The most difficult conflicts in my life have generally come from trying to impose my will on reality, particularly when I’m trying to control other people. When I have expectations of how life should be, how others should communicate and behave, or how events should unfold, and then try to make it happen, I rarely get the result I want.
There is a powerful visualization in the book Hope For Today that I have found helpful for myself and my clients.
“When you want to control someone or something, visualize two doors. One is labeled old way/my will and the other door is labeled letting go/ the universe’s will. Then, imagine opening each door and seeing what will happen if you go down that path.“
By doing that before acting, we can find some detachment and a calmer place to respond rather than react. I also ask my clients a series of questions to help clarify what is behind the two doors.
When have you felt this way before/been in this situation before?
What did you do? (first door).
Did it work?
If it didn’t work:
What could you do instead that might have a better result? (second door).
How can you let go of the outcome?
When I do one on one coaching with someone who is in a challenging relationship, often a part of the work is helping them let go of believing they can make another person do and be what they want. Instead we look gently at their own contribution to the situation and how they can change their own communication and attitude.
I once heard someone frame this as an algebraic equation:
a (your behavior and attitude) + b ( the other person’s behavior and attitude) = c (outcome).
When “a” changes, so does “c”, the outcome, even if “b” stays the same. Miracles of healing can happen in any relationship, if just one of the people involved finds the courage and support to respond to conflicts differently.