I hope those who attended the Sacred Soup: School for Living session last night learned as much as I did. Of course the content wasn’t new for me, but there was something important about the process. I hope those who attended will share their own reflections. Here are mine.
As it happened, none of the Sacred Soup regulars were able to be there. The only folks in attendance were new people who learned about Sacred Soup from the Meetup listing. As a result we didn’t follow the planned program of discussing the first of the Mindfulness Disciplines and instead repeated the presentation of the first session of the School for Living, the Introduction to Creative Conflict Resolution.
There are several propositions that are central to the core philosophy of the School for Living that are difficult to grasp because they are at odds with the dominant notions of our culture. Indeed, one of the biggest reasons we struggle is that what we are taught is common knowledge is actually not grounded in reality. Let me just share some of those propositions here.
· All relationships experience conflict and our biggest conflicts are with those with whom we have the most significant relationships. [We are told that a “good” relationship is conflict free.]
· When we resolve conflict we actually strengthen the relationship in which the conflict arises. [We are told that conflict damages relationships. It is fights that damage relationships.]
· We routinely resolve conflict but we don’t appreciate how skilled we are in part because we don’t name the circumstance a conflict until we discover that we don’t know what to do. [We are told that some conflicts are irresolvable.]
· Because one of the primary ways we know we are in conflict is that the other isn’t doing what we want, we think that resolving the conflict depends on getting the other to do what we want. [We live in a culture that tells us that we should be able to get others to do what we want. This is especially true for people in sales but still present for all of us.] The truth is, we do not control the choices of others. Furthermore, the more we try to control others, the more we damage our relationships and set ourselves up for frustration.
· The only thing we can do, indeed, the only thing we need do, is to change ourselves. That is where our power lies…in the transformation of ourselves. [We are told that this is just the way we are and, once we are grown, we can’t change.]
There are other things we cover in the Introduction to Creative Conflict Resolution but they are more about techniques than about fundamental propositions. These technical items include;
· How to share a complaint in a way that others are most likely to hear us and are least likely to want to fight with us.
· How to transform a reaction to a persistent pattern of conflict
· How to make a durable agreement
If you have any confusion or disagreement about the propositions or curiosity about the techniques I strongly suggest you attend the Introduction on most any second Sunday evening of the month. For more about the event go to http://www.creativeconflictresolution.org/jc/introduction.html