“You can’t let him get away with that!” were the words spewed in “encouragement” after a particularly bitter and heated exchange.
For most of us, our first thought after a conflict is about how we can respond so that we can prove ourselves and appear tough. Often that response is retaliatory and prompted by the ego. The question to answer is whether there is really any catharsis when we “get somebody back”. Is that the best use of our energy for ourselves, the other, or the world?
I’ve found solace in the understanding that another’s reaction to a situation is a greater reflection of their own challenges than a reflection of me.
Understanding another’s reaction comes with responsibility as well. I could use that understanding to needle and further trigger, or I could use it to better understand the person and take care to support them as a steward of goodwill. Of course, if my action prompted a reaction, it is important for me to reflect on the intention behind my action and the words I used that could appear loaded triggering the reaction. Though I won’t suggest perfection, it is almost always my goal to de-escalate a conflict and not fuel the fire. Emotional fuel burns the brightest, so recognizing and acknowledging the feelings that well up in me (not burying them or feeding them) effectively creates an environment for productive conflict resolution. Isn’t that what we really want anyway? What purpose does conflict serve if discovering common ground isn’t the outcome we pursue?
To allow a conflict to carry on is a burden that you can choose not to carry. Letting go of hate and working toward forgiveness is a huge burden lifted. Whether you believe in a greater power in the Universe or not, one does not ever really “get away” with anything. They will always carry the yoke on their shoulders until they come to their own terms. I believe we will all be tested from time to time with opportunities to come to terms with our burdens. Then we make the choice to forgive ourselves and others or hold on to the hurts and let them fester.
Is there anything you could let go of that would lift a huge weight from your shoulders?