One interpretation of the name of my practice, “Restored. Conflict Resolution for Life”, might be that the conflict gets resolved in a way that will last a lifetime. “This resolution comes with a lifetime guarantee!” I’m imagining one of those thirty foot tall, noodly limbed, flailing balloon people you often see outside of car dealerships, and a camera shot that zooms in and out from my face while I holler this promise to the folks “watching at home” on their televisions. Somehow there’s also a fat cigar in my hand, I’m wearing a western shirt and a string tie, and now I’m a forty year old man in a ten gallon hat, too. Okay, enough daydreaming and stream-of-consciousness silliness.
I do like the idea of longevity when I think of the phrase “conflict resolution for life”, but not in terms of one resolution that lasts for a lifetime. I think of it more as a learned way of engaging with conflict in our lives that will last, and even develop, over a lifetime. I also like the idea that engaging with conflict in a healthy and whole hearted manner will bring with it more life, more depth and breadth of life, more abundant life.
Practicing healthy and whole conflict resolution is a lifelong practice of learning and relearning. It’s dynamic and challenging, personally and interpersonally. You might think that you’ve learned a skill through one situation, only to find that you need to relearn it in a different one. It may seem like you don’t know how to handle the new situation when it comes up in completely different circumstances, until the light dawns and you realize that “…we’ve been here before”. (Lord of the Rings fans, you know who you are.) It sounds hard, and it sounds kind of never ending, so why do it?
If this sounds exhausting rather than exhilarating, it might be helpful to consider your perception of conflict and its function throughout the course of our lives. What would your life have been like if, up to this day, you’d never experienced conflict of any kind? What would you be like? What would you have learned about yourself, and others? What would you not have learned? How would you have grown as a person, or not grown?
When conflict disrupts the smooth running of our daily lives, it is a rich opportunity to learn something (maybe for a second, third, or fourth time) about yourself, other people, and life in general. It takes time, effort, emotional investment, and vulnerability to resolve conflict in a healthy and whole hearted way. Each time you do, you will deepen and broaden access to more of your own life in a way that will last and grow, for the rest of your life.