It really sucks to have unnecessary conflict in our lives.
Sh*t happens, ya know? Life is complicated, and we’re bound to bump heads with each other somewhere along the way. There is miscommunication. There’s “he said she said.” There’s ego. It’s almost funny, but I’m realizing that it’s a hell of a lot easier to cause trouble than to create peace most of the time.
This is what it comes down to: human beings are capable of being hurt, and are also capable of hurting others—and quite often, these two things come together in an unfortunate synthesis.
For me, the real problem is that we’re not very good at saying what we actually feel. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to express ourselves honestly, especially in crucial moments when the heat is on? It’s hard, man. We f*ck up. We say stupid things that we don’t mean in order to protect ourselves. So many of us are chock-full of childhood trauma, lingering sorrow from our battered past, and all of the stains on our soul, that this makes it incredibly difficult to communicate with and relate to other people without these deeper feelings being triggered.
To be honest, I have a few people in my life who I would be wary of seeing if we ran into each other at a coffee shop or something. It sucks. I hate that feeling. All I want to do is tell everyone in my life that I love them and everything is going to be fine—but when lines have been crossed, toes have been stepped on, and nerves have been touched, the desire to express love and make peace often becomes a childlike need to endlessly harmonize a situation out of fear or guilt. It doesn’t help, no matter how badly we want to make things right.
Unconditional love for others must be met with an undying respect for oneself, and that’s something I’ve had a tricky time with in the past.
I’ve been trying to learn how to deal with conflict like an adult, which oddly enough is something very few people are actually able to do. There are not too many folks I can turn to for guidance, really. When a personal problem comes up with someone, no matter how prestigious or cultivated we might be on the outside, there’s a good chance that we’re going to act like a child if the right buttons get pushed. You know what I’m talking about, fam.
“Oh no, that’s not me.”
I can hear your ego through the screen. Yes. In fact, it is you. We’re all capable of being this way.
So, what would that would even look like? What does it mean to be truly mature about the conflict we face in our lives? I think it has something to do with having peace in our hearts, in the deepest sense.
The thing about people is that if we’re not careful, we’re only going to add to any conflict that comes up in our lives. Of course, we can’t see how we’re doing this, because it’s happening unconsciously. We unconsciously project our own dissatisfaction and unhappiness onto the situation—and this just escalates any problem we might have with someone to the point where it could become irreparable.
To have peace in our hearts means to truly be coming from a place of conviction, compassion, and equanimity—and only from here can we positively affect the conflict situations in our lives, or at the very least not make things significantly worse.
So, how can we make peace in the world if we live in a state of inner conflict?
I feel like all of the fights I’ve had with people (that didn’t end up being solved) happened when both of us were emotionally triggered and were only contributing negativity to the situation. There was an absence of peace in my heart, and that manifested itself in the eventual confrontation.
I’ve been finding a handful of things that have been helping me connect with a peaceful heart and avoid unnecessary conflict in my life.
For one, no matter what is happening on the outside, we should always bring attention to what’s going on within ourselves. When I’m caught up in the roundabout cycle of my daily life, I’m always trying to be aware of how I am—not just what I’m doing. I like to ask myself how I’m feeling inside, what I’m longing for, what’s happening in my body—really anything that’s involved in my own state of consciousness.
The more aware we are of how we feel inside—the deeper parts of ourselves—the less susceptible to creating conflict we become. Why? Because it’s the stuff we don’t see within us that really causes trouble. Our blind spots. Our limiting beliefs. Our “pain body.” That’s the sh*t that creeps up on us and wreaks havoc in our relationships.
What’s been helpful in cultivating a peaceful heart is realizing how I don’t know anything. It’s actually really cathartic to recognize how dumb we are. It’s liberating to dwell in a space of “not knowing,” where we are aware of how much we actually don’t know. Upholding the child’s playful mind and being open to the fact that we often might be wrong, gets rid of a lot of that annoying self-righteous attitude that our ego often projects.
It’s better to know how little we know, than to pretend we have all of the answers. A lot of the time, it’s that false sense of certainty that creates conflict in our lives. Being more open-minded and curious about the world helps dissolve that misplaced feeling of certainty and replaces it with a softer and more humble approach to life.
Lastly, I like to practice being grateful for everything in my life. Learning to have gratitude for our experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly—prevents us from succumbing to the ever present possibility of looming bitterness. When we’re truly grateful for our relationships, for our home, for our abilities, for every next breath we take, and every bite of food we receive—it’s really impossible to build up resentment for the sheer burden of being alive. Our mentality switches from one of scarcity to one of abundance; and when we look at life through the eyes of abundance, we have little interest in creating conflict—consciously or unconsciously.
It’s simple, really. When we have peace in our hearts, we’re not going to start sh*t with people—and if people start sh*t with us, we’ll be able to handle it like an adult without getting triggered. Life is crazy enough, we don’t need to add to it with our own insanity.
We can cultivate a peaceful heart by bringing awareness to what’s happening inside, being comfortable “not knowing,” and introducing a bit of gratitude to our daily lives. Easy cheesy. Just connect with how magical life really is, and let that magic spill over into your own life. In the words of Will Smith in the film, “Men In Black”: “Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing.” I’d say that’s a good ethic.