…by Brian Walker
Conflict is everywhere and is inevitable. The real issue comes down to how one handles it. If you are like me, you tend to avoid conflict because it’s not a pleasant thing to deal with. In my perfect world, I don’t think there would be conflict, but at the same time it would be an incredibly boring world to live in. Then there are others, on the opposite side of the coin, who love conflict and thrive on heated debate. At times, I wish I would embody their natural aptitude to deal with conflict, while I’m sure some of them wish they could find ways to defuse conflict. Again, it comes down to how we handle conflict, whether we need to face it or diffuse it.
Greg gave us some great tools for helping to deal with family conflict, perhaps even conflict in general. One that I thought was really good from the message was the circle. Perhaps you could even call it the circle of ownership, since we use it to really define our part in the conflict. What a crucial exercise it is for us to identify our part and then work toward solving that issue.
This is a great tool for us and I would suggest a few things to help it succeed. First, I would suggest that you practice the circle with only one relationship. By focusing on only one relationship, you should be able to get a good handle as to what this process really looks like and how it feels. I would also say that the relationship should be “safe.” “Safe” essentially means that there is already an established foundation of love and trust. With that foundation, you should be safe to make a mistake since the other person trusts and loves you.
Second, you need to develop a plan. Once you have identified your part of the problem you need to develop a plan to change it. What you might do is talk things through with someone to help think of some ideas. Then you should break those ideas down into easy next steps. Finally, be sure to write them down as a plan. The simple act of writing them down helps to cement them as something you are going to do.
Third, I would encourage you to not do this alone. If you were able to practice the circle in a single relationship, hopefully that person would be using the circle at the same time. But this doesn’t mean having the other person hold you accountable to your plan to change. Instead, each of you should be working somewhat independently with your own support system (people that will hold you accountable). If you don’t have this support system or accountability partner, I would strongly encourage it. Perhaps it is someone in your small group or a trusted friend that you grew up with. Find one and make sure they are someone that you feel is trustworthy and will hold you accountable.