When one is unable to find a settled point of view full of sympathy or sadness after being attacked, unable to let the initial outsized reaction pass through and within after being attacked, unable remove from conscious thought those words used in the attack, opposing forces of attack and push-back create a storm front which rains a river which separates the forces on the banks which remain solid and unchanging while the river carries time away from both.
>If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true or false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced. â€” Frank Herbert
The contending forces of keeping to one’s self the hurt and anger versus requiring external validation for it all tends to be the fundamental energy draining activity in a given dust up, demanding so much time that the only way to justify it all is to elevate it to principle. Write and wrong, true or false, self or world+dog: these are the things at stake when you’re stuck in that local minima in your mind.
The wiser course of action of course is to avoid the internal contention and the way you do that is to wick off the negativity before it gets out of hand. Find the bigger, broader view of things and you’ll see witness the relative unimportance.
>[H]umans tend to think of everything in a sequential, word-oriented framework. This mental trap produces very short-term concepts of effectiveness and consequences, a condition of constant, unplanned response to crises. â€” Frank Herbert
Only through experience (i.e., practice over study) of dispatching of conflict in the shorter term (i.e., argument, which is a dialog intended to change the nature of truth) can keep you out of the gravity wells of prolonged dissent. The obvious Catch-22 is that it takes experience in conflict resolution to be able to resolve a current conflict!
I can throw out some aphorisms, “nip it in the bud”, “practice makes perfect”, etc., but it really comes down wherewithal, and the desire to return to harmony and the unwillingness to settle for an enforced peace.
The unplanned response to a crisis is nothing more than running about and putting out fires instead of addressing the source of fires in order to prevent them.
A learned ability: entering conflict despite hesitation & fear with the goal of vanquishing the conflict, not the person.
The unpracticed person will deal with conflict by “putting it behind us” instead of sorting through it in the moment because the unpracticed person never developed the chops to stand up, arms out, and let the unpleasantness pass within, where the mind then must deal with it. It makes you vulnerable, but even that can be ameliorated by the very admission of vulnerability (I don’t like to think about that too much because, like recursion in software development, paradox is magic. Besides, the truth can suffer from too much analysis: better to accept the axiomatic and move on).
So how can you spot the unpracticed soul? Pay attention to the not-his/her-usual-self behaviors, word and deed. In the face of dissent the unawareness reacts, throwing whatever it can to avoid conflict: lies, misrepresentations, reversal of blame, distance, silence, lobbed bombs over self-made walls.
And what to do when you face the unpracticed soul? Absorb the bile, because likely it’s not bile (for that is an intentional force), absorb it and then let is pass, because deep-down you know it’s not representative of that person’s core. It’s panic: ugly, banal panic. It’s a duck-and-cover freak-out.
Instead, be the other person as best you can and inhabit that. Be alone with that and understand, for we’re all the same, all theme and variation. Ciao illuminated the beauty of that point of view for me. And when you’re alone and trying on the emotions of another, ask yourself what you might do?
>The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. -Thomas B. Macaulay
Would you protect the lies? Would you see your “self” diminished by secrecy? Would you be inured to it? Would you prefer the unspoken? Would you wish yourself unburdened by the rusted wreckage of past sins of commission? Of omission?
Put it all back, situate it back into the original person and look at him/her again. How can you fail to understand that none of your impressions could be correct? How could you continue to think you know the happiness or misery of another? How little does being right or superior even come close to the simple humility of the unknowable?
Anyone who could claim they know if another person is happy or sadâ€”unless it had been told explicitly by that personâ€”is too unpracticed in the art of candid conflict and resolution thereof to engage and thereby all hope of healthy dispensation must be belayed, in which case another art must be practiced: SpannÃ¼ngsbogen, the bend of the bow. To fly an arrow one must first pull back, wait until ready/prepared.
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I wrote to my good friend Vince because I was struggling with understanding of something specific:
>I have been thinking for a while now that given a choice of allegiance to the truth/facts or allegiance to a friend (who lies and you know it), I’d choose truth every time. Consequently, I try to be the kind of person who doesn’t make friends choose between me and fact.
>Anyway, do you have any advice for allowing the high despisement I feel to pass over & thru, so as not to give the ego any attention?
Vince, being both learner and (excellent) teacher understands me when I speak using this kind of framework.
>Well, often times we set ourselves off as “separate from” others… “I am like this, they are like that…” What I find most useful is to remember that They are me, I am them. We are all suffering, some in different ways than others, but all the same…[…] It really helps me to remember I am not really all that different or separate from anyone…
>If that isn’t helpful, you did start the process by recalling the ways he might be suffering? Having compassion and building your compassion is a great practice. Often referred to in the Theravadan tradition as Metta Practice, it’s to really focus your attention on the well being of those who may have hurt us.
Completely ass-backwwards to “common wisdom”, no? But it makes sense: I do have a grasp (however tenuous) on what he’s saying. Still, if I didn’t, if nothing else, it provides a mindspace which is relative instead of absolute: dissent is never about facts. Argue facts and you’re on your way to offering proofs and evidence. Understand that we all “inter-are” and you see a wound and set about finding healing. I don’t mean mending, necessarily.
>So many faces in and out of our life, some will last, some will just be now-and-then. â€” Billy Joel, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood”
We live, we understand. Singly only we know our happiness, collectively we should add more to the general good will than we take. Thoughts of another are unknowable. Deeds are knowable to all, attempts to cover up out of fear, anger, loathing, shame to the contrary.
In the end, do you want to win or do you want solace?