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There are many new problems we must face in our rapidly changing world. However, at the heart of all them is one thing: conflict. 

The Cause of Conflict

Before we deal with a challenge, we need to understand it. All conflict exists in our stories of the past about what happened to us and what we made it mean.

When we bring that story—with its emotionally charged meanings into the present moment and enroll others in our saga of fault and blame we become trapped in conflict. The damage escalates when we project our conflict stories into the future and live into them. Communications breakdown and become accusatory. Long standing relationships become toxic. Hopelessness looms and “war” feels inevitable.

These beliefs about right and wrong are closely tied to our identity and values. When we feel that those are threatened, we enroll allies and eventually lawyers to validate our position and weaken our opponent’s. We become invested in our stories, viewing them as the best and often the only way to get our interests and needs met.

Escaping from the Trap Of Conflict

The 12th century Sufi mystic, Jalal al-din Muhammad Rumi, provided some wisdom about how to break free of this trap. He wrote: “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
In order to find Rumi’s field, it is necessary to step back from your own story and separate what actually happened, the facts, from what you made those facts mean, your judgements, interpretations, and assumptions. You can also make your best guess as to how the other party sees the facts and what they made them mean. When you do this well, you will create a whole new range of possible options for resolution. You will likely find that much of the conflict is in the meanings.

You can get help from family and friends. Advice from your professional advisors such as accountants, estate and financial planners and business coaches may be very useful in keeping you on track towards future possibilities rather than focused on past grievances. Remember you want their objective insights not simply for them to buy into your story.

When we align our thinking with Rumi’s field, our conflicts not longer appear insurmountable, but instead as a mere hurdle to overcome. When we manage our conflicts effectively and efficiently life simply works better.

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