Have you ever noticed how all the shows and movies we love so much are generally in essence about human conflict, in one form or other, with oneself or another? It’s all about overcoming challenges, rising above adversity, learning forgiveness and how to love. We never see movies where everything is always harmonious, in sync or ‘perfect’, there’s always something going wrong before it gets better.
As observers of the movie or show, we see clearly where the misperceptions and misinterpretations have taken place that created the conflict or misunderstanding that is being presented. We watch in great suspense and hope that the characters will finally see what’s really going on and that what is true will come to light. It’s classic and it’s a theme repeated over and over again in each new production, different storyline but the same plot. They depict the varying degrees of conflict we all encounter in life…, and we never seem to tire of it. Millions of dollars are spent every year to watch the human drama play itself out on film. I find this an interesting phenomenon. Soap operas for example, present strife, intrigue and deceit one after the other, as do most movies. We seem to love watching conflict, yet, in daily life it is generally looked down on as a ‘bad’ thing.
Now, what would happen, if I shift my perception a few degrees and see signals of conflict, as serving a greater purpose? What if I adopt the view that conflict is an opportunity to learn and grow, and in doing so, stretch myself beyond what I think I see and know? Hmmm… It would definitely redirect my awareness and help develop deeper clarity and intimacy with myself and others. It would also enable me to gain a broader view, where I can be the observer of my own movie. Then conflict can be an opportunity for me, to know me.
In times when I have found myself tripping up in conflict, in the end, after looking deeper, I always catch up with myself and realize that like’ Ferdinand the Nearsighted Bull’ I was merely chasing exaggerations/ phantoms of my own creation. Also, like Ferdinand, I have trampled many a flower, reacting to a buzzing irritation I could not see, and so could not understand or appreciate, until I had new lenses to see.
The teachings of Ho’oponopono, that I shared in the last article, are like a basic recipe. Each conflict we experience consists of different ingredients. Some are simple and easy to resolve. Some are more complex. Often conflict can trigger deep wounds or unresolved pain, and so require more time and skill to master. Ho’oponopono is not a result oriented technique. It is a practice, a path, a journey. Some conflicts can be resolved in moments, others in days, months or years. What’s important is what I am choosing in each moment, and that I remain accountable for my reactions. Sometimes we need to get totally caught up in the conflict, so that the relics of the past, that are at its root, can get churned up and brought to the surface. That is an important part of the process, because it’s only when the wounds surface, that they can begin to heal. What’s needed, is permission to let that ugliness be what it is, so that we can evolve and grow. Until we allow and validate this process, we are suppressing and constricting what is true, and that, can only lead to dis-ease!
Conflict can be messy, painful, and is most often irrational. Perceiving it as only that has created a natural tendency to avoid it, put on airs, deflect and deny rather than meeting it. One reason for this tendency is we don’t have the tools to embrace and accept it. Why would I go into the dark without a flashlight? Another is that it’s taboo to show weaknesses and faults. The fear of not being good enough dominates. This tends to translate as being unlovable and unworthy. It is also due to the fast pace of living, where the time isn’t given or taken to engage conflict wholly. Also, freedom and permission doesn’t seem to exist in our awareness to allow the process of sorting and uncovering the genuine source of discord we are experiencing. These are the murky areas, where the answers and understanding have not yet formed.
Resolving conflict within and without is a delicate process, especially when old wounds are triggered. Unfortunately, most often, if the result isn’t immediately obvious, the result oriented mind becomes frustrated and condemning. We, here in the west, have definitely been primed that way. Patience is not our strong suit, even less so, in this era of entitlement and convenience than ever before. Everything has to be Now!
The seed sprouts in the dark. Many things develop and happen, before we see the evidence of it in the first shoot that comes through. It’s the same with personal growth and healing. Sometimes we need to retreat into the dark in order to grow. We need time. Not allowing this process, and so suppressing natural emotions, or forcing an outcome, is unhealthy. The amount of people dealing with depression and anxiety is a reflection of these suppressions. The dark feelings and experiences need to have permission and acceptance, to simply be. And through that ‘being’, they find their natural process, of healing and growth, like the seed.
Conflict in itself is not the total source of the pain we experience when in conflict. It’s the triggers that are linked to past pain and the original reactions that take over, and so distort our ability to meet the new situation in a clear and coherent way. Understanding this invites compassion and the ‘effortless’ movement towards forgiveness mentioned in the last article.
For me recognizing conflict as a catalyst for healing, metaphorically, is like having a compass at sea. It gives me direction and purpose. When I find myself caught in swells bigger than my little boat, where I’m tossed around and disoriented, I can follow the arrow of my emotional compass to stay on track. The compass shows me the clearest route to resolution. It shows me my options, the directions available to me. In essence there are really only two directions to choose from when in conflict; towards love and freedom, or towards hate and hurt. One path evolves me, while the other keeps me trapped in a loop of pain. From these two directions there are several pathways that augment and establish the choice made. Sometimes we need to enter the hurt and hate within, what’s important is the knowing that I choose where I go with it, whether I feel it to heal it or I dwell and fester in it. When I am using my experience/expression of hurt and hate to go deep into myself and grow, then even that is a movement towards love. Healing takes the time it takes and most often, we get dirty in the process. Allowing that to be as it is let’s us breathe and helps us give others the room to breathe as well.
Using a ‘compass’ does not mean my life will be conflict free. It means I can choose a path, that, when followed, always reveals a deeper truth and enables the possibility of growth. The compass is one of my main ‘tools’. Tools are practices, affirmations, knowledge, etc., that help me to stay focused and steady when I am under the influence of emotional triggers. Knowledge brings light, as the Hebrew say. It also brings power to reshape reality. ‘ Tools’ encourage focus and the ability to act constructively and effectively. Finding the tools that work is the key, using them is the next one. I may have the tools I need to build a house but I have to pick them up and use them to do so. It takes practice. Sometimes it works better than others. Messing up at times is part of the learning. It’s all o.k. Keep building! That’s a key message of Ho’opono pono.
We are human, capable of extraordinary beauty and also terrible nightmares. It’s the same package of possibilities open to each of us. The governing factor is choice. Evolving beyond the reactions of this duality depends first on accepting it. It’s not always easy, but it’s always possible.
Three Hawaiian principles that I love are:
1. There is always another way to be, perceive or do anything-there is no ‘one way’ of doing things right; all perceptions are arbitrary.
2. Where my attention goes energy flows-thoughts are energy, they form reality.
3. Effectiveness is the measure of truth-if it works keep doing it, if not find what does.