Mindfulness: Top Ten Conflict Tips

One of the underlying principles of this blog is that conflict should be handled mindfully: being aware of our thoughts and reflecting on them, and attending to the conflicts within ourselves, as well as those in the outside world. Recently my FB friend Andrea B in Madrid commented on the tens of thousands of thoughts we have each day, and I responded with a few thoughts. She suggested I enlarge on them, and so I thought I would blog about it, and dedicate the posting to Andrea, and her marvelous Facebook Page at  https://www.facebook.com/RebelleSociety And also to my friend the Wave Rider, just leaving Delhi for London, who might also enjoy these thoughts. I have developed my thoughts as one of Top Ten Conflict Tips to keep it concise and usable:

  1. Surface your Mental Conflicts. We often deny we have internal conflict and certainly avoid/deny we have external conflict. So it festers, and keeps haunting us until we deal with it. Dealing with it upfront at an appropriate time when we are able to focus on our dilemmas and internal/external conflict frees up a lot of time from it messing with you, because you don’t deal with it. And I suggest you do the facing up in writing so you can come back to it and when you deal with it you focus on it and avoid distractions as much as possible, ideally at the time of day when you are at your best physiologically.
  2. Write in a journal every day. As per Julia Cameron’s excellent book ‘The Artist’s Way’ I try to write three pages of whatever comes into my head each morning. This allows me to download a whole lot of thoughts that would pester me all day, and also gives me something to look back over and see where I have traveled mentally.
  3. Walk when you walk, talk when you talk, die when you die. This is the essence of Buddhist mindfulness, and suggests we focus on what we are doing, in the now, whether cleaning our teeth, eating lunch or connecting to a friend and their problems. That way we live in the now. Of course sometimes we need to plan, anticipate, and even be anxious. But dedicate some time to this and don’t let it interfere all day with the now. Plan when you plan. Be anxious when you are anxious. Die when you die….
  4. Welcome your demons in for tea. We all have demons: mental pains, fears etc that haunt us, often from the past, bad things that happened to us, perhaps in childhood, and we often react to them by continuous activity in the outside world, or in the buzzing confusion of our minds, determined not to let the negative thoughts, the demons from our past, get any traction. As a result they are constantly there, knocking on the door of our attention, until we are exhausted with the fight to stop them intruding. I have found it better to set aside a little time to actually invite them in for tea, and interview my demons to find out what their beef is. Somehow they don’t harm me and quickly resolve into just another part of me that is quite comfortable once accepted.
  5. Practice the 3 Minute Meditation during your working day. On busy days when we are driven to distraction by the stream of events coming at us, it may help to take a 3 minute time out, perhaps in the rest room and practice this quick technique. Sit somewhere quiet, where you will not be interrupted, and sit comfortably. Shut your eyes and breath slowly and deeply in and out then: 1)For one minute do a body scan starting with your toes and moving all the way to the top of your head and part by part see where any bodily tension is and breath through it to ease the tension. If there is pain, note the pain and maybe see if you know what causes it?  2) For one minute let all the crazy confused thoughts that your mind is having simply ricochet around in your head: the more the merrier, while you continue to breath slowly and deeply. 3) Finally for another minute, try to empty your head and notice each thought that tries to intrude, and then let it go and slowly empty your head without any blame if you can’t. Do this maybe three times in a busy day and if you like slowly extend the third step maybe in a session when you get home. No blame if your head won’t empty to begin with: it will in time.
  6. If you have a difficult problem focus on it rather than let it constantly drive rumination. I find this easiest to do in writing, but however you do it, it means like Tip #1 above that you actually dedicate some quality time to thinking about any difficult problem and then sleep on it rather than let it be one of the churning thoughts of your day.
  7. Practice ‘After Action Reviews’. Most of us spend a lot of time blaming ourselves for our mistakes and beating up on ourselves. I learned this technique of ‘After Action Reviews’ from the US military who after any action, project, whatever are trained to ask (again in writing if possible so you can look back at it and learn) three simple questions about what happened: What went well, what didn’t go so well and what would you do differently next time aka what did you learn. This means you don’t need to spend hours blaming yourself or others but frame any activity as a learning experience, and only the failure to learn is something to be concerned about and even then you can do an After Action Review on why you didn’t learn. And when you are doing something similar in future, look at the After Action Reviews on similar things and start with their learning.
  8. Listen to yourself and others. Most of us are not very good listeners to ourselves and this means we don’t listen to others either. And by listen I mean hear and ask questions and reflect on the answers. Spend some time and don’t respond with quick solutions, responses….
  9. Show compassion for self as a means to show compassion to others. I know a great many people in the caring professions, who constantly risk and often experience burn out, because while they are trying to show compassion to other people with major problems, they don’t apply the same approach to their own. This means their own problems are constantly getting in the way, because they are never dealt with, and so they get mixed up with the problems of the people they are trying to help. That does nobody any good as so they end up neither showing full compassion to others because they can’t show it to themselves. Charity begins at home in the self.
  10. Make up your own tenth step of something else that would work for you to help you live more mindfully and reflect on, experiment with, modify the other nine steps so they work for you. As Bob Dylan sang: ‘Don’t follow leaders, watch your parking meters’. I don’t know any more than you do; I am just a fellow pilgrim on the road who makes many mistakes…Let me know if any of this works for you?
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About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Processes, Creativity and Conflict, Marital and Relationship Conflict, PERSONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CREATIVE STRATEGIES, Top Ten Conflict Tips from Great Thinkers, Uncategorized, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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