Relationships bring great joy into our lives, but they are also very difficult. All relationships
take work and commitment, whether they are with friends, family members, co-workers, fellow citizens, or any other type of person. In all types of relationships, conflict of some sort will eventually arise because we all have different needs and goals, and we have different experiences and knowledge that lead us to different views of the world. Some of these conflicts are easy to work out, while others lead to deep division and even violent behavior.
Did you know, though, that conflicts are actually a great blessing? That may sound hard to believe since conflicts bring up so many negative feelings and behaviors, but they are also great opportunities for us to grow, if we are able to solve them though our True Selves
Recognizing the True Self
Growing through relationships begins with recognition of your own True Self. It’s feeling clearly that there is some part of you, something that is unconditionally precious and has a deep sense of truth, not affected by your ego or external circumstances. And, it then involves recognizing that the same True Self
exists in the other person with whom you disagree. If you can do this, you will automatically see the pure essence at the center of the other’s being, no matter how “wrong” they may seem to you in the moment.
Recognizing the True Self in yourself and others will have two positive effects on any conflict you face. First, it will keep your mind and your choices centered in your highest self instead of in your egoic self. You will be less likely to lash out or to take actions to hurt the other person. Second, it will allow you to see the whole person
that you are dealing with, not just the parts you don’t like. If you recognize that they, just like you, are a precious being on a spiritual journey to learn and grow here on Earth, you will be able to sympathize more readily with their difficulties and their point of view.
Remaining True to Yourself
Recognizing the other’s True Self does not mean being weak or submissive in the face of conflict. It certainly does not mean giving in to someone else simply to avoid difficulty or to maintain positive emotions
. It is possible to remain centered in your True Self while championing the causes and viewpoints that you believe in. The important thing is to remain true to your highest self as you do so. This means caring for yourself as you continue to care for the other person involved.
Some of the greatest leaders in human history have illustrated the power of standing strong while also acting from the True Self. People like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, held to their highest spiritual principles of remaining non-violent in the face of great injustice, which allowed them to make great, lasting change in their societies. When you do this—remaining strong while also tapping into your highest being—you become much more powerful than you ever could be using simple, ego-centered force to make changes in the world
Taking a Wider Perspective
One of my favorite songs is “From a Distance”
by Bette Midler. The lyrics remind us of God’s wide view of humanity’s situation and encourage us to take that view. One part of the song says: “From a distance/ You look like my friend/ Even though we are at war/ From a distance/ I just cannot comprehend/ What all this fighting’s for.”
These lines are a beautiful reminder that much of what we fight about is petty and that we shouldn’t forget what we have in common. Ultimately, we are not our nationalities, genders, political parties, races, or any other temporary identity of this sort. Rather, we are all growing souls journeying through a lifetime on Earth; we are Earth Citizens
who will benefit more greatly from cooperation and peace than from endless bickering and fighting. Let’s find a way to support each other and to work together for the sake of everyone’s wellbeing, and for the health of the planet and for future generations.
Commiting to a New View
Someday, we will finally end this long period of isolation and upset caused by the pandemic. In some ways, we can look forward to our way of life returning to normal. But let’s also commit to a new way of being. Let’s emerge with a whole new way of seeing the world and relating to our fellow Earth Citizens
. When we meet each other again, let’s greet each other as our True Selves, precious beings who are gifts to each other. With that mindset, differences of opinion and perspective will be much easier to overcome.