I recently wrote about some conflict I was having at work and shared my thoughts and feelings about dealing with it. Having now resolved the situation, I wanted to spend a few moments exploring the situation and reflecting on what went well and what could have been done better.
I felt so nervous the morning that I was due to meet with the other person. I knew there were things I could have done differently to deal with the situation but I also knew I was right to put forward my views and not bottle everything up and pretend everything was all ok when it wasn’t. It was really helpful to spend a moment in meditation on the train to work and, through this meditation, to affirm that my worthiness – my inherent acceptability and loveability – was not dependent on the outcome of the conversation. My worthiness is something created and defined by me, not by situations and the views of other people.
Standing in the knowledge of my own worthiness left me able to express myself instead of looking for approval from the other person.
I know in hindsight that it would have been better to resolve the issue face-to-face right from the start, but this was not possible due to me being sick, meetings that were taking up everyone’s time and some leave I was taking.
Ok, if I’m honest, this is not 100% true. I could have called the person straight away and I might have got through to them and sorted it out there and then. The reason I didn’t was that it would have been a call fuelled by my hurt and anger.
What I’ve taken from reflecting on this is that, yes, my response wasn’t perfect but it was the best I could do at that time and that’s got to be enough for me.
My biggest reflection of this experience is how I interpret the actions, words and intent of other people. Because if I’m honest, when I read the email that the person sent me and which sparked this conflict, I didn’t interpret it in the most positive, generous way possible. I took it badly and she took my response equally badly too. I’ve been thinking about this concept of generosity since I read these words in Brené Brown’s book:
“Whenever someone would bring up a conflict with a colleague, [my tutor] would ask, ‘What is the hypothesis of generosity? What is the most generous assumption you can make about this person’s intentions or what this person said?’”
In hindsight if I had interpreted the actions of the other person in a more generous way, this whole situation could have been averted.
I’m not saying the situation was all my fault or that there was nothing they could have done differently, but if there’s anything I can learn, it’s to be generous with how I interpret the actions of others.
The child in me during those situations of conflict wants to scream and cry and have a tantrum – why do I have to be the bigger person and see things generously? It’s not fair that I am left without the enjoyment of letting myself be pissed off, annoyed and self-righteously angry – but I know I’d rather live a kind life, with generosity, even if it pains me sometimes. Because the opposite also leads to pain too – distancing myself from others, leading a life based on worst case scenarios and finding myself in situations of unnecessary conflict.
Yesterday, once the confrontation and discussion with the other person had been resolved, I was still left feeling a bit icky.
But it’s time to let things go.
So whenever the situation has come up in my head again, I’m changing the usual dialogue of worry and anxiety. I’m remembering how I did my best. Telling myself that, yes, my best wasn’t perfect, but I don’t have to be perfect. I’m focusing on how much I’ve learnt through this experience and, who knows, maybe that was what this experience was meant to bring me.
And this self-talk is working, I can now let go of all this conflict, leave the past in the past and enjoy being at peace in the present moment.