Life is so much more pleasant when there are no internal conflicts. Decisions are easy, taking action follows smoothly, and joy accompanies the journey. However, when there are internal conflicts, voices that have disparate opinions argue, decisions are difficult, taking action is replaced with stuckness, and turmoil and angst follow.
Given this, it is easily apparent why people would do everything in their power to avoid the pain of inner conflict. Our brains do a good job at reducing our perception of inner conflict by utilizing various defenses. Rather than own and feel the inner conflict, we blame others for putting us in bad situations, we feel put upon by others, we use cognitive dissonance and just don't let ourselves be aware of what we don't want to hear, see, or know, or we use pure denial and don't let certain feelings or thoughts penetrate our consciousness. All these defenses are totally unconscious—meaning that we are not aware in any way that we are doing this in an attempt to avoid pain.
Given that these attempts to avoid internal pain often create ruptures in relationships at home and at work, it is much more advantageous to deal with them consciously. However, the ability to listen to all the internal disparate voices and negotiate a solution that works for all your internal characters is not something most of us are facile at.
Learning how to listen to each character voice their reservations and learn how to negotiate with these internal characters is not only character building, it is a way to create healthy and positive relationships with others. You might ask why. If you are settled in yourself about your decision, your delivery of the information is clear, without tension, and usually lands well, without creating ripples. When, however, you are conflicted inside, the delivery of your decision is fraught with the tension that you are experiencing and without consciously knowing why, others respond to it negatively.
I learned this when I had said “Yes” to two people for two different occasions at the same time. When I told each of them what my decision was, each gave me a hard time. I then spent some time finding out what I really wanted to do and listened deeply to each of the internal voices who had an opinion. I negotiated with each and arrived at a decision I felt good about, that seemed right and true for me. Then I called each of the people involved and delivered the verdict. Each responded with understanding and ease. It was an important lesson for me in coming to internal agreement before telling others about my decision.
The first difficult part of this is to welcome the disparate voices. However, if you know that you will be able to get to a good resolution and move forward positively, this can help you become courageous about inviting these characters to speak. Without hearing their voices consciously, they will sabotage whatever decision you make. Better to welcome them in and negotiate with them until they agree with the decision than to pretend their voices don't exist.
The second difficult aspect of this round table discussion is the negotiation. This is a tall order and will be the focus of a future month. For now, suffice it to say that as you listen to their concerns, hear that each character is attempting to keep you safe and intending to support you, even though it doesn't seem to be so. Find another character, an angel voice, who can express how you feel capable to deal with whatever repercussions emerge.
The practice this week, Listen Well, focuses on bringing out and listening to each voice. Enjoy the practice.