Most interpersonal conflicts seem to be fuelled by the feeling of being unfairly treated, being misunderstood, or both. In the outer world, or “Storyland”, there are millions of details to every conflict or power struggle, and we often explore the details constantly in our minds or through our arguments. We either use the details to come to an understanding of all the sides of the argument, or to reinforce our position and prove we are right. Meanwhile the underlying feelings in the inner world are rejected, suppressed or ignored because they seem to be too painful to face at the time.
There is no “right” or “wrong” response to a conflict, but there is always a purpose, and that purpose is to help you grow in acceptance, awareness, and appreciation. Acceptance of your own discomforts and hurts. Awareness of the discomfort as an illusionary energy pattern that disguises the truth of what you are. Appreciation of the wonderful being that you are, existing just beyond that discomfort. Your heart is giving you very specific guidance regarding how to respond to the conflict, as well as how to respond to your own discomfort and pain. When an individual comes to the point of desiring the Truth more than being right, a humbling process takes over. The individual realizes that painful feelings and beliefs are the source of the conflict, and so they walk away from their position, and find that they desire truth and happiness more than they desire being right. Until then, pride overshadows all thought.
About twenty years ago, a man made a comment to me that I found to be insulting and belittling. For many years afterwards, I would remember that exchange and it fuelled my dislike toward him, reinforcing my indignant rage. I refused to admit that I was just needing to feel important at the time, and that the man was reflecting my smallness back to me. Years later, I met him again, and started an argument with him about the problems in the Middle East, just so I could defeat him and overcome the smallness I felt every time I thought about what he told me! Well, just like the actual situation in the Middle East, the argument never got resolved, and so my bitterness persisted. The fact is that what the argument is about is irrelevant, regardless of how much we would like to believe that our position matters.
Whenever I thought about that man, I re-experienced the suffering of humiliation and smallness, and wished that bad things would happen to him. Strangely, the more I wished bad things on him, the more successful his life became, and this fact served to further enrage me.
Finally I came to see that it doesn’t matter what the “sides” are in a conflict, only what is fuelling the conflict in one’s inner space. When the hurt within me was embraced with acceptance, awareness and appreciation, the anger towards that man dissipated and the argument about the Middle East dissolved, as any argument will.