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My Struggle with Conflict

Doris Deits

Humans seem to love conflict. History shows our endless love affair with conflict of one war after another. Our modern day sports are just watered down gladiator events. People love to get fired up over an injustice or fight for a cause. Caring, rationale people can turn into raging tyrants of conflict if given the proper stimuli. But if the love of conflict is in our collective blood, then why do I as an individual hate it so much?

I have always hated conflict. I don’t like it and I don’t want it touching me. I don’t understand the driving need to fight over every little thing. Why can’t we all just get along?!!! How is it that I don’t have the lust for conflict like everybody else!

There’s an ugliness in conflict. There is cruelty. There is a struggle over who or what is right, superior, or stronger. The conflict has to be worthy of battle and possible loss. The humiliation of being stomped on or dismissed as invalid can be a heavy price, and one must choose their battles wisely.

As you can surmise, my perception of conflict isn’t pretty or something to be desired.

It wasn’t until I began to study metaphysics that I realized I had maybe misjudged conflict as a battle with one winner and one loser. I wasn’t aware there was another option – that thing called compromise where each side gets something. In my early experiences I never saw any examples or demonstrations of compromise, only one person crushing the other. It was as if a whole new world appeared – one where there could be a mutual agreement, a mutual win. I’d never seen such a thing!

I also gained a deeper understanding of conflict and its role in life through my studies. Humans can experience very strong and stimulating sensations of feeling powerful in a conflict. We are accustomed to seeing the struggle of conflict over issues of control and dominance, which heightens that feeling of raw, savage power in the body. A very addictive substance, my friend.

This explained why I didn’t have the conflict bug! Having been abused at a young age, I only knew what it was like to lose a conflict – over and over again. I was conditioned to know only one side, as winning was never within my grasp.

In fact my perception of conflict was so askew that I lived much of my life avoiding it at almost all costs. Avoiding conflict became my life’s mission and sadly, it was the only thing I can really say I was passionate about.

My one developed super power was that I didn’t have opinions on anything! It was my cloak of invisibility and it was genius. I was of no threat to anyone and I moved through life unnoticed and unimportant – hiding in plain sight.

Unfortunately, in my genius of conflict avoidance I was living a diminished life – one without any sparkle or pizzazz so as not to be noticed or targeted for attack. And in the end, conflict still found me despite all my efforts.

I realize now that it was my beliefs and perceptions – my personal definition of conflict that was at the root of my displeasure of it. Conflict is just a thing that occurs when two or more things are not in harmony with each other. I had misinterpreted conflict as abuse, conflict as a loss of my personal power.

When I realized this previous conclusion wasn’t actually true, I found it rather easy to redefine my beliefs about conflict and see it as a full package – in its wholeness.

Yes there can be an ugliness to conflict when one side is unwilling to compromise or share a win with another. But there can also be a beautiful dance within conflict and a resulting harmony created where there was none.

I was able to demonstrate this to myself when in conflict with my spouse. If we discuss a divisive issue with an attitude of finding a balance point or common ground, we usually find it and we both feel more supported and closer to each other through the effort.

Harmony through conflict was not something I could relate to until I disentangled it from my abusive experience.

Now when I get into a disagreement (conflict) with another person or situation, I look for the potential of harmony and places of compromise so that neither side feels victimized. I no longer fear conflict because I can see both sides now.

In conflict I can feel empowered through my choice of compromise instead of feeling victimized through a sense of winning and losing, all or nothing. Perhaps our government will soon come to the same realization I did – we are better working together towards a common good for everyone.