“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”~ Henry David Thoreau” 1. You are often jealous of others If you have a tendency to look at others with envy it may be time to make a change. Harold Coffin said, “Envy is the art of counting the other […]
“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I thought I would re-post this post as I see the presence of unnecessary suffering due to the unnecessary conflicts in human relationships. Hope you find it useful.
Why do you think people get into a heated talk? Why and how is Conflict formed in a relationship? Is it possible people communicate and resolve differences without hatred and resentment?
I think the condition that forms, fuels and escalates Conflict in human relationships our collective inability to enter into the Zone of Extremism.
I believe the long-lasting conflict in human relationships is a byproduct of our extreme positions/stances on issues that matter to us. We may have lots of reasons to become ‘for or against’ an idea but when we enter into a conversation, it is important to be open to others’ point of views. The belief that the stance we take is the only way, the only truth, and the best solution, leads us to conflicts. This is what i call ‘the zone of extremism’. The zone that brings us harm than good; the zone that locks us into polarized positions and the zone that make us stuck in a gridlock for a long time.
These are the possible conditions for entering into the ‘zone of Extremism’:
- When we only talk about the extreme condition of situations
- When we exaggerate outcomes or consequences of actions or beliefs
- When we hold the opposite stance much longer than it needed
- When we hold 100% for or against position on an idea during the entire conversion
- When we don’t deliberately switch our positions to see things from the other’s point of view.
The solution may seem to be apparent, however, it is difficult to achieve at times. What makes it difficult is the influence of ‘the zone of extremism’ on both parties involved in conversations. Awareness is required prior to entering into any conversation. To develop awareness and consciousness, we need to consider paying attention to the following:
- Give ‘benefit of doubt’ to the other party’s talk
- Share ideas without attempting to convince the other
- Take a listening position to hear the other party’s ideas
- Stay away from dogmatism and division (the zone of extremism)
- Make deliberate intentional efforts to reduce your 100% devotion/loyalty to your stance. This way the other party is better able to express herself/ himself.
Remember, there is some truth in every idea; everything that we know about ourselves and our conditions is part of our collective human knowledge; and human knowledge is NOT complete, pure, and absolute.
Tahereh Barati, RMFT
Every person walks into a relationship with her/his own life experiences. No one enters into someone’s life for no reason. Its reasons may be invisible to us but there are some purposes in our social engagements. One benefit of social engagement is to develop our own principles/ethics in life. We learn about our own personal and relational ethics/principles when we enter into life experiences of others. The richness of our life depends on the quality of relationships we are in. Relationships have significant influences on who we are and how we are with the Other.
Buber (1979) differentiates relationships focusing on the Other as “Thou” from those viewing the Other as ‘It”. Those of us caught in the pattern of “I–It” relationship connect with the Other as an object. The Other as ‘It’ becomes a means to our own personal ends. The “I” is driven/directed by his/her own egocentric needs. The Other is set at a distance and the “I” don’t attempt to experience the Other’s side. The Other is absent as a person, as a being, in the relationship. The Other is a means to an end rather than being a partner in dialogue. The “I-It” relationship is monological and subjective rather than dialogical and inter-human.
In an “I- Thou” relationship, unlike “I – It”, a person turns toward the Other and confirms his or her being. The “I- Thou” relationship is characterized by “mutuality, directness, present-ness, intensity, and ineffability” (Friedman, 1960).
Relationships collapse when people are trapped in an “I-It” relationship. “I- It” relationship doesn’t have the capacity to last and fulfill relational needs of parties. In the “I- It” engagement, we constantly search for another “It” to bring us joy and happiness; nothing seems to be enough. Treating and viewing the Other as “It” is a recipe for disaster which closes down potential venues to personal and relational growth. The only way out is our awareness to search for ways of reconnecting to our principles/ethics to re-connect with the Other in a new way.
We are able to transform an “I-It’ encounter to an “I-Thou” relationship. What makes it possible lies in our ability to revise our ethics in the relationship; to become responsible to the Other. This is the only way to identification and reconstruction of our personal and relational ethics. This is a gateway to experiencing ourselves as “relational beings” (Gergen 2009). When we enter into the “I- Thou” relationship, we become part of an open ever-evolving process. There is no endpoint or a tangible goal. We become multi-dimensional and, then, larger than life.
Think about relationships that you are in. When thinking of the quality of your relationship with the Other person, how do you describe the Other person? Has the Other person become an “It” or “Thou”? There is a direct link between your problems in the relationship and you viewing the Other as “It”. Review your ethics and redraw the definition of your relationship with the Other. When doing so, you would be amazed to see what becomes possible to you.