With the uncertainty of our day, we may be experiencing increased feelings of helplessness or anxiety. When passing through cosmic storms of conflict, we may feel small or bombarded with so many different perspectives and opinions. During times like this, it can feel like we are being stretched to our breaking point. However, even amidst this external chaos and confusion, we are being given opportunities to learn internally about love, forgiveness, and empathy. We could say that we are even being invited to participate in “a laboratory of love."
These negative challenges can actually be catalysts that have the power to activate personal growth, transformation and change, and even provide us opportunities to face discord or adversity a little better. In this “laboratory of love”, we could actually learn how to agree to disagree and still hold on to our own personal power and emotional maturity, and at the same time, honor someone else’s perspective or point of view.
Seeing things from a different perspective can open up possibilities that we might never know existed. It seems easier to agree with those of our same mindsets or social and cultural views, however, learning to disagree better can push us out of our rigid thinking or our self-righteousness and expand our ability to love.
“Conflict doesn’t have to be a bad thing, instead it can be viewed as an opportunity to connect with people we usually disagree with.” -Benjamin J. Cook
Here are three resources to help us all thrive in this challenging “laboratory of love.” These tips are especially helpful in close intimate relationships, family relationships, work acquaintances, or people we don’t even know:
1) Improve Communication
This month, as we celebrate love relationships with a spouse or partner and/or focus on healthier patterns of self-love, we can be more aware of our personal communication. We can strive to "mean what we say” and “say what we mean.” This can move us from the messy middle of non-productive communication to more assertive, open, and honest expressions of ourselves. We can let go of our need to blame or feel victimized and use accountable language on our part. We can let go of issues that don’t really make sense and put those topics on the non-issue list.
2) See People As Individuals Rather Than Objects
The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute is a great resource for seeing people as individuals rather than classifying them as objects. Also Non-Violent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. may be just the book you are looking for. Both reveal two great approaches for increasing our skills to handle conflict, even getting beyond conflict and finding common ground where relationships can be strengthened and even thrive.
3) Increase Levels of Mindfulness
Heightened levels of awareness and consistent mindfulness practices can help you be more forgiving of others’ emotional reactivity and our own. These practices help maintain peace and acceptance of self and others in our humanness. This expanded level of tolerance can transfer to those in our homes as well as those we come in contact with on a daily basis. IPT processing, meditation, morning notes, journaling, listening to music, exercise, eating healthy, getting enough sleep etc. can help us upgrade our downtime to healthy self-care and are important steps to increase mindfulness.
This month let's focus on lessening our need to judge or criticize self or others and sweeten our relationships by increasing our ability to choose love over fear, to lean into understanding and empathy rather than hate, and to elevate our negative internal chatter from learned helplessness to personal power.
Let’s Choose LOVE!
Happy Valentine’s Day,