In-the-moment process of conflict from Jonathan Hillis

Updated: Oct 25

I literally sat down to process in my journal what I'm feeling and the following came out. Hope it can lend some insight and compassion to you, wherever you are, however you are doing.

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It's so strange how one off-putting, offensive, unprepared, and strange experience can have enough weight to disrupt your whole day. The last few days have been incredible. I've had some of the most wonderful, meaningful conversations and opportunities happen to me recently, yet as I sit down to write, knowing I have some great things on my mind and clarity about how I want to articulate them; I am stopped abruptly by this spiraling conversation of conflict that happened in the briefest of moments today.


My desire to write about things that are directly helpful to what I'm currently experiencing is hindered. All I want to do is go correct the "wrong" that's been done. I want to fix the mistake and clarify the miscommunication. To go and convince the truth of the matter. Yet, I am so uninterested in attempting to do this because I know in this situation it won't truly help, it won't meet the core thing I need, or what the other end of the conflict needs. I feel the chaos of the moment and I know that curiosity is imperative for this experience of hardship and growth; but I'm in the tension of holding what has been my past reality and programmed way of operating, against this more compassionate, connected, defenseless self that I know produces more love in and around my life.


It's akin to the Facebook experiences I've heard about where people "Unfriend" or "Block" one another because of the injustice and shame that's being piled onto one another in their heated debates through words on a screen. In some ways I've balked at that experience thinking how petty these people were that they couldn't back down off their platform of power, proclaiming their opinion to be of the utmost importance for others to know. Now, I see how easily conflict can grow into a raging river you can't get out of. Along the way you even have moments where your heads crests out of the water and you question yourself with something like, "What am I doing? How did I get here? This is not even that important to me... I don't even know if I believe what I'm saying..." but your head quickly gets pushed back down into the tumultuous waters ramping you up for more critical and aggressive action to be taken. "Well that's it, we aren't "Facebook friends" anymore, and in fact, I'm going to tell all my "friends" about how terrible of an experience I had so they Block you too, and maybe justice will be served when you get banned!"


Granted my experience wasn't necessarily anything close to this, or some political debate–which seems to be happening daily throughout my feed. (How did I end up having so many friends who not only disagree with one another but also feel inclined to argue about it through my Facebook posts?) Regardless, I think I experienced what Brené Brown refers to from Theodore Roosevelt's saying, that I'm in the arena with my face down in the dirt.


When I can validate this place I'm in, I can accept this discomfort rather than trying to fix the thing that made feel this way in the first place. Once I've accepted it with self-tolerance, I can care for it with self-compassion. I can get back up, check the mud on my face, clean it off, see if there are any real major wounds that need attention and continue forward. Then as I keep moving I experience gratitude for that tension-filled moment that I lived through and survived.


I didn't have to fix it, and instead I find safety within again, and it's not only genuine but it lasts. I realize, I no longer feel the stiff and stressed places in my body that were there in the midst of the conflict. In a way, those sensations in my body happened to protect me from the perceived threat, but I'm in danger no longer–and it's not because I went and slew what I thought was the enemy. Instead, I responded with true love and felt a transformation take place within.


I'm still in the arena, but my head's up. My eyes are open. My heart is okay. I did a hard thing and chose the simpler path that requires me to keep pressing in and keep moving forward.


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