How We Can Master Power Dynamics In Relationships And Transform Conflict
One of the main reasons humanity is suffering from fear is that we do not trust each other.
The reason we do not trust each other is because we are afraid of each other. The reason we are afraid of each other and we do not trust each other -and then we become afraid of each other- is because we perceive others to be totally and absolutely separate from us.
There is something important to understand here: Separation is not a bad thing. In fact it is an important element of the physical dimension. In essence it is the main reason for our existence in this physical dimension. The whole point of separation is to allow for the manifestation of a plentitude of different perspectives of “being”/source energy.
The spiritual idea that separation is an illusion is also useful. It points us to the direction of unity. The concept of unity refers to the spiritual truth that we are all part of the same source energy and we are therefore tightly connected to one another as if we were one entity. The truth of unity guides us to understand that whatever happens to one person affects everyone and that we are all constantly reflecting each other’s thoughts and emotions.
While we are all experiencing our separate identities in this time-space reality, we need to keep an eye on unity (the fact that we are all one and we form part of a collective consciousness), otherwise we are in for a great lot of suffering in this life.
I urge people not to use the concept of unity as a way to negate or avoid the physical world, to negate or avoid their emotions, and their unique identity. Instead I invite people to honour their own unique perspective precisely by understanding how this perspective forms part of collective consciousness (which is what our mission in life is all about). Even for people that cannot recognise the concept of unity as their truth, I recommend that they try to use it, as it is an excellent working hypothesis for happier relationships. And nothing can help the world move past fear, war, and suffering better than happy, trustful relationships.
Relationships suffer primarily from the agony of power. This agony is expressed as the following worry: “If I let down my guard, do you have the power to hurt me or destroy me by acting in ways that are not in accordance with my best interests?” I challenge you to look into any conflict, whether inter-personal or inter-national, whether it is a conflict you have with the shop assistant or with your life-partner. You will not find one where this question is not central in the conflict. And it will be central for both/all parties.
The concept of unity helps us navigate through conflict by bringing into our attention the following five guidelines. If we become aware of these guidelines and begin to teach our mind how to take them into account when we are in the middle of a conflict, we will experience revelations and we will find emotional solutions in the midst of even the most difficult conflictive emotional dead-ends. Even if the conflict does not disappear in its totality (conflicts may persist if there is a need or more space for growth and transformation), there will be some kind of positive transformation. Here are the 5 guidelines of spiritual unity:
There is no way you can damage somebody else without damaging yourself at the same time.
You cannot truly get what you want without the other person also getting what they want.
What ever annoys you in others is a part of yourself that you have disowned or rejected.
The other party in the conflict feels exactly the same way as you.
If we change, everyone around us changes.
Please feel free to not take my word for it, but take these guidelines back into your life and test them. I have yet to encounter a conflictive situation where they did not apply.
Nevertheless, even with the knowledge, conviction and proof that the five guidelines of unity are true and applicable, it can still be hard to escape the suffering of power dynamics in relationships. And the more intimate the relationship the more difficult it becomes. This is why, once we have tested them and we have found proof for the truth of unity, we need to take some further actions in our awareness. Here are the most fundamental awareness actions that you can take:
Work on the emotion of shame. Feel and understand your shame, as well as your fear of shame. Shame and fear of shame are central in most of our power games. We do not want to feel shame. Shame is the basic ingredient of vulnerability. The moment we feel it we know we are vulnerable. We perceive this vulnerability as our disadvantage in our relationships (that is when the other person can really hurt us). But without vulnerability we are not real. We are not authentic. We are hiding. Small attempts to be willing to feel shame and vulnerability will go a long way to help you have relationships where you feel more connection and more trust.
Find out in which ways the other person’s annoying/ threatening/ displeasing behaviour is part of yourself. If you cannot find it it is not because it is not there, keep looking. When you find it, try to see how you can like it, accept it and love it. This attempt, I promise you, will feel as if you are going against all your natural instincts (in a sense you are). But if humanity is to take physical existence a step further, this is the level of discomfort required. A lot of people misunderstand this practice (and the whole idea of unity in this sense) as a justification for violence or for blaming the victim. It is not. All that it means is that the most effective way to transform violence, injustice and power abuse in this world is to start from within. It is not the easiest way but it is the most effective and one that does not lead to even more conflict and even more violence. Try it out in small scale: in your own personal relationships.
Work with your inner child. Our inner child is the guardian of our trauma. It takes over in most of our interactions with others. It safeguards all our fears and worries. Watch how every conflict you have with others (lovers, partners, friends, strangers, authority etc) resembles the conflicts you experienced in your childhood with your parents and careers and other authority. There are therapists and healers who can help us work through our inner child’s trauma. You can do it on your own if you have resources, but I do recommend a therapist or a healer who does inner child work, because childhood trauma is rooted in relationships and it can be resolved more effectively through a relationship (such as the therapeutic or healing relationship) .
Learn how to take a leap of faith for the sake of your desire and your joy. The kind of leap of faith I am talking about here could be anything from claiming some alone time away from your family, to communicating to your partner your need for a specific kind of attention, to making a radical change in your appearance without asking anybody’’s opinion. The reason we find these things difficult is because they activate our fear of rejection or abandonment (this is after all one of the worst ways the people we love can hurt us). Our resistance to taking such leaps of faith is the main reason for all our codependency patterns. Codependency is ultimately all about me having the kind of emotional power over you that will guarantee me that you will not reject me or leave me. It has the following long term effect: I learn how to focus on keeping you with me, more often than not, by sacrificing my joy and my desires. If I would focus on joy and desires I would be risking three things: a) you rejecting me and/or leaving me, b) me rejecting you and/or leaving you, c) me being so real in my relationship with you that, If you keep staying with me, I then feel connected, honoured and seen, and as result I feel truly loved and I can truly trust you.
The silver-lining in our willingness to introduce a level of awareness in our relationships matching an equal level of discomfort, is that we will, without a doubt, begin to experience more compassion towards ourselves and others, less self-hate, more love, more trust and we will begin to free ourselves from the suffering that power games bring upon us. At the same time we will be laying the foundations for less conflict and pain in the world. This will ultimately, somewhere down the line, manifest as world peace.
Text by Birds WG