Dealing With Conflict

Being in a relationship can be overwhelming. It can seem difficult to maintain your individuality. Your sense of self, who you are and what you stand for, may be threatened when your mate has a decidedly different opinion or exhibits behavior very different from yours. An unconscious desire to maintain your self-identity urges you to make the other person agree with your point of view, conflict results. When you are in a conflict situation with negative feelings running high, you may want to win, to be in control, to protect yourself, to punish the other person, and so on. At that moment, winning can become an all-consuming desire. You may say or do completely irrational things that cause long-term damage to your relationship.

Later, when you’ve cooled down and gained some emotional and psychological distance, you can see that the little thing (or even the big thing) you were fighting about wasn’t really that important. At the time, however, you acted as if it were the only thing that mattered. Or you may realize that your response was just a conditioned reaction that was completely inappropriate to what was really going on. How can you remember at these times that your relationship is the most important thing? We use a process we call jumping to a higher logical level.

Although the higher logical level process is easy to understand, like many simple things it is not necessarily easy to do. Jumping to a higher logical level is a matter of gaining emotional distance from the source of your internal disturbance, so that you can give it a name. Then you are no longer caught in it because some part of your awareness is witnessing events as they unfold. Once your witness, or observer, is turned on, you move out of the realm of powerlessness into the realm of freedom where you have choices and options.

When you are feeling powerless, you have no choice—you are stuck. You carry an emotional weight of fear and inadequacy. It seems as though events just happen to you and everything is arbitrary. You have no way to influence outcomes. Behaviors tend to be automatic, conditioned responses. However, when you jump to a higher logical level, activating your observer consciousness, you do have choices. You can choose what to think about and how to think about it. You have the options of focusing your attention on something other than what you were caught in, and you can change how you were thinking about what you were caught in.

For example, if you notice yourself worrying about money, you could instead stop, listen to the sounds that you hear, the aromas you smell, the sights you see, and so on. Paying attention to your senses will always bring you back into the moment, out of the never-ending labyrinth of your mind. Or you can decide that instead of thinking about money right now, you will think about the rendezvous later this evening with your mate. Or you can decide to repeat an affirmation over and over to yourself, such as, “I can learn to create abundance in all areas of my life. I can learn to easily attract all the money that I need and want.”

Jumping to a higher logical level is a meta-strategy, a strategy that enables you to manage other strategies in your life. It is generally useful in any situation where 1) the contents of the process are less important than the nature of the thought process itself, and 2) the thought process exhibits increasingly negative side effects and fewer tangible benefits. For example, what I worry about is less important than that I am engaged in the process of worrying. Why I am hyperactive is less important than that I am hyperactive. What I am procrastinating over is less important than that I am procrastinating. What I lose my temper over is less important than that I am losing my temper.

Jumping to a higher logical level does not mean you pretend you don’t have any problems or ignore your responsibilities of relationship, parenting, finance, employment, health, and so on. This is not an avoidance strategy. Rather it helps you handle them in appropriate ways at appropriate times.