Inspirational Articles

Our Struggle for Peace

Our Struggle for Peace

By Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell

Once again as we prepare this Column a part of the world is caught up in war. This article is not about that war but it does lead us to question the on going conflicts we observe globally and what can we learn from them. Perhaps the first thing we need to recognize is the world is a macrocosm of our own microcosm. In other words, the outside reflects what is going on inside ourselves.

Conflict has become a way of life for most people. We have air rage, road rage, relationship and work conflicts. Many people spend a great deal of time fighting with people in their heads. Given the opportunity we do not hesitate to express our displeasure directly. Anger has become a way of life. The more stressors we have in our lives the more likely we are to become volatile.

Control

The biggest majority of our conflicts derive directly from our control issues. Yes, we all have control issues and they account for about 90% of our anger! When people do not do as we expect, anticipate or do it they way we would have and we have an emotional reaction to it then we have control issues. When someone driving in front of us cuts us off we can fly into a rage, our flight is delayed or the subway is behind schedule we fly into a rage. We personalize the experience as though it was being done intentionally just to us. Simple requests for assistance such as helping with the dishes only to discover the other person does not do dishes the way we do, and again we become angry.

Having control issues per se is really not the problem. Control issues help us feel safe in our environment, they help us to do a good job in whatever our endeavor, they reinforce our sense of personal values. The problem occurs when we project these things on to other people and expect them to behave exactly the way we want or need them to be. Even when people do not know what our requirements are, we can be moved to anger very quickly because they "should" have known. Even if we do not express our discontent outwardly we are still in conflict on the inside and filling ourselves with that energy.

Things to ask yourself:

  1. How is it your way is the only right way to do something?
  2. Is there a place here for you to learn something different?
  3. What is your pay off for keeping yourself in conflict? In other words, what do you get from it personally?
  4. If you did not feel internal conflict most of the time, what would you feel?
  5. What other ways can you find to feel safe and secure in your environment without needing to control everything and everyone in it?
  6. What is your biggest fear about letting go of your control?
  7. Could you live with your fears' worst-case scenario?

Things to do:

  1. Determine how important it is that the dishes were not done your way. At least they are done!
  2. Learn to breathe, meditate and experience for yourself what an inner peacefulness is like.
  3. Learn you do not have all the answers. Or know all the rules. There are none.
  4. Learn to let go. This does not mean giving up your personal values. It is part of learning to realize most of what is a big deal today will probably not even be remembered in the future.
  5. Learn to lighten up and laugh a lot more than you may be doing now.
  6. Celebrate the differences of each individual in your life and see them for who they really are. It is all the individuals in our life, in so many different roles, who are our teachers.
  7. Pick your fights wisely. Is this really worth destroying a relationship or job over?
  8. Is your anger proportional to the event? If you are raging about the way the dishes were done, it is clearly not about the dishes. Dig deeper to find out what is really going on inside of you.
  9. If you do flare up at someone be the first to apologize.
  10. Recognize the only person you can change is yourself.
  11. Practise acceptance of yourself and others.
    Conflicts do and will happen. We are only human after all but we do not need to live in a state of perpetual conflict and anger. Before you get yourself worked up, ask what is this feeling of anger really all about. The more aware you are of your feeling states the easier it will be to shift unwanted reactions away. Responding to a situation is much more empowering than knee jerk reactions.

It is so vitally important for us to recognize the correlation between our own internal emotional states and those of the outside world. If we really believe a peaceful planet is attainable then we have to start with our self and find ways to allow peace within our self, our relationships, families and communities. Peace is not something that is decreed or comes from the signing of agreements or treaties; it is a state of being. It is not a feeling or an intermittent behaviour; it is something we strive to ultimately become. It will only come from the inside out.