Conflict resolution, inner and outer peace, having a good relationship, figuring out your direction in life, it all starts with stopping.
Not for too long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting inertia.
What I’m promoting is taking a few breaths. Pausing before you hit send all and instead save it as a draft and sleep on it. Think before you speak. Check in with your body and what you really want even more than just being right before you speak. Get your mind and heart both onboard and in agreement. What is your higher calling? What is more important than a soundbite or a lot of likes?
And what are you to do right after you stop, but before you start again? What is in that pause?
You listen. You listen to the other side, even if that other side is just a different option you get to think about. You listen to your body if it’s tired, instead of your brain if it’s pushing you to keep going. You stop and you listen, for however long it takes to come home to your heart, and after that is when you start again.
Resolving a conflict doesn’t mean agreement of the two parties. It could be peace. Or resolution. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to convince someone that your point of you should be theirs. Nor do you have to adopt their point of you in order to peacefully coexist.
Let's look at the last bit again: Peaceful coexistence does not necessarily mean you have to agree. I know that's an unpopular opinion recently. But seriously. I love so many people I disagree with about something or another. Sure, it feels all nice and tidy and frictionless if we agree. But it's not necessary for me to love them.
Somewhere along the line, we have gotten a bit polarized.
Please, my dears, stop.
And guess what? It's not all you. It's your brain.
We have been stressed more than usual for years now. Our brains simply don’t have the bandwidth to function well in the face of such a prolonged, chronic state of the unknown.
Our prefrontal cortex doesn’t work as well, and our amygdala has more say. And while our amygdala is great at yelling fire and running from bad guys, it’s not so good when it comes to the subtleties of relating to other people. It looooves black and white thinking.
Our prefrontal cortex is where we can choose between seemingly conflicting ideas and take into consideration abstract ideas. It's where we can take into consideration our shared history, interests, and mutual respect. I understand that you may feel strongly about some issues. I understand that you may feel drawn to speak up for your values. And I respect that.
But what I am standing up for is connection. I am against choosing separation over one issue instead of valuing each other and all the shades of gray you both contain. Please have a conversation, and listen, before laying down an ultimatum. Choose a pause, breathe, drop into love, recenter, and then start again.
We are all on this crazy ride together.
Please start with stopping.