Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Awakening Your Conscious Conflict Ownership

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” - Anais Nin

Our conflicts are our best teachers.  Few of us grow, change, or learn without conflict.  Conscious Conflict Ownership is the ability to clearly see different aspects of a conflict, including how you created or co-created the situation, where you are, and where you could be.  Like a mirror, Conscious Conflict Ownership, helps you see your blind spots and unconscious patterns.  This reflection allows you to gauge your position and posture, and adjust and improve your standing.

There are four things you can do to increase your Conscious Conflict Ownership.  If you follow these guidelines you will soon be able to grasp the lessons your conflicts provide and incorporate those lessons into your life. 

1.  Take a Step Back and Reflect.  When you step back from conflict you can see the bigger picture and reflect upon your part in its creation.  Doing this will help you develop your insight and critical thinking and increase your willingness to be accountable for your own actions and reactions, rather than blaming others.  When you have time and space, try this two-step exercise:

o   First, write down or otherwise recount the story of a significant conflict you faced from the perspective of the person on the other side.  Think of this as a role play exercise:  you are an actor, playing the role of the other person.  Imagine what this person might say about what they saw, heard, or felt.  Consider all the factors that this person lives with.  Describe how the stressors of their life might have impacted them.  Think of ways that they might justify their actions based on their circumstances.

o   Next, figure out what the two of you have in common.  Is there any place that your goals complement one another?  For instance, in the workplace you may both be perceived as childish or catty if you continue to fight.  If you can put your differences behind you, both of your reputations will benefit.  Knowing that you both want the same thing – for instance, to look good to the boss – doesn’t mean it’s an either/or.  You can both accomplish this goal.  Believing there is enough to go around will enable you to stop fighting for crumbs.

2.  Don’t take it personally.  In “The Four Agreements:  A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom,” Don Miguel Ruiz, a leader in the conscious awareness community, tells us:

“Don’t take it personally.  Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” 

It’s easy to fall into the take-it-personally trap.  In reality, everyone is focused on their own little world.  Knowing “it’s not about me” allows us to accept things as they are, avoid irritation and hurt, and find a sense of freedom. 

3.  Be aware of your physiology.  Physical sensations and emotions provide important messages.  But we have been programmed to ignore them.  The subtle rumblings of feeling dismissed, discounted, disrespected, disenfranchised, or otherwise devalued can build-up to the point of no return.  However, when you address these sensations, which are actually part of the fight or flight survival response in your nervous system, before you are propelled into explosion, you can avoid conflict drama and come out the winner.

4.  Keep moving forward, with heart.  Acknowledge your mistakes, make positive suggestions for the future, follow up when appropriate, and ultimately learn from (and avoid repeating) your missteps.  When you engage in this forward motion, without harsh self-talk, you will find yourself open to the lessons that your conflicts can provide. 

Yes, aligning your mindset to embrace Conscious Conflict Ownership is no small task.  But, it’s worth the work.  When you are able to look at an existing conflict, see your individual contributions to it, and change your position, attitude, actions, or reactions, you may find that the conflict has gone away entirely, seemingly on its own.  Ultimately, Conscious Conflict Ownership will bring you pay-offs that include improved relationships, a reduction in the amount and intensity of your conflicts, and a better understanding of yourself and your world. 

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