It is easy for a conversation to get out of hand. One person reacts to another, and then that person reacts to the first. It’s a predictable cycle with a toxic nature and almost always declines in quality as it progresses. Around and around the exchange goes, the participants speaking more loudly, carelessly, and sometimes viciously with each downward rotation.
This cycle is equally toxic when the battle takes place inside us.
When we are in conflict, either within ourselves or with another, it helps to return to what I call our power position, which is to clarify for ourselves, “What I really need in this situation is… .”
To avoid that toxic spiral, mind your own needs and desires. If you can step back, take a deep breath, and check in to see what you actually need or want, then you will know what is driving you. You can get back to what you are trying to communicate in this specific situation.
If the conflict is with someone else, then by returning to your power position you are able to state clearly what you are asking of them. And honestly… isn’t that the greatest gift anyone could ever give us?
If you tell me what you want from me, then I can check in and decide if I can meet that need or not. It gives me a chance to say, “Yes, I can do that” or “No, that won’t work for me,” or if you’re really lucky, “No, that won’t work for me, but what about this…?” Everything is more clear, more manageable, if we know what we need.
The Catch: In order to ask for what you need, in times of conflict and otherwise, you have to know what you really need.
Everything I wrote up until now may or may not be clear. In the spirit of full disclosure, I can’t even tell sometimes, but it feels like it needs to be said on the way into what follows. There are so many moving parts to what comes through when I read anything written by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. My mind turns inside out, and my heart practically falls out of my chest. The second chapter of her book The Invitation is called, “The Longing.” Frankly, the title was ample warning that what followed was going to rock my world… and it did.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
- Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation
She exposes ”The Longing” with such transparency, such vulnerability, that my own longing roared up to meet her on the path, all of it far too familiar to ignore. She speaks of our longing for passion, companionship, peace, truth, respect, and even to be connected – to one another, to everything, to the thing some call Spirit or God or The Universe.
My longing for purpose, for my life to matter, bubbled up and ached with all of the rest of it in my chest. It haunts me, that one, the longing that people continue to remind me should be met many times over. I’ve coached many, written extensively, used my gifts to support many people over the past few years. Still, I’m haunted by the absence of “enough” success, haunted by the longing to do more… it is powerful, and I am with this longing, I realized when I read this passage, almost constantly.
I turned to the meditation hoping to unfold the knot of emotions that had formed in my chest. I felt eager to explore, to find answers. I wanted to open the door to more… and that’s where it fell apart. She doesn’t want to know what we claim to long for… she wants to know what lives below that, what we really long for. She prompts: “I want…,” I need…,” “I desire…,” and with an amateurish sense of relief, I offered the thing I’ve believed was driving me for the three years that I’ve been struggling to grow this business.
I want to make a difference in the world.
I need to find a way in which I can show up and use my gifts to help people change their lives.
I desire more clients, more visibility, more opportunities to do the thing I was created to do.
She then prompts us to “Pause and come back to your breath… looking at what you have written, read the items out loud, one at a time, saying, ‘It doesn’t interest me if I ever have… What I really want is… .’”
Security. What I really want is security… damn. Just like that, years of hysteria about “being in service” evaporated, and a need for financial security was right there staring back at me. I’m sure that as I continue to dig, I’ll find something even deeper — more powerful and pure — beneath that, but the insight is quite powerful. It is clear that, for the first time in a long time, I need to find a way to feel more secure, even if that means working for someone else.
The magic in this story is that the experience allowed me to know myself more deeply.
When you are in conflict — regardless of whether it is with another person or within yourself — love yourself enough to dig deeper. Find out what unmet need is really behind the emotions you are experiencing. Use the technique from Oriah Mountain Dreamer to explore your reaction — especially when there is a great deal of heat on that reaction — because as you (and I) unlock these old stories, we free ourselves from these patterns.
Essentially, breaking these patterns is the path to personal freedom. When we dig deeply enough, we heal. We grow and change, and the way we show up in the world shifts. The quality of interaction we attract improves. By digging deeper, we cultivate better results from the action we’re taking in our day-to-day lives.
This is how you change your life. Are you ready to dig deeper?