It’s not likely that burying our heads in the sand when in conflict helps to solve matters, mend the relationship, or clarify assumptions and perceptions. Sometimes though it may be the best tact.
The expression “bury your head in the sand” apparently comes from the supposed habit of ostriches hiding their heads when faced with an attack by predators. The story was first recorded by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder. One source I found says, however, that ostriches don’t hide, either in bushes (as Pliny suggested) or sand, although they do sometimes lie on the ground to make themselves inconspicuous. An interesting take on this story (without much support, however) is that ostriches are not smart and believe that if they can’t see their attackers then the attackers can’t see them.
When humans refuse to acknowledge a conflict it may feel like a safe place to be, as opposed to being in the eye of conflict. It may serve to temporarily settle things down. It may serve to excuse the other person’s or our own actions or words. It may mean our thoughts and feelings are not expressed or that we do not want them to be. It may result in the dissension dissipating, at least temporarily.
Whatever the reasons, burying our heads in the sand when it comes to conflict reflects the inclination to avoid – even hide – from conflict. If this is a tendency you have, check out this week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions):
- Considering a current conflict you are avoiding, what thoughts are you burying?
- What emotions are you burying?
- What is comfortable about burying your thoughts? Your emotions?
- What is uncomfortable about burying your thoughts? Your emotions?
- What do you fear most that may be keeping you from acknowledging the conflict?
- How does burying your head help you? How does it help the other person?
- How does burying your head hurt you? How does it hurt the other person?
- What are you hiding from that you don’t think the other person or others can see?
- What do you think is obvious to the other person or others though you are trying to bury your thoughts and emotions?
- What needs to happen for you to be able to acknowledge conflict?
- What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?