How do you respond to conflict?

Last night, we had a house meeting, mostly to talk about specific issues that have come up in the house recently – minor disagreements, to be sure, but major enough that all voices needed to be heard at once.

I usually approach conflict with hearty dose of curiosity, a dash of apprehension, and a sprinkle of… is there a feeling word that describes a raising of the hackles? It’s something I’ve worked on – am constantly working on – softening within myself, but I’m still aware of this feeling tickling my belly, ready to set my core on fire.

My fire… You could explain it away with astrology (Leo-rising, Mars on the Ascendant), ayurveda (Pitta dominant), Enneagram (Eight, the Challenger). Whatever the reason, my desire for independence and to be seen as strong walk hand-in-hand with my pride and my defensiveness. So, when I’m tested or challenged, I often easily react, sure to show you my power (what my ego thinks is power, anyway).

In one-on-one conflicts, I am prone to the flaring up described above. However, something changes in me when it comes to group situations. Home, and harmony in it, is very important to me. (I’m a sensitive Cancer, ok?!) I want to make sure that everyone is feeling supported and comfortable. The mother archetype takes over and my soft underbelly is exposed. Sometimes, I passively retreat from conflict or sidestep until we’ve all sort of danced around the issues.

Last night, it was determined, with no lack of tension, that we would allow no bikes inside the house. One person really wants to store their bike inside and the other three don’t. Eventually, this person, clearly upset (but, I think, understanding) conceded to the wishes of the rest of the house.

It was fascinating to observe and experience the ebbs and flows of conflict resolution. It’s important to have everyone’s voices heard and support each other to be as clear, honest, and compassionate as possible. I am so lucky to live in a house where everyone is committed to communicate as consciously as possible. It is no easy feat to recognize our own needs as well as be able to listen openly to the needs of others – especially when there is a gap between the two.

As usual, I imagine the connection from the micro- to the macrocosm. I would love to see nations communicating consciously and compassionately, instead of creating more war and more conflict. It’s difficult to when there’s an unfathomable amount of trauma and suffering to listen to and through, to find what’s most authentic and as beneficial as possible to both parties. I can’t imagine trying to compare, say, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to slight blips of conflict in my own home because, of course, the situation is so complex and there are decades, if not millennia, of trauma and pain piled up on all sides. Listening and speaking from the heart sounds damn near impossible, right? But, what could be harder than being trapped in the cycles of violence begetting more violence, watching loved ones suffer, die, or simply consumed with rage? A choice must be made to lay down the defenses and open arms wide.

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