Category Archives: conflict resolution

5 quick tips on surrendering

Surrendering is typically viewed as a sign of defeat, a mark of failure, and a showing of weakness. But one must be willing to surrender – again and again – to stop unnecessary suffering, move forward, and lead an awakened life.

Here are 5 quick tips on surrendering: 

1.  Redefine surrender.  In war, the term surrender means giving up power to another upon demand or defeat. It’s no wonder it has negative connotations in everyday challenges and disputes. But what if surrender means gracefully facing the inevitable, avoiding undue harm, repairing damage, finding closure, and dropping a cause that is no longer worth struggling for?  Consider the many ways surrender can be an empowering choice before you dismiss it as an option for losers only.

2. Choose your battles wisely.  Stand up for yourself. Resist attacks. Stay true to your values. Don’t ever be a doormat. Just be prepared for backlash when you start meddling in someone else’s business, instead of minding your own. You can’t force others to change so they don’t bug you anymore. Surrender involves quitting an action that’s not working, getting comfortable with discomfort, letting go bit by bit of the things you don’t control, and staying open to a myriad of possibilities.

3. Notice when you are in resistance mode. Pay attention to how resistance manifests in your body.  Clenched fists? Jaw tension? Stiff neck?  Shallow breathing? Taking stock of what resistance feels like to you will help you determine when and where surrender is needed.

4. Release the toxic thoughts that arise when you surrender.  If you were taught to fight for what you want and to make things happen, it’s natural to think less of yourself when you allow events to unfold naturally. While deliberate effort is healthy, the need to control the results is rooted in fear. Surrendering, in fact, requires strong acts of courage. Once you acknowledge this as a basic truth, your thoughts about it will start to shift.

5. Realize that surrender can be a good thing, even when it doesn’t feel good.Despite what self-help gurus or spiritual circles might say, surrendering doesn’t always feel freeing, peaceful and blissful. It can often feel painful, terrifying and maddening. But after the sadness, rage or disappointment from relinquishment settles, you can make use of the new space, time and energy to engage in more fruitful activity. Trust the process. Trust your decision to move through it.

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Photo by: Rodger Evans

5 quick tips on responding

Responding appropriately to a core disagreement, unreasonable demand or hostile threat takes skill. The way you respond can have long-lasting effects on your relationships, reputation, and overall sense of peace. 

Here are 5 quick tips on responding:

1. Listen deeply.  Stay present — even when the fight, flight or freeze response has kicked in — to better assess the situation. Start with deep listening. When you’re constantly thinking about what you’re going to say while the speaker is talking, tuning out things you disagree with, and offering unsolicited advice, it’s hard to give an effective response. Watch your breath, allow mental chatter to come and go, and resist the urge to quell anxiety by resorting to an immediate, defensive response.

2. Seek clarification. Ask open-ended questions to build your understanding of the other person’s perspectives, fears, needs and wants.  Refrain from asking leading questions and initiating interrogations, which will escalate discord.

3. Aim for mutual benefiting, not winning.  Trying to convince the other person that you’re right is the goal of most arguments. But arguing your side or pointing out the flaws in the other’s position typically creates more distance. Strive for mutual understanding, instead of making ultimatums or engaging in manipulation. At the same time, it’s healthy to define, set and preserve your boundaries. If you truly cannot find common ground, it’s okay to walk away than fight a losing battle.

4. Let go of the outcome.  You do not control the receiver’s thoughts and feelings about what you say and how you say it, no matter the amount of deliberation that goes into it. What works with one person might not resonate with another. Stay true to your values in your response, but release your attachment to the desired result of your response.

5. Respond, instead of react. Pause, evaluate your options, and give a meaningful response, based on your needs, the other person’s needs, and the situation itself. Reacting according to your instincts, habits, and raw emotions is far less ideal than responding with a calm and clear mind. And sometimes the best response is not responding at all.

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Photo by: Tim Geers

How to give…and receive

Mastering the skill of giving and the art of receiving is a must for creating healthy, lasting and meaningful relationships. Giving freely and receiving wholeheartedly allow us to express our humanity and form deep connections with others. Knowing how to give and how to receive, and gracefully executing that knowledge, are essential to leading a rewarding life.

How to give

True giving is a conscious choice, not an obligation.  If you feel uneasy giving in a certain way to a certain person, then don’t. Find a way to respectfully and gently excuse yourself. Or find a way to transform what feels like a heavy burden into a deliberate decision to give.

Ask yourself if you’re giving the gift to manipulate a situation, force reciprocity, or create a tit-for-tat exchange. If you are, does this benefit you in the long run?  When you give out of sheer kindness, instead of to keep score, the long-term rewards are immeasurable.

Although reciprocity is a natural part of human relationships, expecting something in return and feeling resentful when you don’t get it is not true giving. Realize too that the person might be giving back to you, but not exactly in the manner or within the time frame that you’d like. Just because you gave last doesn’t mean you can’t be the first to give again.

Genuine giving is free from a sense of superiority, self-righteousness and sacrifice. If you’ve ever used phrases like, “After all I’ve done for you, this is the thanks I get,” or “I give so much and get nothing in return,” stop giving. Just stop.

If you give, you don’t control whether the receiver likes it or keeps it. It’s none of your business what they do with it or how well they take care of it. A sincere” thank you” is certainly appreciated when you give. But let go of your attachments to how your gift is received.

How to receive

There’s an old saying that it’s better to give than to receive. But the art of receiving is equally important as the skill of giving. It requires gratitude and appreciation — without the sense of entitlement, the burden of the reciprocity principle, and the uneasiness that might come from taking something from someone.

If you receive a gift that’s not really right for you, you don’t have to let the giver know. You can still appreciate the positive thought behind it. You can always donate it to charity or give it to a friend who would like or use it. The ecosystem will thank you.

Accept help from those you respect and from those who expect nothing in return. Otherwise, if you don’t want to feel indebted to a particular person, avoid asking them for any favors or taking any favors from them, no matter how desperate you might be.

When you accept a gift or a helping hand from someone, be sure to reciprocate. This doesn’t mean you give in to requests that aren’t right for you. But do what you can to return the kindness. You can also pay it forward to those who are more downtrodden than the original giver.

When you know how to receive wholeheartedly, you’ll be able to detect the difference between real gifts and subtle bribes. You can earnestly accept true gifts, regardless of their monetary value, practical use, or aesthetic elements. And you can politely say no to gifts that stem from ulterior motives — or accept them and give them away, without opening yourself up to manipulation.

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Giving freely, without expecting anything in return, isn’t easy. But it’s the kind that provides the most karmic gains. When your giving is tied up with manipulative strings, it will leave you disappointed when the person does not respond in the way you’d like.

Receiving wholeheartedly, without any sense of inferiority, guilt or obligation, is difficult, especially in our quid pro quo world. Nevertheless, it’s the kind that nourishes and enriches us the most. When you can’t receive without immediately thinking, “how will I pay this person back?”, you lose out on the benefits of true receptivity.

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Photo by: Aphrodite