Kim Hwang, PsyD
Conflict is everywhere! It’s difficult to leave your house in the morning without being exposed to conflict.
A cognitive psychologist would likely suggest that reframing conflicts as an opportunity for growth is all you need to have a happier day, week and life? Yet, turn on your television, read the latest news cycle or try to get your family out of the front door before the school bus drives away, without experiencing one or two “conflicts/opportunities.”
In the meantime, most western magazines seem to have a plethora of answers to how to solve most problems: inner conflicts, relationships, disagreements with your boss, how to deal with difficult people and family members.
There are usually 5-6 quick and seamless steps which outline how to save your marriage, how to get your adolescent child to joyfully visit with you at the dinner table and how to provide for your family while living below the poverty line. Are these really the kind of opportunities that are going to help us reach enlightenment and launch us out of a state of conflict?
We’ve all come across many articles that discuss in some length Eastern philosophy which features stories about, how everyone can achieve enlightenment in typically 30 days or less. It’s as if there is now some quasi western/eastern fast track to wisdom and enlightenment, like dieting and healthy living. Typically, these articles suggest easy enough steps to follow, but after a few days, most people realize that if the steps stated were as easy as 1-2-3, you would have probably done the aforementioned a long time ago?
Opportunities to evaluate conflict are abundant, whether they are conflicts at home, at work or inner conflicts. It seems that we are plagued with one conflict/opportunity after another to address situations and changes we are not always prepared to face.
Is there a legitimate difference between viewing a problem as a conflict versus an opportunity? Is this the quintessential difference between people who seem quietly content versus those who seem anxiously wound up, ready to bully and squeeze the life out of the perceived and weaker victim?
Some psychological studies related to stress indicate that your outlook to a potential change is extremely essential, because your input towards finding a solution is dependent on your overall attitude and emotional intention. If you are driven by intense and negative conflict, inner stress, insecurity, fear, anxiety and a desperate need for an illusion of power and distrust, a cycle of conflict will likely haunt you in your own life.
However, if you approach what is identified as something that needs to be changed, motivated from a desire to “ . . . drag your brain over to the other side . . .” (MD in Minneapolis), include others whom you respect in your decisions, gain perspectives from those you trust and view change as an opportunity to tell yourself the truth about ways in which you desire to grow, you are more likely to break a negative cycle of conflict and begin empowering yourself towards more creative and constructive solutions.
These solutions will not only benefit you, but in the end those around you as well. So go to yoga, Pilates, meditation, stone massage therapy and buy in excess as much exercise equipment as an Olympic athlete, but consider that we remain wounded and in conflict if we don’t begin to, “. . . drag our brain towards thinking differently . . .” (MD, Minneapolis). What’s the risk? The risk is participating in the same negative cycle over and over again.
Never ending compassionate healing and achieving everlasting peace are articles in magazines. While we can integrate healthier choices into our lives, conflict and change are inevitable. Hopefully, we get better and some of us may be lucky enough to even one day become more efficient.
However, psychologists, Asian philosophers, mental health practioners, medical doctors, holistic healers almost all predict, that outlook truly effects outcome. Opportunities are hidden in conflicts. Moments of enlightenment occur over time, through relationships and within the changes we experience.
Rather than see everything as a problem, open up to the opportunity. It might just change your path? Breaking the cycle of conflict may even open up a path towards increased enlightened opportunities? What do you have to lose?