It’s a new year and a new daily prompt! My life follows a flow of waves, some bring me to shore and give me time to post daily. Others take me on journeys. I ride the waves to see where I will go each time one grabs me and takes me for a ride. This […]
That’s just it, isn’t it. Today’s prompt is struggle. And, after all, who among us want’s to struggle?
Struggles can be good if the outcome is learning or an increase in welfare.
Struggles are not comfortable. They take us away from our comfort zone. To struggle is to be in the midst of conflict: internal or external.
I promised a poem since it has been a while since I wrote one. So, here goes.
Who wants a struggle?
Who wants to make forceful efforts to be free?
Does the end justify the means?
Does wriggling and writhing within
the confines of a wall
so tightly constricting movement
help us break free?
Once free, what then?
Do we break free and walk on
saying, thank you I have done my job
I am free to be
But will you keep your foot down
restricting the next guy
struggling, wriggling, writhing
Is my battle the only one to be won?
Where is the circle of life
that feeds the soul of living?
Who frees the spirit
confined by years of thought
manufactured to create boundaries
where one can soar above it all
and gain the widest perspective
What struggle is it
when people are killed
in senseless actions
ignited in flames of emotion
so hardly understood
what about that struggle?
The struggle of souls yearning
to be free, to play, to love
It touches me
tears the passion
breaks the love
wondering why we can’t be
free from ugly hate
the struggle is so often unseen
walls that prevent
some from seeing the truth
beyond the wall.
The featured image is by Priscilla Westra from Unsplash. I really appreciate all the images on Unsplash. Please leave a comment! I love to hear from you!
“Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” –Mahatma Gandhi
This is yet another word that relates to the work I do in not only conflict resolution but also intercultural communication. This is yet another word with lots of different connotations. On the one hand understanding is simple comprehension. On the other, however, it implies an awareness of feelings and a tolerance of others. On another note, it is also used to connote insight and good judgement.
With regard to comprehension the solution should be simple: pay attention to the words that are spoken. Yet, with regard to awareness and tolerance, understanding reveals a relational aspect. To really understand indicates that we “get it”, that we are aware of what is being said or done. The tolerance part of understanding is questionable. How often have you heard people say, “I understand, but I don’t agree.”
Understanding is the first step, though, in finding a way back to a relationship that is broken due to conflict. It is the one thing, also, that people feel is lost when in the middle of a conflict. How many times have I heard my husband tell me, “I get it. I understand what you are saying,” but I felt, “Hey, you don’t get me at all!”
So, understanding needs agreement, then? It can’t be one person saying, “I understand,” and the other saying, “No you don’t!” Understanding implies both people in a communication agree that understanding has been reached. This is the most important part of understanding. Being able to agree that there is a true awareness that is supported by the other person’s agreement that “you got me”. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but the miracle of real understanding where agreement is reached is that then tolerance is reached. When I see two people in a conflict conversation suddenly shift their perspective towards understanding, I watch them agree to disagree. I watch them willing to understand the perspective of the other and become empowered to say, “I get it. It may not be something I want to agree with, but because I now understand, I can honor your perspective as well as my own.”
So, that brings us to the final definition of understanding: insight and good judgment. When understanding is reached, especially in the midst of a conflict, that shift or change leads towards a recognition and “insight” that really does change the way we communicate with each other. The amazing thing to me is that we get along and love so many people who are different from us. The secret ingredient to those successful relationships is understanding.
In intercultural communication understanding is the key towards being able to build effective relationships across cultures. Cultural differences in understanding include different values, beliefs, and perceptions that challenge communication. Assuming we understand the other is a mistake many people make when living and working in other cultures. The “ah-ha” moment comes when we suddenly realize a difference that has perplexed us. Once we reach an understanding of the different perspective or way of being in the world, we generally find it easier and more enjoyable to build closer relationships. This, again, brings new insight moments as we truly reach an understanding.
I think I am in love with this word! I love that it has so many nuances and ways to discover! Reaching understanding seems like a true gift!
So, this word of the day is coming a day later. But, can understanding ever really come too late?
The image at the top of the page reminded me of understanding in the intimacy of the puppies. That connection and need are a part of understanding to me. The image is a painting by Tricia Calvert. You can see more of her images on Instagram.
Please feel free to leave me a message or just say hi! I love to hear from you!!
Today’s prompt is transformation. That was today’s prompt and today’s story. Today I transformed an angry, frustrating morning to a peaceful and fulfilling evening.
My credo is: conflict is a crisis in human interaction. That’s how it’s described in transformative mediation. Certainly in my personal life, the conflict that matter is the conflict I have with those I love and care for.
I volunteer regularly at the Dayton Mediation Center and have acted as a contractor for this organization as well. I am very proud of the work I have done with the Center and pride myself on being resolute on being a positive role model to others learning how to mediate in the transformative model. Our model believes that people have the ability to resolve their own conflicts and that our role is to listen so that they can move from the frustration they feel to a more comfortable place to be able to make decisions about their conflict.
Recently, I mediated a case for the mediation center. I was satisfied that the decisions I made (i.e. which parts of the conversation should be reflected back or helping the parties make decisions about their conflict) were positive contributions to the conversation the parties were having. The challenge was providing these interventions with an interpreter in the room which added an extra layer of tension. Afterward, a concern arose about how the interpreter acted and whether or not we should provide training to our interpreters so they can better assist us in the mediation process.
During our debrief discussion, I came away feeling frustrated and not heard or understood. I am struggling to admit that I may have misunderstood the intentions of my colleague. I felt blamed for something I didn’t feel was my responsibility. I was probably reacting out of fatigue and frustration and not to what was being said in the conversation.
Nevertheless, I didn’t express the frustration I was feeling. I went home thinking I would address it later. You know, the old “I’ll think about this later.” trick of conflict non-resolution.
A few days later I got an e-mail thanking me for my contribution to the Center and reflecting back the concerns that were expressed during our debrief. And then, that “I’ll take care of it later” came rushing to the surface in feelings of hurt and anger.
There I was feeling angry, frustrated, unheard, misunderstood. I wrote a quick sharp e-mail complaining about this “thank you” letter. The response was nicely worded and explained the intention of the staff member. I did answer with a little less anger and also added that I did not need a thank you letter, thank you very much!
Regardless, I was still holding this huge emotion. I was pacing the floor. I was ready to pounce on anyone who entered the room. I was stewing. I contemplated how I would walk away from the world or how I would hide in a hole for the rest of my life!
I wanted to write a blog post or watch a comedy show or read a book. But, my mind would not sit still. It kept revisiting my most unreasonable emotional response. In spite of my emotions, I was fully aware that I was not being reasonable. Knowing I am not being reasonable does not seem to help me get to reasonable.
Finally, I had a brilliant idea! I will call another mediator and ask her if she would let me tell her my story, talk through my emotions. I was very lucky that she was free when I called. And, I was astounded at how quickly I started to feel this huge emotion lift from my like a weighted blanket floating away. All she did was to reflect back what I said so that I knew she had listened. She asked me if I wanted to define next steps and I didn’t need them.
That was it! Presto, chango and I felt like a new person. It took fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes and I has a miracle cure for my ailing mind. All of the animosity I felt towards my colleagues and my embarrassment (interesting how that was yesterday’s word) disappeared.
So, today, in the midst of thinking what to write about this word, I experienced this word. I experienced the transformation of my own emotional state from anger and frustration to a serenity that is exactly how I like to be!
Here is a secret I want to share with you. Listening really is a gift you can give to others. Really just letting someone vent their emotions and feelings is one of the most powerful gifts you can give. If you are in need, let someone gift you their ear!
Thanks to Janet Mueller from the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation. She was an excellent listener and is a most valued colleague.
Please feel free to leave a comment. I love to hear from you!
The word prompt today is connected. It should be an easy word to prompt me to write. I passed up playful and smooth. They evoked some thoughts, but no action.
How we connect with one another is a central theme in all that I do and believe in. Connectedness is central to relationship building. But, it is also important to ideas and thoughts — to creativity.
So, here are the ways I love to connect.
- I listen. I have worked hard over the years to learn how to listen. I admit I do have this nasty habit of interrupting. Often, my thoughts spill out of my mouth way too soon. In that way, I am not connected. Yet, when I need to or when I see the other person needs me to, I have learned to stop and really listen. Listening means making sure I also ask questions and clarify my understanding.
- I love the diversity each individual brings to the table. I love being with and listening to people from very different backgrounds from my own. I can be with someone from any country or region in the world and learn something new. I can also be with someone from a very, different socio-economic background and listen to their stories. It is all about learning a different perspective. Like looking at any one thing from different angles gives us a different view of the same subject; so, too, does listening to someone from a different culture, ethnicity, neighborhood, or experience.
- I am creative. I can take an idea and attach another idea to it and make it new. Or, I can find a different way of looking at a problem, a new perspective, and bring about a creative solution to an old problem. It is all about making new connections or gaining new perspectives.
Sometimes I think the act of being connected is the most important concept we have in life. We can’t survive without it. Children who don’t have the privilege of human touch and love (i.e. connection) fail to thrive. Later in life, if we don’t have important relationships to help us through the difficult times, we fail to thrive. And, if we don’t have connections in business, our businesses fail to thrive.
I think being intentional is the most powerful thing we can do for ourselves. Being intentional, living with purpose, means choosing our own direction, deciding our own future, designing the gifts from the past, and living in our own present.
I love the concept. It requires a little more effort than reacting to events every day. It required a lot of self-reflection and decision-making.
I am constantly balancing my life between a number of passions. I love the work I do in intercultural communication and in conflict resolution. I love all the creative and innovative projects I work on. I love being able to give back to my community. I love the diversity that comes from all the interesting people I meet and interact with. I love the scientists, the artists, the struggling, and the accomplished!
All the above passions are highlighted by the fact that I try to live an intentional life. I intentionally seek out diverse people. I intentionally open myself to new experiences and ideas. I intentionally decide to do work that helps others. I intentionally decide to learn and grow.
To get to where I am now, living and enjoying the present, I had to review my past. Every time I see myself at a crossroads, I revisit that past for clues about what to plan for the future. I don’t attach myself to my future plans. Rather, I enjoy my present state and put things in place for my dreamed future. If it happens, I will be grateful. If not, I will redesign the future, reviewing the past, listening to my internal self, and paving a pathway towards a new future.
That is life with purpose. Because to choose the future, I also partner with my values and beliefs. The most important inform my plans and dreams. The least important are noticed and saved or discarded depending on what I feel needs to be done.
The most important realization for me is that being intentional means I have much more control about how I feel and react in this world. I have the control to let go of past injustices or circumstance and make my life a positive example for others. Or, at the very least a positive example for me!
This post was written for the Daily Prompt: Purpose.
Please leave a comment or let me know what you thought about today’s post! I look forward (REALLY!) to hearing from you.
In response to today’s writing prompt: Saga
To me, the word saga means a tale or story. I picture Norsemen sitting around a campfire telling stories, their helmets lying on the ground beside them. They talk of their battles; the successes and the defeats. I picture them passing on knowledge through these tales.
It reminds me of a recent book I read. It is an entertaining saga by E. Michael Bosso called Cherisse. What strikes me about Michael’s tale is the way the conflict develops between the married couple and the interaction with a third person. In my opinion, the interaction between Mary and her husband, Steve. The book is told from Steve’s point of view and we watch as he transforms himself and other’s around him.
Steve and Mary don’t know how to talk to one another. More importantly, they don’t know how to listen to one another. They are constantly thinking the worst of one another. As a married couple, they have grown distant and are only going through the motions of being married without any of the joy they once had. Their communication patterns are classic. Instead of saying what they feel, they reply in sarcasm and retort. Even when they try to bridge the gap, they don’t take the extra step to open up and talk to each other about how they really feel.
In this novel, there is a third party, Cherisse. She acts as a witness to their interaction. In a way, she acts as a mediator, but not an impartial one. Cherisse tries to tell them indirectly through her own life history (her own saga, if you will) how important it is to listen to one another. She especially tell’s Steve again and again that he needs to LISTEN, something he struggles with due to his own faulty assumptions.
What I love about this story is the transformation that takes place in Mary and Steve’s interactions — how it moves from not being able to talk to one another, to breaking down completely, to building back in a positive way. This is an excellent example of how transformative mediation transforms the interactions of people in conflict.
Although Cherisse is not a mediator and has a bias, she still acts as a neutral party to the conflict. Also, all of the work ultimately is done by Mary and Steve who finally find their own way through the conflict. Once they start to recognize each other’s different needs and ways of doing things, they become more empowered to act in a different manner and open up to more possibilities in their relationship.
This is why I say that listening is a skill. It can help keep our relationships positive and build new ones or repair ones that have cracks. And, the saga can continue. Conflict breaks the continuity in our relationships, listening builds it over generations. And the beat goes on…