“The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.”
After studying and practicing in the area of conflict engagement and transformation for over 20 years, there is one lesson I keep learning time and again. It might seem quite obvious at face value; however, a simple principle does not make it easy to practice. What keeps revealing itself to me is that the more I come from a place of calm, the more any conflict I face dissipates. I can find a new solution, new resolve, more peace in my heart. Sometimes the other person has a change of heart through my own. The more calm and in peace I am, the more robust the outcome every time.
Conversely, the more stressed I get, the more trouble I seem to get into.
The newest example was with an acquaintance who was talking about someone else who was troubling her. It was the end of a long day for me. I was tired and the more she talked about this other person, the more her mood seemed to shift to frustration. The more stressed she got, the more I picked up on her stress. Within a few minutes, I could feel my body constricting in that familiar way that tells me I am separating from my wise self. I found myself starting to judge her in my mind and wanting to leave the conversation quickly.
As I reflected on the incident later on my own and in a more balanced state, I saw this person in a more compassionate light. I could see that she was simply struggling with what to do with a relationship very important to her. My thinking and perspective on her shifted as my own state of consciousness came into a restful state.
How is this awareness of our shifting internal states useful?
The first practice is to even notice that your state is changing. Catching ourselves becoming agitated gives us choice then about taking some self-soothing action. A friend of mine was talking about petting his dog as he engaged in a difficult conversation.
Whenever you notice that you are tired or stressed or being triggered by someone else, take that as a signal to give yourself some self-care right in the moment. Ask for a minute to think. Take a quick stretch. Sit in silence and watch your breath for half a minute. Each of these micro breaks can be enough to ground you back into your own resourced, wise self.