If you want to have less of something in your life, it is helpful to understand the cause of it. If you are experiencing more conflict than you would like in your relationships, rather than looking at the content of what the conflict is about, look to what is the source of the upset is.
There are probably different things that you get reactive and angry about. The possible list is infinite. So in order to experience less reactivity, rather than looking in the direction of what you are upset about or what you are blaming for your upset, instead let’s look in the direction of what is behind all of the different forms of conflict.
There is no need to do an exhaustive review of your past or your psychological makeup. It is much simpler than that.
Behind all conflict is a single misunderstanding that causes fear.
The misunderstanding is about where our safety and wellbeing resides.
When we think our wellbeing resides outside of ourselves it is very scary. There is no controlling it. Sometimes circumstances and people are to our liking and sometimes they are not. If we think our wellbeing is based outside of ourselves we will fight for it. It makes sense.
If we think our wellbeing requires a certain amount of sex with our partner we will fight for it.
If we think our wellbeing requires our partner to be in a good mood more often, we will fight for that.
If we think our wellbeing requires respect, we will fight for it and on and on and on…
And when I say fight, I am using the term in a broad context. Fighting for it could mean conflict with ourselves, with another person, or with a circumstance. It is resisting what is.
Innocently, we fight with what is to try and feel okay. We want to be happy and experience peace of mind, but we look outside of ourselves for it and then we fight with our psychology, things, and people to try and get peace of mind. We forget we need to look in the opposite direction and find our experience of wellbeing within.
When I remember that my wellbeing lies within there is no conflict. Seeing this is a complete game-changer, and every time I am upset, I have forgotten this.
Every time I feel angry, I believe at that moment that my wellbeing and peace of mind have been taken away from me by my psychology or something outside of myself. It looks true to me at that moment. And I suffer until I remember. The suffering comes from the misunderstanding that I am separate from my wellbeing. Even if I get the thing I want outside, it doesn’t stop the suffering that comes from the feeling of separation.
I often get relationship questions about a partner’s behavior not being acceptable. The partner is insensitive, angry, critical, controlling, they interrupt, they don’t listen., they are unkind, they are abusive…
All of these may be an accurate description of the partner’s behavior, but they have nothing to do with who you are and your peace of mind. Making another person’s behavior responsible for your wellbeing does you a disservice. It is disempowering. No one can take away your peace of mind. The only thing that takes that away from us is when we get stirred up and resist what is. We do this when we forget that we are whole, complete and okay.
I am not saying find your wellbeing and stay with your abusive partner. I am saying look in the direction of your true nature rather in the direction of what they are doing and trying to change them or trying to change your experience. Look to your own wisdom and follow the guidance that comes from there.
I am not endorsing and condoning bad behavior.
I am saying look to your inner freedom and peace of mind no matter what your circumstances. That is where you will find your wisdom and resilience.
But I understand why it can be frustrating to point toward inner peace instead of looking at trying to change circumstances.
I used to believe that my happiness could be taken away from me by my partner. I blamed him for my upset and discontent.
I did not want to look inside. It was terrifying. It felt much safer to stay connected with the other person in the fight than to wake up to the fact that I don’t need them to be okay. I know it sounds crazy because it is crazy. I engaged in conflict as a way to connect with my partner. I would rather have conflict than be alone. I would rather fight than disengage because I was terrified of being left with my experience. At least if I was in conflict it could distract me from my fear and insecurity of sitting with my experience of utter unworthiness and shame.
This was my misunderstanding at the time. I thought the only way to escape my painful inner experience was through outer satisfaction or distraction whether it be good or bad. This looked way better than being with myself because the self that I was being with was the feeling of a separate self that was alone, flawed, and just didn’t measure up.
I didn’t realize this separate self was a construct. I had no idea there is a deeper impersonal self that we all share. As Sydney Banks would say a “superconscious state.”
I did not know that was on offer so I kept fighting. Fighting to get things to my liking. Fighting to connect so I didn’t feel alone. Fighting to be successful so I didn’t have to feel unworthy, and behind all this fighting was the simple misunderstanding that my wellbeing lay outside of me. I did not know there is an inner space of peace that I could fall into.
I still have conflict in my life. I still get into fights with Angus, with life, and with myself, but it is much easier to remember now when this happens that I have just forgotten where wellbeing is found. I think it is outside of me when actually it is within.
My invitation to you is to get quiet and look within for yourself. When your mind is relaxed, do you experience a wellbeing within that has no rhyme or reason and is not associated with anything outside of you?
If you do, let that feeling be your guide. It is not an emotion that goes up a down. It is a deeper feeling of your true nature. Let that feeling show you the way.
It does require letting go of judgment and righteousness. It may also result in you seeing everyone’s psychological innocence and feeling compassion.
These side-effects are definitely worth it. Let me know what your experience is.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.