We can cool the fires of reactivity by cultivating our own compassion and forgiveness. We can find better footing to face the day.
Anxiety and fear from our current pandemic may be adding unnecessary stress to us and our relationships. We become more easily irritated, fall into negative thought patterns, and worst-case scenario thinking even more than we usually do.
Can you think of a time when you got into an argument with someone because everything seemed to be going wrong?
In this past month, we have all been affected by the emotional stress and tension in the air. Personally, when I am not at my best, tension and conflict feel harder to manage. When I am depleted of energy, stressed, and have life emergencies thrown at me all at once, it can feel like my house is on fire, and I’m the only fireman. This led to a recent heated disagreement, where my main motive at the time was to be heard, to convey my frustration, and to seek justice in the situation. Sometimes when both parties feel this way, one person has to initiate the reconciliation and healing. That was my role.
Here are 6 steps that helped me cool the fires following an intense disagreement:
- Cool off
I first processed my own emotions and anger through free yoga poses on YouTube, with an instructor that helped me feel calm. I worked on releasing the tension and pain throbbing throughout my neck and back.
We store pain and emotions in our body, so choose any form of mindful movement to release it. This also helps to acknowledge the emotions we have in our bodies and go from unhealthy thought patterns to actively paying attention to how our bodies are being affected by distress.
I took a nap to physically reset myself. To recover from physical and emotional exhaustion. It can be sitting still in silence in a peaceful environment. You’re allowed to replenish and restore your energy in a way that works for you. Whatever helps you to calm your nervous system and to recharge.
With a pen, on an open white pad of paper, I drew my discontent through shapes and drawings. It helped to express my truth and frustration. The drawing helped channel my feelings without needing to use my mind to logically think of words.
Using images to identify your feelings can be very healing and effective. It taps into our subconscious minds when we choose a creative, restorative, or expressive way to channel our emotions.
- Be open to change
I reminded myself of the good that this person brings to my life. I held onto a statement – a memory of hope and positivity that reminded me of the significance of our relationship.
This is often the hardest but most important step. Deciding what you want from any relationship. Depending on who this person is in your life, only you know how far you want to go to mend the relationship or resolve the conflict. Our best answers and resources usually come to us when we are relaxed, feeling safe and rested. When you are feeling well, ask yourself, “What kinds of positive change am I open to?”
- Open your heart
I held compassion in my heart and mind and allowed for the tense feelings to slowly dissipate. I craved peace more than the current instability. Without giving attention to why this person was wrong (in my mind) or the hurt that I experienced, the pain of harboring it was not worth it. Peace was what I had wanted.
Connect to your heart area and allow it to receive positive emotions. Find the part of you that has hope, love and compassion. Connect to those internal emotions to help open yourself up to higher possibilities. If you still feel tension, go back to steps 1, 2 or 3.
- Hold space for forgiveness and compassion
We can only heal and experience serenity through forgiveness and compassion. No matter what harm or hurt this person has caused you, your anger is punishing you for what someone else did. I knew this. I wanted to be able to have a productive conversation to resolve our disagreement.
To move our relationship forward, I knew there was no other way than to channel peace, possibility and openness – or else the other person would feel attacked and triggered through my words and delivery.
You will know when you are ready to take this next step, to hold forgiveness and more compassion for this other person. Being the bigger person in this situation, stepping back and away from needing to “win” in the conversation will set you free.
Believe you can and you will. Aim for progress.
It may not be a perfect conversation, but having an open mind, staying calm and coming into the relationship with a positive intention will help the other person to feel your sincerity and authenticity.
This worked for me and forged not only a stronger relationship, but helped to mend unspoken issues that needed an outlet to come through.
Any argument or conflict serves as a lesson. It gives us an opportunity to re-integrate a new normal. It helps us connect to our needs, and to bridge those thoughts and emotions with someone we need on our team, as a partner, or part of our community.
Especially during this time, I am learning that the answer is rarely “I’m better off alone”. We are all stronger together, in community, connected and supporting one another.
Sometimes the biggest gift we need is to believe that something greater is possible, and to take that first step in making it possible.