We all have lots of opportunity to find ourselves in the midst of conflict.
And, all too often, we enter the fray and try to argue our points. Reason it out. Hear and be heard. Press through the mudslinging.
More often than not, engaging the battle makes things worse.
What if there is another option that doesn’t involve our mouth?
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I’ve found that conflicted relationships and situations call for active internal governance.
Internal governance is the ability to manage ourselves. Not just the words coming out our mouth but the seed of those words in our heart.
“Watching what you say” is wise, but it’s even better to treasure hunt the roots of (and uproot if necessary) the thought seeds hidden in our heart that produce our words.
Internal governance is the conscious set of moment-to-moment choices to remain.
- Remain in control of our emotions.
- Remain conscious of the big picture.
- Remain in faith, hope and love toward the situation or fellowman.
- Remain able to separate situations and words from people and their worth.
- Remain above judgment, lest your own finger point back at you.
- Remain mindful of subtext – what’s behind what’s happening.
Internal governance requires the ability to live in two places at once – in the middle of a situation but outside it at the same time.
If you want to REpossess a conflicted situation or relationship gone awry, you can. But a few pre-requisites apply:
Internal governance is not for those who must be first or must be right. The proud will twist it into manipulation and control. To them, a vanquished foe is a sign of victory.
Internal governance is not for the faint-of-heart. The spineless will allow the situation or person to overtake them. Caving to maintain a false peace is not a victory.
It’s also not for those clinging to an outcome. Actually bringing committed internal governance to a situation, new outcomes with better solutions, opportunities, and upgrades are invited to arise!
To be prepared to REpossess a negative moment, season, or relationship, we must be mentally tougher than our own excuses.
Our human instinct in a contentious world is self-preservation. And that instinct is heightened by our own painful past. Through unresolved suffering, our self-preservation progresses into self-interest and self-justification.
When conflict arises, our mind hyperjumps to:
- We need to right the wrong
- We need to extract ourselves from suffering
- We need to architect an outcome where we win
Our internal mental agenda produces excuses. And those excuses sound valid. After all:
It’s painful to be misunderstood or silenced.
It’s not fair.
It has happened this way for so long, and something needs to give!
And yet. The moment we don the boxing gloves of battle, we have already lost. We have engaged at the wrong level.
I majored in communication. In fact, my college degree is in rhetoric. I’ve read more than my share of communications manuals. Marriage communication. Business communication. Conflict resolution. I’m also a very well counseled person over the years.
NONE of these tools, however, helped me successfully DO what I am talking about here: REpossessing an atmosphere of tension and negativity. Deciding that what IS doesn’t have to CONTINUE. Determining that – after years of failed attempts – you are going to get it right this go-round with a new strategy. Resolving with finality that YOU are the only one that can take back that atmosphere and turn those bitter waters sweet.
Here’s the spoiler…to displace conflict with peace and REpossess atmospheres, we must be a carrier of authentic peace ourselves. After all, we cannot give away what we first do not possess.
If your mind is a swirl, you cannot be a purveyor of peace. You first have to bring peace to your own mind. If you look “under the hood” and discover a bunch of crossed mental wires, it’s time to take your mind to the “body shop” and trace each wire through to resolution. This means every thought that is beleaguering, taunting, or haunting you must be traced back to its origin and replaced with healing truth. This will bring peace to your mind.
True, wire tracing is a delicate and time-consuming. But the alternative is a lifetime of growing mental swirl.
If your heart is crowded with hobos it will be impossible to stand outside conflict and not be drawn into it. Those hobos are actually goading you to get involved. If you “pop the trunk” of your heart and discover unforgiveness, hurts, wounds, and hopelessness, it’s time to issue some evictions. Each time you release a hurt or a person from heart prison, you actually free yourself.
True, clearing the heart of lingering and nomadic stuff can be intimidating. That junk in the trunk is comfortable in there. It’s easier just to ignore. But that stuff is living in your heart rent-free. And it’s holding you back and darkening your lens on situations and relationships. It’s time to get free.
As you become a free person, you become a safe person.
Only free people possess peace. Only free people possess themselves. And only free people can REpossess atmospheres.
Now that you are free, here are your REpossession instructions:
As the battle draws near or conflict spontaneously combusts, check in with your belly.
I mean literally gather your internal strength into your belly. The internal tensile strength that comes from strong wires and a clear heart. Peace brings a quiet and potent confidence that raises your chin.
(Be conscious of not hardening your heart or “bracing yourself for impact”. If you do that, you will miss the opportunity.)
Tell your mind that YOU are going to determine the atmosphere, not have it determined for you.
As this internal dialog begins, take yourself OUT of the battle. Position yourself above it. Not hierarchically, but I mean in a way that you will not be scathed by it.
Remind yourself that you are free. You want truth and peace to reign in this situation. You want all parties to win by coming into wholeness and personal victory.
(Want to see how you’re doing? Internal peace produces soft and compassionate eyes, not calculating, hard, or averted eyes. Look at your eyes in a mirror.)
As the situation unfolds, do not put your head down and try to simply endure it. You can’t just hold your breath through this tunnel and hope it all turns out on the other side.
From a position of being unscathable outside the situation, you’re also going to stand IN the situation. Imagine a swirl around you that is trying to draw you in and sink you. But the peace in you is unsinkable. Your windows cannot be blown out. Your doors cannot be crashed in. You will stand and the swirl will have to find a way to pass by you like a transitory storm front. You will be the building still intact. And anyone or anything that takes shelter in you will be safe.
You’re going to listen actively to what is and what is not being said. You’re going to say less than you ever have. You’re going to measure out your words carefully.
And if this first storm front does not yield to peace. It will next time. Or the next. But it will. Because peace is the most rare and attractive refuge in the world.
Strategic insight: the person or situation carrying the conflict is actually burdened by it. Some may not even be aware they’re carrying and distributing it. Your peace and eyes of compassion and heart for universal victory will be either irresistible or repellent.
- To those who peace is repellent, their storms will find not find the satisfaction of destruction around you; and eventually they’ll take their storms elsewhere.
- But to those who peace becomes more compelling than their tormented conflict, you can be a shelter. You can actually become a WAY OUT for them to escape their own swirl.
You have REpossessed a messy atmosphere not when the ground has been razed but you’re still standing, but when your internal governance radiated out into the situation and took IT over.
Don’t determine in advance what an advantageous-to-you outcome would be. Commit only to the internal governance and holding yourself in integrity and honor.
As you practice governing conflicted situations, you will get better at it. (After all, we’ve spent a lifetime engaging in fruitless and bloody emotional battles; and that takes some unlearning.)
Finally, an ongoing lifestyle of victory over conflict cannot be achieved in a silo. We all face trials of many kinds, and these trials can bury us if we are facing them alone. Victories over our battles come when others hold up our arms in strength and loving harmony of mission.
Surround yourself with only the best. If you don’t have that in your life right now, become the friend you would like to have. And then pour out that strength into others and raise them up. Again and again. Until the honey of your life is an attractant to the arm-holding elect.
My friends, what a joy it is to share these nitty gritty lessons I’ve learned with you. I hope these instructions are life-giving and inspiring and make you want to rise above the fray and govern your life from the inside out. I’m living proof it’s possible.
Repossessing atmospheres is the work of Order Restorers; the ones who are paying the reclamation of their own lives forward and inviting others into true Peace.
Internal order is worth so much more than external order. All the internal decluttering it takes to get to internal governance is worth it as you have the privilege of apprehending and distributing a government of love and peace without end.