Human Beings are a community of intelligence. We are not complete. We are still in progress. Relationships are the proving ground for our exercising this intelligence. We are not so much bound by our DNA as we are released to evolve beyond our forbears through the action we call learning. Learning invites intelligence to come forth. This is not learning from books; not the collection of knowledge but more in the nature of emotional growth. We are lagging in that arena. Intellectual growth is more easily achieved since schools are aimed at offering that kind of learning. Emotional learning comes through relationships. Smooth, loving relationships come through the crucible of emotional learning and the exercising of our real human community of intelligence.
Whenever a relationship is in difficulty, I say that is good news for there is now a real opportunity to “stretch” into the next level of growth. Here are some simple ways to create an intelligent outcome of any relationship conflict:
First, whenever there is conflict, it means the persons involved are “off-track” or they are not in alignment with their strengths. Their integrity is compromised. The conflict is the indicator. The negative emotion experienced is the guidance that says, “make a u-turn”, you are off the path of your positive development.
Second, remember these possibilities:
A. It’s not about you. This conflict means the other person is following a Y in the road and choosing the path not leading to the true self or integrity (integration). Therefore, they can benefit from your listening skills. Just remember, that person is not done yet. They are still in process. Whatever is triggering the resistance or the defensiveness or the offensiveness is simply a sign that they are “off track”. The best way is to revert to listening without judgment or blame.
B. It’s all about you. This conflict is a cry for your own growth. You are projecting something onto this person that is part of your own make-up. If it is negative, it means you are ready to grow some more. Ask what do I see in this person that is rattling or irritating? Then, ask if that is something you have not yet addressed in your own personality? Own the projection and accept the lesson offered by the conflict. Never forget that the feeling you are experiencing (and the thought behind the feeling) belongs to you. Maybe you still have an irrational belief that since you would not act the way that person is acting, you should not be subjected to such behavior. Give up the irrational belief and the other person will look very different to you.
C, It’s about both of us. The conflict is a combination of both people’s need for further evolution toward integrity. Look at the stage of development and review your life story. If the other party is willing to do the same, you may find that you are “homesick” and recreating an earlier fractal pattern from childhood or some other stage of life development. *See the Erikson stages. I have reviewed them at the end of this post.
We remain “incomplete” therefore, we can continue our growth toward integrity. We exist as a species with consciousness, and capacity for intelligent behavior. Allow for our growth path and foster the conditions in which we take the road less traveled–the path of love. Do your part to bring forward the community of intelligence that is the right and the responsibility of the human species.
*The Erikson life-stage virtues, in the order of the stages in which they may be acquired, are:
- hope – Basic Trust vs. Mistrust – Infant stage. As a baby, did you trust your caregivers?
- will – Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt – Toddler stage. You needed safety in order to explore the world. Were your caregivers offering safe exploration or sending messages of shame and doubt?
- purpose – Initiative vs. Guilt – Kindergarten – Were you allowed to make your own choices such as what to wear. If “guilty” about making your choices, you will not trust your own idea making.
- competence – Industry vs. Inferiority – Around age 6 to puberty. You were mastering skills and attaining knowledge. School environment is crucial in establishing a sense of self and trust in ability to learn. Feelings of inadequacy may have been reinforced during this stage.
- fidelity – Identity vs. Role Confusion – As a teenager, you asked, Who am I, how do I fit in? Where am I going in life? If parents allowed you to explore, you established your own identity. If the parents continually urged you to conform, you faced identity confusion. This stage is exploratory and allows for choices and failures while still under parental protection. Protection that demands conformity disallows the individuation process to continue. Successful teenage leaves you feeling capable of making a contribution to society. Your talents were fixed in your brain-mind system by this time of your life. Talents need to be defined and skills and knowledge offered to support talent development as entry into real adulthood.
- love (in close relationships at work or with family) – Intimacy vs. Isolation – Young adult. Who do I want to be with or date, what am I going to do with my life? Will I settle down? In the 21st century, this stage is lasting longer. Review your own decisions from your twenties.
- caring – Generativity vs. Stagnation – So called, mid-life crisis. Am I satisfied or not? This is the pivot generation, often charged with care of the young as well as responsible for aging parents. Stagnation means dissatisfaction, unhappiness. Generativity means self acceptance and self worth with one’s life.
- wisdom – Ego Integrity vs. Despair – old age. Facing death. Self reflection with outcome of self love, self forgiveness or feelings of hopeless despair. A time for harvest of memories with a meaningful look at one’s whole lifetime. Important to feel confidence in your contribution to your world during this lifetime.