, being shallow and overflowing. The trick, though, is that the whole time conflict is actually coming from Heartspace, like all our interactions do. Instead of avoiding conflict or rapidly seeking resolution, sometimes we must engage in conflict and agree to disagree. Wrapped around us and working in total perfection all the time, Heartspace holds our conflicts and enthusiasms in equal measure. Anything that causes relations, interactions, and engagement is moved by Heartspace. Conflict is an appearance of dissimilarity – but it is just an appearance.

Like dead skin off our bodies, conflict is a top layer of our engagement with others. Underneath that layer there is always more. Love is always beneath conflict, in all its forms including philos, eros, and agape. In order to be in conflict, both players have to care about the same thing, even if they seem to have contradictory opinions about it. One of the key steps in conflict resolution is the acknowledgment that all players involved care about the same thing.

Working from Heartspace can resolve conflict. If you are interested in resolving conflict, start by acknowledging what you are engaged in within yourself that is in conflict. Take care of that engagement, strengthen it if you’d like, and build your engagement muscle. Go to the conflict next, and make sure that you know what you are in conflict about. Name what would you have be different from the conflict,  and decide what you can negotiate. If you are in conflict with another person, make sure that you’re safe in addressing that conflict. If you’re not safe, name why that is to yourself.

Continue by looking within yourself and seeing how Heartspace is supporting this engagement. Listen to yourself. If you are conflicted within yourself, your work is there first. If you’re in conflict with the Earth, then work there. Actively listen to yourself or the others involved in the conflict. Say what you want and need clearly, and allow yourself to grow because of what the others have said. There will be inconvenient things said, and it will challenge you. When you respond, come from within yourself and that space where you are truly engaged in the issue. Keep listening. Feel your intensity about the issue recede, and your engagement with the other side of the issue become clearer. If you there are tangents, hold them for what they are, tangents. That’s all. If you come to a place that is tough or seemingly impossible, stay calm, patient, and respectful. Share ideas that reflect both sides, and see if the needs and wants underneath the surface can be named. Invite the other side to share their feelings, and share yours as openly as you can. Take breaks if you want to. Sit with the conflict you feel and simply feel it. You don’t have to fix it right now, it can wait.

When you have gone through this process you will be able to build an agreement that works for everyone involved. Heartspace will relax and tension will release as compassion is demonstrated and interdependence is actualized. Then go, enact the change that you’ve agreed on. What are some ways you’ll know if you’re successful? Live and learn from the process, and know that the next thing to do is right in front of you, always.

Heartspace supports all parts of this process. If your goal is to rub away the dead skin from your body by using Heartspace as a pumice stone, then get rid of it! Some people prefer to brood or pout, while others are fiery and angry. Conflict shows many faces, like the river. But like the river, it also simply is what it is. Heartspace shows how conflict engages us. We can strengthen our ability to benefit from Heartspace by working in and through conflict.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

By Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker, writer, trainer, researcher and advocate who researches, writes and shares about education, youth, and history.

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