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Can We Consistently Redirect Conflict to Our Favor?

Uncomfortable situations almost always contain valuable information or a lesson. I have found that if I ask what lies beneath my discomfort I discover more about myself and how I relate to others.
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Lead with the Tau and negativity has no power. The energy is not repressed but redirected so that it does not harm. -- Lau Tzu, Tau 60.

Physics and Eastern theology converge in one important insight: that all creation is comprised of dynamic energy patterns. Everything, including our bodies, our emotional responses and our physical movements, is energy. Through this knowledge we can redirect anger, hostility or any other type of negative energy. If we recognize when we are experiencing anxiety, it allows for an affirmative defense. We can pivot our thinking and thereby alter the reality of the current life situation. If you are aware of your trigger points you are less likely to act them out.

I was introduced to this lovely girl in Chicago; most would consider her a 10 physically and mentally. We had endless conversations on the phone and had so much in common. We were both finally in the same city and were able to have dinner at my favorite Chicago restaurant. Dinner went well, and the chemistry was obvious, and so date two was set up. Same experience. I was excited -- someone who loves my writing and enjoys discussing like-minded topics endlessly. This could be the one, I thought. Then a few dates down the road, I noticed her energy would change. She would get defensive, and this turned into aggressive, critical words. She would then break things off.

The first time I was left bewildered. She had responded to something said but the gravity of the conversation was so lighthearted and superficial that it did not match up with her response. I took the lower position, centered myself, and accepted full responsibility, apologizing profusely. Within 24 hours we were back in the saddle again, enjoying amazing conversations, holding hands as we gazed into each other's eyes. This "break it off pattern" happened three more times in the next few dates. I realized that this young lady was not reacting to me; she was reacting to trigger points that were being touched, resulting in what I would term the "let me end this before you do" response. I believe in academic circles this might be referred to as fight or flight. She chose fight first and flight moments later.

We were obviously a great pair: She was lovely, and I am amazing. The closer we got the clearer the rise in fear level became. Each time I used the same approach of taking the lower position, as I was taught by my elders. Each time the fight and flight response became more elevated to the point, in my mind, this relationship was sadly over. Too inefficient, I thought. Couples therapy before even dating a month? Not so much.

Uncomfortable situations almost always contain valuable information or a lesson. I have found that if I ask what lies beneath my discomfort I discover more about myself and how I relate to others. A few questions I ask myself:

When were the circumstances of the last interchange, and is there a pattern at play?

What specifically about the situation upset me?

What can I learn from this interchange?

One response that I learned while doing research in ancient Eastern martial arts was centering. Drop down to center and literally focus your energy into your "hara," a spot two inches below the navel. Place your attention at the hara and then move it down and up through the entire body, relaxing muscles as you go, until the entire body is relaxed. Centered and relaxed, we can meet any conflict with power and grace. The Eastern paradox that is used in the art of war and martial arts is to maintain the strength of bamboo, being both strong and soft. In doing so we are able to blend with the energies around us. We can transcend dualism -- I am right and you are wrong -- and perceive new creative options, allowing us to prevail in difficult situations. When we respond from ego, which is fear-based and judgmental, we are always off-center and offer up negative energy.

My date was not seeking resolve in her outbreak; she was running scared, like in Don Quixote, swinging at windmills. You need to be centered within yourself to respond with right action. Centering requires a positive sense of ourselves. The greater our self-esteem the more centered we feel. Practicing the process of becoming centered enhances our sense of self. We then respond to life situations from a place of love and compassion, seeking creative options and always seeking positive resolution. This may sound like weakness to some, but I can assure you the strength of bamboo is both soft and strong while remaining highly functional. Even today the Chinese use bamboo for scaffolding that goes up 20-30 stories.

Centered and strong, we become more aware of the energies around us. We move to the side and get out of the line of fire (conflict). Then we move forward to transform conflict by blending with our opponent, redirecting their energies. In physical confrontations, blending means actually moving with the other person's body to redirect energy of their opposing power. In Aikido, graceful movements send the opponent rolling away in gentle spirals, overcoming without harming the aggressor. The same response works in non-physical confrontations.

Honor all energies both negative and positive, as you do; no harm is done and our essential character is affirmed and elevated. All energy has the potential for either good or bad. Like electricity, it can either kill us or light up our homes. When we start judging, remember that saints and sinners are always exchanging notes and one cannot be without the other. A saint was once a sinner, and a sinner creates a job for a saint.

Many thanks for your "likes" and thoughtful commentary. Your participation is appreciated and your recognition is always honored.

Best, Peter

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