The concepts are remarkably similar- when I studied international conflict and how to mediate divorce and how to counsel couples- the skills are the same as teens who are struggling with anger and pain from a conflict. Deal with your thoughts, your feelings and respond rather than react.
Easier said than done. Let’s practice until it is your default setting. Create the causes and conditions in your heart, in your mind and watch how your behavior follows suit. You will create ripples in cause and effect. Want a different future, sow the seeds now and you will reap what you sow.
You will review what you already know and learn some novel approaches. Just like an instrument or a sport, practice makes a huge difference. Knowing it and doing it are not the same thing.
I can’t tell you how many people say they wish they learned this in school. And why not? We do this throughout our life, it is a necessary skill and so few people get exposure to it until they are already into it.
What if I told you we could prevent a majority of the unnecessary conflict? Does that interest you? If you knew that simply by listening to understand, clarifying and validating you moved from 200 disagreements down to 25, would you want to learn those skills? Sure, some arguments are necessary and beneficial, but many are simple misunderstandings and miscommunications. Some are people not acting in good faith and could not be prevented.
That is a separate discussion. We are here to grow our confidence in handling the necessary conflict. Imagine going into conflict with confidence that you can get through it successfully. That feels really good.
Practice putting yourself in this mindset “I am not your opponent, your adversary, your enemy- it is you and me against the problem. Together, let’s create the causes and conditions for peace. Let’s go with peace as a strategy before violence, aggression and belligerence.”
We won’t be naïve. Some people make money from violence and they will sabotage any efforts. Some people see their aggressiveness as their only way to maintain their power. Some people don’t want peace and see no advantage to having peace. They have forgotten who they are and that we are all connected. For me to hurt you is not a smart strategy, because when I hurt you, I hurt myself. We are that connected. You won’t convince everyone to see it your way and that can be a painful and disillusioning experience when it comes to peace. Some people are so invested in competition and aggression that they will not change. This is not about them. We are called to change our default settings to compassionate action. Violence does not serve us in the long-term. There is a better way, multiple better ways. Let’s go out there and make a difference with the skills we will learn, the mindset shifts, the mental flexibility and the ability to handle our emotions when we are hurt and tempted to use that hurt to hurt others.
I will ask you to think about ways you can use this in your relationships with family, friends, classmates, co-workers, teammates and in thinking about world history and our past and present conflicts. Let’s think out of the box and be as creative as possible. Let’s make this world a little better.
Let’s challenge each other- When you feel discouraged, who will you talk to about this? Can you think of a couple conflicts right now? What is it about those conflicts that are painful or impactful for you? Did what you tried to resolve the conflict work? Were you successful? Did you feel confident that you had the skills necessary? What skills would you like to polish or learn?
If you are highly motivated, you might get the book Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. You might read the 6 conflict skills by John Gottman. Read about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi and how they approached the problem of violence. Who else can you think of that has been successful with the problem of violent conflict?
Read more about strategies and know that some people will fight you for wanting alternatives to violence or even want peace.
Non violent communication