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The Problem with Conflict Resolution

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No matter how strategic you are in attempting to resolve a difference of opinion with another person, as long as it is framed as a conflict and viewed by at least one of you in terms of one person being "right" and the other as "wrong" no real progress is made in the relationship. A battle will be won, but a war will rage on. The presence of right/wrong dynamics in a relationship indicates a power struggle and not the process of co-creation by two equally respected partners. Whether deciding what to have for dinner, when and how to express shared intimacy or any other decision that affects both partners, ultimately it is the decision making process rather than the decision itself that speaks volumes about the quality of consciousness being expressed in the relationship.

On a continuum of possibilities, at one extreme the decision making process will demonstrate one partner dominating and silencing the other and at the other extreme is a shared process of considering each person's point of view, evaluating the alternatives together and finding a solution that serves the highest good of all concerned. Guess which one is more healthy? Take a look at the major relationships in your life and ask yourself how healthy your decision making style is. Are you a bully? Do you play a victim role? Do you feel heard?

When one partner dominates, something dies in the other partner. When both participate, both partners thrive. This is true whether the two parties are schoolyard children, marriage partners, business associates or countries. Dominance expresses a lack of caring and consideration for the concerns and welfare of the other, a silencing of one by the other and the inability to create something greater through the true blending of two into one accord. Dominance breads hostility, a lack of mutual respect and an inevitable retaliation in one form or another by the underdog. Consider the waiter who secretly spits in your soup because you were condescending and rude or the marriage partner who withholds sex feigning frequent headaches.

The fact that you are able to dominate and silence another person by throwing your weight around literally and/or figuratively doesn't make your point of view the "best" approach. It simply shows your lack of awareness and inability to participate in more fruitful, kind and caring relationships with others. It is a red flag that indicates your need for personal healing, remedial education and spiritual upliftment. Some of the most brilliant and creative minds that might otherwise contribute far more lucrative and enjoyable solutions are silenced by bullies, social and institutional norms and political hierarchies of power. I often wonder how rich and healthy we could be if we nurtured the full participation of all rather than the advancement of the few.

Many people who carry unresolved and accumulated anger from their past let off steam by bullying others. Some, flashing the badge of their social position, title or wealth, pursue their own agenda at the expense of others, telling themselves it is their right -- they are entitled and others are not. Consider the "mean" boss, the bully in the schoolyard, the spouse batterer and the one who abuses children. Think about how the "most powerful" countries in the world take advantage of the smaller and less developed nations. Consider the discord between Tibet and China. "Might" most certainly does not make "right" nor does it demonstrate the best of which we are capable.

The social consequences of allowing bullying, dominance and right/wrong decision making to prevail in our society and world are enormous. How much personal growth, loving, caring and sharing is sacrificed when an individual dominates his or her marriage partner or family members? How much creativity, productivity and camaraderie is lost to systems and leadership styles that stifle rather than encourage the contribution of employees? What countries do you know of that truly strive to maximize the health, happiness and productivity of their citizenry? The irony is this is more true of "primitive" societies than of "advanced" societies.

In order for an individual and/or a society to move out of right/wrong thinking and bullying others to advance one's own agenda, they have to be willing to experiment with new behaviors. In order for them to be motivated to do so, they have to be capable of comprehending the price they pay for their myopic focus. That's the real challenge. The worst offenders don't even know what they are missing and are satisfied with the spoils of the greedy wars they wage, unaware of the magnitude of abundance that could be created, promoted and allowed by feeding rather than starving others.

Meanwhile, many believe that we are now in the dawning of the Aquarian Age when we will be freed from this kind of bondage of our minds and spirits that has prevailed for thousands of years. Look around and you will see many who are consciously working to break through the prevailing cultural pattern of creating personal hierarchies of power in human relationships. It is a slow process of choosing more kindness, more caring, more encouragement of hope and participation. It is fueled by a vision of celebrating our oneness while honoring our differences. It is expressed by finding ways to tap the vast resources of participation, creativity and productivity of all members of relationships, families, organizations and countries -- not just the few that currently hold the power at the expense of the others. One by one the momentum is growing as individuals look for enlightened lovers and leaders and join causes that seek greater health and well-being. People are learning to speak up rather than giving up. Some are creating relationships and organizations that are alive and evolving where all participants are free, safe and encouraged to fully participate without concern for whether or not their points of view match those of others. Pay attention to your affiliations and the quality of your relationships. Are you perpetuating the old or helping to bring in the new?

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Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me at judith@havingityourway.com. You can also retweet this post, share it on Facebook, or email it to friends who may enjoy it. To learn more about me, visit my website, www.judithjohnson.com. For information on my future blogs, click "Fan" at the top of this page.

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