When we’re in a conflict, all we can think of is resolution. Typically, our thoughts get loopy, by that I mean they loop over and over on the same track. The standard template of the loop looks like this:
The incident occurs and we immediately begin defining our status as victim (I was a victim to this person’s ill will or selfishness). We then start describing the details of the incident to ourselves and others (Here is what happened. Can you believe it?!). When we tell others our story, we’ve externalized the judge (If the world understood how I was wronged, my situation would be remedied and justice would be served.) As the conflict goes on, more events happen that add to our story and allow us to loop back and refine it. We hold, fondle, massage, and polish the details of our situation so that we’re always ready to make our case to the world, showing the “facts” like a shiny gem. It’s not very complex, really, but it is powerful.
Unfortunately, that process never leads to resolution. Like Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, once we get in front of our magic audience we find it to be an illusion. We find that the people we share our story with either:
a) accept it because they accept us and therefore their acceptance has no real value
b) reject it because they believe someone else’s story and therefore it has no real value
or, if we’re really lucky and we get in front of a real judge, s/he will
c) judge our case on facts that seem irrelevant to our polished story and therefore give us no real sense of validation or justice.
Over and over I hear stories from people who are stuck in this loop like a merry go round. They tell and re-tell their story, adding the latest outrages and little victories. Typically, they’re looking down the road at some point in time when they will prove their story to someone and finally feel “resolved.” Here is my advice to anyone who identifies with this scenario: stop, let go, learn, and move on.
· Stop telling the story in your head, to your friends, and to your therapist. Just stop.
· Let go of the sense of being a victim. Let go of needing to be right. Let go of needing to be validated. Use prayer, meditation, exercise, or any other method that works for you to release yourself. I promise you, you will never obtain the peace you seek by externalizing your “judge.” You know what happened. You don’t need to prove it to anyone else.
· What do you have to learn from this experience that you can take with you in your life? Don’t make this a failure story. Find the growth in it.
· Take actions in your life to put distance between your conflict and your new life. If your partner left you, try dating. If you were fired from a job, find what you love to do and do it.
Please try this. If you find it works, doesn’t work, or you have questions, please write to me. I’m curious about how it works for you.