Human beings are social. We realize our dignity and our rights in relationships with others. Too much stress on “me” and what “I want” stop someone’s ability to grow and achieve fulfillment in the community so that he or she becomes distorted – overly self-involved and indulgent and less conscious of neighbor. When we stop being conscious of our neighbor’s good we devalue them and strip their dignity. When we can do that to someone we know someone can easily do that to us. This instills fear which separates us from our neighbor rather than pulls us closer together.
I know most of you have heard this before but it is true. If you are stuck…in a problem…in a rut…in conflict with someone…turning in on yourself over grief or loss, rejection, or pain, the sure way out is to stop turning inward, stop the cycle of conflict and give to your neighbor. Stepping outside your own tunnel vision and focusing on others opens the heart and causes you to see everything differently. Giving of oneself has transformative power on its own – and then when it is connected to faith in the Triune God it brings with it grace, the gift of God, which not only transforms but transcends.
So much of what Cary and I do when working with people involved in high conflict situations; i.e. divorce, co-parenting issues; co-worker issues; boss issues – is to redirect them away from self-satisfaction and toward others. Many clients have a hard time taking this first step because they are so used to fighting by putting themselves first because they are feeling victimized by the high conflict personality. However, that is the wrong fight. Check out any research on dealing with high conflict people and one of the primary strategies is calming them by connecting or bonding with the person with empathy, attention, and respect. This strategy holds hands with letting go of yourself and looking at what another need. Changing your behavior is going to have influence and it is going to give you control and your dignity back- something that has been stripped from you not only by the high conflict personality but also perhaps by the court system, others, and most of all, yourself.
We humans need each other. We can only understand our true value in relationships with others. It is easy to become distorted when we stop looking out for the good of our neighbors and only focus on ourselves. We know from experience and study that getting out of self is the first positive step to moving out of a rut or conflict or just getting “unstuck.” Giving to others and refocusing yourself on the other is going to bring you a positive change in your own life and it is going to have a huge impact on the behavior of those around you.