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Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

I run from conflict.

[Perceived personal attacks or criticisms trigger my flight-or-flight response (no, that’s not a typo).]

That’s not entirely true. Let’s be honest here. Most often, when an interaction turns antagonistic, I freeze.

[Apparently, freezing is a natural fear response to give the mammal in question (me) time to assess the situation before fighting or flighting.]

Whatever the biology… I. Don’t. Like. Conflict. Big revelation, right? I mean, who does? Except for maybe lawyers, rappers, and Jerry Springer, that is. But it’s more than just a preference for some of us. For me, it’s become something that causes me to isolate myself and avoid the kinds of long-term relationships that are important to happiness and growth. Even the potential of conflict causes an obsessive whirlwind of stressful thoughts and feelings.

I am so conflict averse that I’ve become a chronically single solo entrepreneur who earns most of his income from sitting alone writing.

Hi, my name is Curtis. I’m a conflict aversion addict. And I’m ready for a change.

Step 4 of any Twelve-Step program suggests taking a “fearless moral inventory” of oneself. Knowing and accepting who you are (the full picture, the “good” and “bad”) and why you are who you are, are prerequisites for conscious growth.

So let’s start by taking a trip to the past…

Looking to my formative years, my conflicts consisted of fighting with my younger sister over limited resources (mom’s attention, the one television, the front seat of the car, etc.) and fighting with my parents about their reasonable and unreasonable rules of behavior. A common enough childhood experience, I imagine.

I’m not aware of many (if any) “scarring” level conflicts with either my mother or sister. They may exist, but if they do, they’ve long been forgotten by my conscious mind. I was the older brother, my mom was very loving and fair, and the conflicts I do remember were resolved quickly and relatively unemotionally.

My conflicts with my father are a different story. I remember them being quite intense. Turned up to 11.

My dad’s rules seemed arbitrary, his standards impossible to meet. Conflict with him felt very unfair and defeat felt personal.

Therefore, it seems that my most emotionally-heightened experiences of conflict at that formative age were extremely one-sided and I often (always?) lost.

In that context, learning to avoid conflict seems like a necessary survival skill for my child self. The problem is applying that survival skill now as an adult in situations where it’s not effective or appropriate.

Adult Curtis: Poor, predictable Curtis. Always chooses conflict avoidance.
Child Curtis: Good ol’ conflict avoidance! Nothing beats that!

Okay, moral inventory complete. [Not quite, but this is a blog post. Move along, nothing to see here.]

So what about that change I’m apparently ready for?

The answer seems to be more exposure to people. More investment in relationships of all kinds. More structures in my life that “force” me to interact with others in messy, emotional ways. More risk taking. More vulnerability and trust. More authentic communication. More beer. Okay, not more beer. Less beer. Less emotional eating. Less obsessive people pleasing. Less thinking and more feeling. Most importantly, less hiding.

So here I am, coming out of hiding. What are your thoughts, suggestions, experiences? Conflict is welcome in the comments below. [I think. No definitely. Just be nice, okay? Or fuck it, be mean. Let’s do this. I’m ready. I think.]

Thank you.

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Emotional state today: Up

Triumvirate complete: Sat for meditation, wrote, worked out. Stark contrast to yesterday. I felt good about things today.

Today was Workout E, seven sets each of 10 lunges and 10 burpees. I completed the full workout in 21 minutes, the same amount of time as last time. But this time it felt easier. I probably could have pushed myself to a higher level of intensity, but I was being very attentive to my knee so that there would be no pain.

I had a very intense conversation (argument?) with a friend today. What was great about this is that I usually avoid conflicts like this at all costs. And when I can’t avoid them, they make me extremely uncomfortable, to the point where I get flustered and can’t think straight. But today I was able to maintain an intensity of style without the intensity of emotion. I felt relatively detached. I still cared very much about my argument and felt it (and the relationship with my friend) was worth the intensity and energy, but I didn’t feel that my sense of self was being threatened. This is maybe the first time I’ve ever experience conflict like this.

I can’t help but think that this experience is the result of the shifts I’ve made in these 100 days.

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Duration of today’s sit: 20 minutes

Today felt totally old school.

I woke up not wanting to get up, wanting to hide from the day. Definitely did not feel like sitting. I had no compelling vision of the day or the week, or of life, though that sounds extreme. I wasn’t anti-life. Just not enrolled.

I procrastinated for about 30 minutes before making my way to the cushion.

During my sit, my mind was very agitated with elaborated thoughts of worry and conflict. I concentrated on the 3-part object but there were many distractions. I grounded myself in the feeling body, which would calm the mind a degree or two, until the next big thought grabbed it and ran.

But I think there was indeed an overall calming effect over the course of the sit because by the end I was able to create short periods of highly concentrated and continuous staying.

Tonight, I will set myself up with a compelling vision for the following day to see what effect that has on my morning sit.

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