23. August 2013 · Comments Off on Who sinks your boat? Handling difficult conflict · Categories: resolving conflict, Self Help

Welcome to my blog. I add blogs and articles regularly on tips and ideas I have found useful, life-changing and inspiring for this thing we call life. I strive to make them creative and respectful approaches, based on my own work, training and experience and drawing on a range of other sources.

See below for Youtube links of Kris’s talks.

Who Sinks Your Boat?sinking boat 2101854921

Opposites attract and repel. Here’s a powerful key when someone just presses your buttons.

Let’s hope you are spending plenty of time with people who really float your boat. Way to go!

Then there are those others – perhaps close to you, maybe at work, or those frustrating situations that keep recurring – the ‘not this again!’ experience. Well, here’s the trick – opposites do attract; and they also repel, but for a very good reason: (I explain this more fully in my article Who Sinks Your Boat? Resolving conflict from a voice dialogue perspective)

The bottom line is that we have developed certain ways of being, called primary selves, that have worked for us often from a young age and throughout our lives. These ways have now become largely automatic, e.g. being very organised, as a general way of operating in life. Our primary selves help us to feel safe or in charge of our lives, acceptable and accepted. However, many, many conflicts occur with that crazy-making person who just happens to have the opposite energy e.g. laid back or spontaneous. Kinda obvious, right?

However, within this annoying or painful battle of opposites lies the key to transforming our relationship with them and all others like them: we just have to connect with and accept the existence of a part of ourselves which is exactly like them – which is easier said than done of course. But it really does begin there. The person with an organiser primary self has a laid back spontaneous part that may be just longing to get out, breathe, really relax and smell the roses. While the laidback spontaneous dude might gain much satisfaction and personal pride from learning to plan and follow through – and also get those finicky, pushy organisers off his back a bit.

Handling difficult conflict

We don’t have to give up our preferred way of being and become that opposite. We just need to be honest enough to first admit it is also part of us, and then become aware of its needs and the benefits it could bring to us. This unhooks us from seeing our way as RIGHT and the other as WRONG, which is the core conflict. Then we no longer have to judge the other person. And nor are we driven to change them to be like us. There is room to move and explore the advantages – and limits – of both ways of being.

This kind of awareness allows us a more detached place in ourselves from which to deal with the situation and sort out and set our own boundaries. It frees us to see both the other person and ourself as an ordinary human with different strengths and vulnerabilities. Remember, they too will have developed their way of being in order to manage their life experience and feel safe, belonging and accepted. These are simply core human needs, and the ways which we each innocently develop to get these met will depend on our family dynamics, personality and life events. Once we become aware, we can choose to respond in constructive and creative ways, rather than being driven by our reactions and their downward spiral.

It can be powerful, and ultimately freeing, to ask:

What is this current conflict costing you?

What would be gained by developing a different kind of relationship with this person?

And, to quote Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth, another question worth asking at this point is

How much time do you need before you will be ready to let go of it?


My presentation on this topic in 2012 at the Woodford Folk Festival can be viewed here via these links: 

Who Sinks Your Boat? 1: Conflict and Evolution  11:40

Who Sinks Your Boat? 2: Primary selves – who are you in a conflict?  4:49

Who Sinks Your Boat? 3: Primary selves in conflict: the joy of being right  5:14

Who Sinks Your Boat? 4: How to use a conflict to change things forever  8:18

Who Sinks Your Boat? 5: Relationships: opposites attract?  7:12

Who Sinks Your Boat? 6: The Consciouness Process  2:56

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