Anyway, I’ve been busy as hell preparing for this Cinco de Mayo graduation (RISE OF DR. BROOKS: WORLD DOMINATION LOL ) so I fell off with my podcast AND my damn #selfcare posts. I know. I still care. But I wanted to share something I think is timely and appropriate. 💜
Conflict is not a Dirty Word…and it’s time we stop acting like it is.
I had an interesting conversation this morning with an old colleague who’s hurting over something frivolous (in my humble opinion and yes I know that was judgy). Also, I’ve got my own share of interpersonal sh*t I deal with on a biennial basis in various forms and this basically explains how I deal. She appreciated my advice so I thought I’d share it here as well in seven categorical points:
1. Conflict is bizarre. Conflict is emotional. Conflict reveals our character. Conflict stretches us outside of our comfort zones. However, CONFLICT is NOT a bad thing. If you do not stretch, how do you grow? What rational being does not want to grow? (If you do not want to grow, this is not the blog/column for you).
2. Consider processing the conflict for what it is. This is done by removing the personal lens and examining the actual problem from a solutions-based perspective. This is an act of emotional maturity (and often times incredibly difficult). In summation, being the bigger person SUCKS B@LLS but it’s vital AF.
3. Deep self-consoling sigh for this one😩…To get wrapped up in the ego and feel wronged is not an act of emotional maturity-it is the FULL OPPOSITE, unfortunately. I totally acknowledge that clinging to hurt feelings and victimhood is human nature. Hell it’s easier and much more fun. GOD KNOWS I KNOW ABOUT THIS. So allow yourself anywhere between 30 mins- 1 full business day to wallow in that and then promise yourself to let it go. Hold yourself accountable to that sh*t. Make sure you have someone in your life to challenge your victimhood. We can’t always see ourselves. I struggle to trust people who agree with me immediately when I am upset about something. (How can I be sure they’re helping me grow?)🤔
4. What I find in my personal experiences is that once we can admit when we are wrong or make mistakes, we realize that no one is going to die. No one EVER dies from admitting shortcomings-the ego just makes us FEEL that way. It defends us and fuels our personal bullshit. Every time. On the other side of the ego, we actually feel free. Once you are free, what happens from there is not your business. Take the lessons and integrate them in your post-conflict state. Whether it’s accepted or not, when I apologize, I feel better about myself and what I’m contributing to the world. Kind of like “yeah, I very well fucked that up, but I also made it right. I can sleep at night.” Sometimes people just want to be heard and a genuine apology can soothe so easily. It costs nothing.
Bonus: Don’t get wrapped up in the response to your apology. No one is supposed to kiss your ass for doing the right thing, you’re just supposed to like…do it. If you’re expecting your ass to be kissed, it’s time to look within and examine your own motives for apologizing.
5. Conflict avoidance is weird. Don’t be f@cking weird. Conflict breeds SO MANY wonderful things. I am a person who used to avoid conflict like the plague. I was a passive aggressive mess inside with no sense of self-awareness. That’s because I used to surround myself with people who agreed with me or didn’t challenge me. I didn’t get a chance to grow. However, I eventually did grow and I can tell you honestly that avoiding conflict reveals that we are hiding from something.
Somewhere inside there’s a piece of our ego or a blind spot we don’t even know about that we are not ready to deal with. In the spirit of real life application, I recently observed a few necessary conflicts that ultimately revealed deep rooted issues that needed to emerge and be unpacked and resolved. Here’s one…
Example: I am on a closed fb group for an organization. There was some very “spirited” discourse going about the two processes through which one can join this type of organization the other day. And I mean like 900+ comments worth of “discourse.” Some people were attacking each other, some trying to understand wtf they walked into, others blame shifting, many posting “I’m here for the comments memes” and others clamoring for the post to be removed for fear of offending people. Like a few others in the mix, I was of the opinion that the conversation needed to be had and if the ultimate goal is the work of the organization, it’s best to hash it out-hear all sides and come up with a resolution or at least a plan to hear each other enough to work toward one. Hurt feelings about someone else’s feelings about your method of acquiring membership are a minuscule casualty when you remove the ego and consider the greater good. See how that works?
6. Curate your reality and the energy around you as much as you can. Do not react to things that aren’t explicitly stated to you…meaning if you aren’t tagged in the meme, it isn’t about you. Regardless of what it says. Saying that to say, unfollowing and logging off is healthy. I do it all the time because I understand my triggers.
Curating what you deal with is important. Being left out is okay if it means you will maintain your sanity. Don’t worry about what people say behind your back and remember it truly is none of your business. I’ve been saying this since 2002 because it keeps me sane and helps me deal with things that I understand about myself.
For example, I had a REALLY painful breakup with a friend many years ago. I knew that I was going to miss out on her pregnancy journey, marriage, celebrations and all kinds of stuff. I was so certain that we would spend the rest of our lives together and the pain of her departure was devastating. I knew that people I knew would be there for those moments that I’d miss. I knew it was going to hurt. So, in the spirit of self-preservation, I unfollowed and minimized her in my newsfeed. I controlled what I consumed. Otherwise I may have become consumed by that sad feeling and creating unecessary narratives and scenarios in my mind that are NOT real and fully-based on conjecture. The thing is, that same energy could be used to write a book, take a class, or have a beer. So that’s what I did.
7. Reacting to conjecture demonstrates a lack of intelligence. I don’t mean this as aggressively as it sounds, but it’s true. It’s how my mind has been trained. I did not truly understand this until I started my academic program. You are asking to be destroyed verbally and in writing (and red ink hurts) if you share your opinions and assumptions in a paper or discussion in academia. You must only give life to facts. And the facts must be cited by a credible resource. It’s hard to do because assumptions are easier, sensationalized, and more fun, but in the sense of conflcit management, conjecture is easily spread and taken as gospel far too often. Repeating and responding to conjecture is inflammatory and hurts our personal credibility. When you hear something triggering, ask “how do you know this? Did you hear them say this? Were you there? Etc ” and see if the answer is credible or based on “well I just thought…” or some shit. If the response confirms conjecture, STAWP! DO NOT PASS GO. STEP AWAY FROM THE DIALOGUE. MUTE THE THREAD. ETC.
Another side of conjecture is the whole “they keep posting/talking about me” approach. Assuming that everything and everyone is about you or someone is subbing you is weird and self-congratulatory. Don Miguel Ruiz expounds on this a lot more in The Four Agreements. People do things because of themselves. Not because of us. The sooner we understand this, the sooner we can let shit go whether it’s directed toward us or not. The ego makes us think this matters. Trust me, it doesn’t. 💜
One of the things I picked up in doctoral study was ethnography. It took me an entire semester to determine what the hell it was but here goes: You basically infiltrate a culture and observe it objectively for extended periods of time without inserting your bias. During the period, you pick up on levels of interpersonal power, personality traits, frames, agenda setting, and predictable behaviors among many other things. My point is, observing conflcit experiences from an objective perspective helps you remove personal bias from the issue at hand. You already know what means truly what. You already know not to take things personally because the phenomenon (conflcit in this case) will take place in some form with or without you. It is the simple cycle of life.
We are all individuals wandering around with our own narratives and experiences and in our numerous exchanges throughout life, we are bound to wander into people, entities, or scenarios that will conflcit with our narratives. My narrative is not better than yours and your narrative is not better than his. Get it? The sooner we all understand that, the easier it will be to process and engage in conflcit.
As always, I hope this resonates with whoever needs it. What good is acquiring knowledge, if you’re unable to share it? 💜✨✨✨✨
And for the record, you can cite me (Brooks, 2017) lol okay I’m done 😩✌🏽