You can’t change an ongoing state of conflict by viewing it repeatedly from the same perspective. You’ve got to find a new filter or two.
Years ago, I bought a pair of sports sunglasses with swappable lenses for differing conditions. I didn’t take the time to experiment with the different lenses and settled into wearing the dark gray lenses all the time. They did the job well enough.
Until I discovered they didn’t. One day while cleaning out a drawer I came across the other lenses and the booklet describing their best uses. Next time out in my kayak, I tried the amber lenses for better contrast and found it easier to see large boulders lurking just beneath the water surface. Hiking on a rainy day, I found the light-enhancing lenses better for the dull light conditions.
The approaches you typically use to resolve conflict are like wearing a single pair of lenses. They work well enough most of the time. But for conflict that’s gotten stuck, they cause you to miss opportunities and stumble more than necessary. You don’t notice the hidden boulders beneath the surface until you bump into them. You slip more frequently on the slick muddy surface of the trail.
When a conflict gets stuck, you need a new filter to help you see what you’re missing. Sometimes you need several filters. Those filters can be things like these:
A friend who helps you not by soothing, not by giving advice, but by lovingly challenging your thinking.
A mediator. The best of us know how to help you view the conflict through more effective filters.
A conflict coach. The best of us know how to help you develop your own capacity to find and use new filters.
An approach designed to cause lens swapping. I hope my forthcoming The Conflict Pivot will be that for you.
A jolt out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you get lucky and the universe helps you out.
Do you have a story about changing filters and seeing something in a new way? I’d love to hear it in the comments.