Comment: In emotional issues, the primary requirement is safety; ultimately we need to resolve the underlying difficulties to a place of peaceful resolution.
MacQuarrie Email Program #08 — The Blowing Out Process, Part 2
In the previous email, I introduced the Blowing Out process, and noted two essential features.
- We get stuck because we do not manage our emotional energy.
- Ultimately we need to resolve the conflict so as to be at peace with the issues.
Frequently we believe that we need to resolve the conflict before we can resolve our emotions. I suggest that this is nonsense — we can easily reduce the intensity of our emotions without dealing with the conflict directly, and in so doing, we are in much better position to manage the conflict.
Your task for this email: Answer the following question in your journal — How badly do you want to resolve the conflicts of your life? What follows requires that you sort your own contribution to conflict from that of the other person(s), and become accountable for correcting yourself, as well as apologizing for your own actions. Did I say this would be easy? No, just effective!
So, the rest of the Blowing Out Process.
The first part of the accompanying diagram is a repeat of what I presented in the past email. But note what follows!
To repeat, create safety; discharge the energy. This is overall a 10-minute process if approached skillfully (in later emails, I will be addressing issues such as time-outs and the specifics of how to release energy).
At this point, learn the message of the energy. When the energy is released, the mind becomes clearer. You are now able to recognize one of two states:
- either the energy somehow has seemed familiar (“I’ve been here before”) — which means that an issue of powerlessness has been tapped, or
- the behaviors of the other have somehow been inappropriate (They said they would do something, and they didn’t; or they lied; or some such). Such states are the issues of true conflict!
This learning of what I call The Message is key. Usually the distinction is quite clear cut: it might be 90% one and 10% the other; but seldom is it a 50-50 split. If it is, begin with the issues of powerlessness. There is an appropriate statement in the Bible (incidentally, the bible is a great manual of therapy): Deal with the log in your own eye before you deal with the splinter in your neighbor’s eye (you see better!). alternatively, in an airplane decompression event, put on your own mask before you put the mask on your companion. The work is then easier.
If it is indeed a self-issue, that of powerlessness, it may require extensive work, perhaps with a therapist. In any event, apologize to the other. Tell them, for example, that you have been caught in your own issues, and truly apologize. Indicate that you are working on changing the issue, and if necessary will keep them informed (especially needed if the issue is with a life partner). And get on with it — your own difficulties will recur until you have achieved some kind of resolution.
Notice the thick line in the diagram. I put it there to emphasize that everything above that line is 100% your responsibility, and within your power to change. Everything! Spoons do not cause carrots! Spoons only bring carrots to the surface.
What about the conflict?
True conflict means that in some fashion the behavior of the other has been inappropriate. (It may well be that your own behavior has also been inappropriate. If so, revert back to what I said about powerlessness. It is time to apologize, and correct your own powerlessness.)
Also note the distinction between resolution and solution. Solution means that the problem goes away; resolution means that all parties are at peace with the outcome (the difficulty may still exist, but it no longer bothers people).
Note two very important considerations:
- most life issues (~70%) are not solvable; all of them are resolvable.
- because I can manage my energy, I can always choose to cooperate. I don’t have to like cooperating in order to choose to cooperate; what I want is resolution.
The choice now comes down to whether or not the other is cooperative. (NB. If you do not apologize for your own inappropriate contributions, the likelihood of the other being cooperative is small. Other people listen better when you first account for your own contribution — so step up to the plate! You will frequently be surprised by how effective if you sincerely apologize.)
If the other is cooperative, I maintain that human beings are not stupid — just habitual. Explore together what are the issues, and plan possible resolutions that work for both of you (if it is not successful for both of you, one of you is sure to sabotage the efforts). It may require a number of trial resolutions, but persist, and manage your energy in the interim. This is what is called win-win solutions, and will be explored further in a later email.
If the other is not cooperative (and here, actions speak louder than words), attempting to make them cooperative will not be successful (more on this later). My standard is that I will make two attempts to elicit cooperation, and if unsuccessful, I then will shift to other skill sets. Again this will be the topic of a later email.
A hint: the skills of managing non-cooperative conflict are very different from the skills required for cooperative conflict. Bottom line — overall, I will not violate others (I will not dump my energy on them), but I am not a doormat either — I do not easily tolerate people who will not cooperate with me (more later!)
Coming next: Gathering data — the John James Game Plan
(as well as a review email of the first eight emails)