04/13/2015 03:50 pm ET Updated Jun 12, 2015

Rabbit Hole Invitations: Saying 'No!' to Conflicts You Don't Need

The root of all conflict is insecurity. And the root of all insecurity is fear.

Many people use conflict as a form of communication. Because of their own insecurities they start fights -- arguments, misunderstandings -- or use criticism and sarcasm not in a constructive way or as a higher form of wit but as a destructive weapon. They do this for a variety of emotional and psychological reasons. They learned this behavior at home and in the environment in which they grew up.

Such people need a way to off-load their fears onto others. Many are lonely, others jealous, and some are wracked by insecurities or feelings of low self-esteem. Others are playing power games -- a higher form of insecurity -- and some start conflicts simply because they are looking for someone talk to, somebody to share in their own pain.

They crouch at the bottom of their own dark, dank holes trapped with the only person they don't want to be with: themselves. Alone, they are confronted with their issues and complexes. Yet when they sense life or movement at the lip of their hole, they shout from the bottom, "Hey, you! Big nose! [add insult] Come down here and let's fight it out, you jerk!" Thus, they invite you down into their cramped chambers for a conflict in order to communicate their misery.

The essential question to ask is: Why do you accept the invitation? Why do you willingly crawl down someone else's rabbit hole, especially if you are not qualified to do so?

The reasons people -- often perfectly healthy people -- accept a rabbit hole invitation is as complex as the inner torments of those who crouch in the shadows of their holes. You go down other peoples' rabbit holes to:

-- Accept the conflict invitation.
-- Out of a sincere need to help out and do good.
-- Because the person can push all the right buttons on you and manipulate your feelings.
-- Because you don't realize it is a rabbit hole, and what it means to go down one.
-- Because you are as lost, insecure and confused as the rabbit itself.
-- Because you are a rabbit hole communicator and you don't know any other way to communicate.
-- Because you have a "superwoman" or "superman" complex. You have a need to "save" the person at the bottom of the hole for your own positive self-image and to feel good about yourself.

And thus do you journey to the bottom of somebody else's hole. It is a dark and often unfamiliar place. A creature lurks in some murky corner of the hole, eyes glowing red, ready for a confrontation. Or perhaps their eyes are as vacant and lost as the hole itself. It doesn't matter. In either case, you find yourself at the bottom of somebody else's hole and they either want to drag you into a conflict with them or to swallow you whole within their sad, empty gazes, sucking you down into their own oblivion.

Now what are you going to do? Fight, become lost yourself, live, writhe or die at the bottom of somebody else's hole? Are you prepared for this? Do you really want or need this? Are you even qualified to be there?

Let's say you are indeed ready and willing to fight deep inside this rabbit hole. But are you consciously aware of what the fight is about? Is it worth the energy? Conflict can be good and healthy but only if there is a positive outcome, only if the conflict creates clarity. Otherwise you may simply be in a fight with someone you don't wish to fight and for reasons that are unclear to you: a dim and confusing situation.

Or let's say you sincerely wish to help that rabbit hole person with the vacant or angry eyes. Are you prepared for this? Does the person truly wish to get better or to merely to have someone sharing her or his hole with them? If so, is that what you want?

The danger is, you will either emerge from somebody else's hole battered, bruised and perhaps angry with yourself, or you will remain at the bottom of their hole as lost and lonely as they are. And if you do return to the top, you may be shocked, saddened and shattered by the experience. Some of you might even dig your own hole, and lie down there for a very long time.

The key is, don't accept invitations to travel down somebody else's rabbit hole unless you are mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically ready to do so. Your reasons and motivations must be crystal clear. Your self-awareness must be very high. Your ego must be strong and fit.

Only by being highly aware of our own and others' motivations and mindsets, can you remain safe and secure at the edge of other peoples' rabbit holes. Practically, this means recognizing and actively fighting against those parts of your own personality which lures you down rabbit holes.

Through conscious awareness of yourself, you have to develop the ability to decline invitations to journey down into other peoples' rabbit holes. This means you have to learn to say "no!" to those whose emotional and physiological motivations do not have your best interests at heart.

Don't travel down rabbit holes unless you are certain of what lies at the bottom, and what your own personal strategies, motivations and goals are. Don't travel down somebody else's rabbit hole unless there is something unselfishly in it for you -- your own self-awareness, self-development, or self-understanding. Otherwise, best leave this adventure to the qualified experts.

You can only truly emotionally, mentally and spiritually support others when you stand firmly and resplendently in the sunlight your own self-knowledge, when with calm conviction you can balance yourself upon the edges of rabbit holes, grateful and content to help those who are seeking -- and actively working on -- improving and strengthening their own self-development.

Everyone has a purpose. Know yours in order to help others.