Friday, November 13, 2015

Doing Conflict with Love

Advice of the Day: 
Enter every difficult conversation with someone you love with the idea held clearly and firmly in your mind *that you love them*. If you engage in every single conflict or disagreement, however major or minor, from a place of love, you will default to respectful language and kindness even when you're frustrated. You will actively strive for a win/win, and engage in conflict in the spirit of collaboration. You will stop being afraid to express yourself because you will learn to trust that the space will be safe even in the midst of conflict. 
If you love a person, you do not have any desire to harm them. In fact, you would willingly do whatever was required to protect them from harm. This includes verbal harm, first and foremost, even though sometimes we forget that words are fully functional weapons. This includes *even if/when they have harmed you first* and you feel it is grossly unfair for you to have to do any emotional heavy lifting or apologizing. If you love a person, you know you lose nothing when you apologize first, because your priority is resolution, not retaliation. 
If you love a person, this includes taking no pleasure in making your loved one cry or in saying whatever cruel thing you can conjure up to ensure they end up feeling as badly as you do. If you love a person, you do not kick them when they're down, you reach your hand out and help them up. You feel as invested in their happiness and comfort as you do in your own. 
Sometimes when we are in a really sad or hurt or angry place, it seems nearly impossible to muster up positive intentions towards even our most intimate partners. But conflict, when done well, is about catharsis. It's about saying what needs to be said so that you can find a way to move forward and let go of the problem once it's solved. It's not an inherently negative thing to have conflict. Some incredibly healthy relationships can contain a fair amount of conflict, especially when you combine two strong personalities. It's not the conflict itself that is damaging, it's the *collateral* damage of unnecessary harm caused by sharp words and emotional retaliation. 
If you love a person, always remember that you love them. If you can't talk to them right now, remember my earlier advice and say "I love you too much to have this conversation right now" or once engaged in conflict, one or both of you might want to say "Don't forget that we love each other." Being able to hold in your mind that you first and foremost love this person and wish them no harm will radically change the way you do conflict. (I promise- it works).

Next class on How To Do Conflict Well (aka Don't be an A-hole) is Thursday, 9/1 from 630-830 p.m. in my office. $50

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