Mary Schneider, who does Austin-based Holographic Repatterning (a form of cognitive/energetic therapy), helps us start the new year in the right frame of mind and being free from the fear of conflict. Sound impossible? It isn’t with these very basic steps in learning how to resolve conflict in all areas of your life.
Several years ago I was helping a client with a recurring conflict that had been keeping them in a state of tension and agitation for some time. The particular treatment session necessary for this is called a “Conflict Resolution Repatterning,” a very powerful and profoundly transformational experience for most of my clients. At that particular time, I had just finished the training necessary to be able to use this repatterning session. Having treated several by then, I noticed that nine out of the ten clients were responding to a particular element in the very same manner.
Then, suddenly I had an epiphany. We, as a global community, resonate with the belief that conflict cannot be resolved. And, if I worked with clients in my office day after day and changed people’s resonance with the belief that conflict cannot be resolved, I could make a difference in the world.
The “Conflict Resolution Repatterning” was developed by Chloe Wordsworth, the developer and founder of Holographic/Resonance Repatterning. Wordsworth based this treatment on some work by relationship guru, John Gottman, who states there are basically three types or styles of conflict resolution people engage in: the negotiator, the volatile and the avoidance styles. There is an element of this repatterning treatment that speaks to which conflict styles your parents engaged in and it asks the question, “Based up your parents’ conflict styles, what is your negative belief about how conflict is resolved?”
The clients responded with the very same answer: conflict cannot be resolved. I have noticed over the years that many individuals back away from any kind of conflict and also experience profound disempowerment in the face of it. There are many reasons for this behavior and primarily I believe much of the time it’s due to people experiencing conflict as children when someone involved got hurt – emotionally or physically, or both. For instance, if as a child a person experienced an angry alcoholic parent physically harming someone in their family, then as an adult when a conflict arises there is a good chance it will trigger old, unresolved experiences and negative feelings.
Because of the response triggered, some people move into a fight/flight mode and are taken out of the moment and unable to respond in a calm, rational manner. Or, they are simply unable to respond at all. They have a tendency to respond in the same way every time in one of three ways: negotiating, being volatile or avoiding the situation at all costs. Much of the time, these repetitive responses don’t work. We know this because the same basic conflicts repeatedly re-emerge, corroborating the belief that the conflict cannot be resolved. Also, what many people don’t understand, particularly in a volatile situation, is that adults always have choices. As a child, one usually doesn’t have the luxury of choices.
Urgency is generally inherent in anger. “I want this issue addressed now. We need to talk about this now.” What I tell my clients is that there really is only one thing in the world that truly requires urgency. That is – physical tissue damage. That’s it. If someone is bleeding, then you need to do something right away. Everything else can wait.
So, if a conflict arises and you feel threatened, spaced out or unsafe, it is perfectly OK to say that you need time out to collect yourself and your thoughts before you respond. If it takes two weeks to collect yourself and your thoughts, that’s fine, too. You can also suggest to the person you are in conflict with that you need to wait until they can also calm down. Let them know that you appreciate their passionate response and you need to think about it and get back to them at a better time.
Five words in the English language you can feel free to use are: This isn’t OK with me. Or, this doesn’t work for me. When someone is in the throes of a volatile conflict mode, use one of these statements and then tell them you are going to take a break and walk away. Hold your hands up, palms up and out, to create a physical boundary and walk away. Hurtful words and painful accusations can be avoided and when everyone calms down then you can begin to work toward resolution. You may need help in the process. Conflict arises to teach us where we need to heal so that we can reach a higher state of love and bonding. This is really what conflict is calling us to – and it shows us where we need to grow.
So, this is a long way around saying that at the end of this incredible year, 2011, and at the new beginning of the gift of the year 2012, let’s all resolve to re-frame our beliefs in the resolution of conflict – let’s reframe it so that we come to believe that “conflict can be resolved” – because I do believe that in this endeavor we can and will change the world.