Growing a Heart of Peace in Conflict
Have you read the Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute? If you are in a relationship, I recommend that you read it. Like soon. Or watch this rather historical five minute video to get the gist of it.
One of the central premises in the book is how to maintain a “heart of peace” rather than a “heart of war” in times of conflict, and life in general.
What is a heart of war?
Let’s start with how a heart of war feels. It feels cold, righteous, offended, wronged. This is the part of us that wants to attack and defend during a disagreement or situation that is not pleasing to us. You might hear words in your head like, “Who would do something like that?” or “He is such an jerk! Sitting there, talking to me like that!” You might even hear yourself saying in your head, “I haaaaate her!”
A heart of war is marked by making the other person an object
rather than staying connected to him as a person.
What is a heart of peace?
Again, let’s start with how a heart of peace feels. A heart of peace feels quiet, soft, present in the moment. A heart at peace is the part of us that sees the “other” as a human being…as someone trying to get her needs met. You might hear words in your heart like, “This is my wife and she is in pain” or “This is the man that I have chosen to spend my life with.” A heart at peace is interested in staying connected, in growing, and in giving love.
“Yeah, that is great Jenny buuuut…..”
Yes, I know many of you might be thinking, “Yes, that sounds good in theory but that ain’t goin’ down in my house during conflict!”
Full disclosure: last night I had an argument with my husband. And at that moment when I felt my own heart of war rising up…the part of me that wanted to outline the many errors in his words and point out the contradictions and further demonstrate how wrong he was…right then, at that moment, I had enough sense of Self to breathe (thank God for the breath!), connect with myself…the part of myself that is bigger and deeper than the present moment…and reorient to the heart of peace.
In that reorientation, I heard myself say inside, “This is my husband. My husband.” These few words were enough to ground out the tantrum-y parts that wanted to war so that I was able to engage more kindly and from a place of working towards relating to my partner rather than proving my point.
Where is it that you harbor a heart of war with a partner or significant other? Where do you feel yourself loading up with the ammo in preparation for battle or setting the stage for emotional bloodshed?
Where do you reorient and see your partner as a human being? As a being wanting to be seen, valued, and heard — just like you?
And here is your invitation. When you feel the cold, rigidity of the heart of war creeping in, how can you connect to your higher Self and invoke a heart of peace. How can you exercise the heart of peace practice throughout your day at work and at home? This is a muscle in you that grows and strengthens with every word, action, and thought.
If you are interested in having some focused support of working the growth of your heart of peace, call me. I love this stuff!
Jenny Glick, MA, MSC, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of the Counseling Center of Cherry Creek. Her job is to transform individuals and couples from BLAH to BAM. Why not transform today?