Overcoming The Challenges of Communication

Published: 07th February 2012
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The relations between human beings has been interesting me lately. During the last year I have had more conflict with people I have considered my friends than I have had in over ten years. Maybe I need to reconsider my definition of friendship. I have experienced conflict in the work place by walking off a job in anger and being fired from another one. I lost a few friends in that process. This also resulted in the loss of a lifestyle that had supported me for almost two decades. In my personal life, I had a huge disagreement with my sister and we didn't speak for months. I had another falling out with one of my closest girlfriends and we didn't speak for over a year. However, both of these personal relationships are on the mend and stronger than before.

On top of all this, there were two older men, one being a decade older than me, the other two decades older, both in my spiritual community, that wanted to date me. I had been very honest with both of them and told them I wasn't feeling the same for them and that I just wanted to be friends. I thought this was understood, but apparently they didn't understand my words or take me seriously. Needless to say, one of these friendships has been ruined and I have no mournful feelings about that loss because he began getting mean, say very inappropriate things to me and scared me. When I get scared, I get mad. My friendship with the other gentleman is on very rocky grounds now. I'm feeling sad about the possible loss of his friendship because I really care about him as a friend and as my peer.

I am the common denominator in all of these relationships so I have been thinking that it is something I need to take a look at. I take full responsibility for quitting my job without notice and getting fired from the other one even though there were extenuating circumstances that were completely out of my hands. I have tried to repair the friendships lost from these work situations. Some tell me they have no hard feelings but I feel a huge distance between us nonetheless and I am saddened by their absence in my daily life. There are others that have made it very clear to me that they are not willing to befriend me again and have severed contact with me no matter how hard I try. This is much more difficult to deal with. I'm uncomfortable when people don't like. In my personal life, I let my anger come between my sister and I. With my friend whom I didn't speak with for a year, I share the blame. Oddly, I have gotten along better with my family than I ever have before.

The lesson I am learning from this is that everything is impermanent. Everything changes whether we want it to or not. Just like the ebb and flow of the tides in life, some friendships aren't meant to last. Some people share our path for a short time while others remain with us for years and years. I cannot be attached to what was, or feel responsible for how people react. I have never claimed to be perfect, nor the best communicator. I am trying to speak my truth more clearly and remain strong when others try to use their words to hurt me or to project their feelings on me. Self doubt will come up but I have to remember that we are all just doing the best we can. We are all at different levels in our awareness and some people are more conscious than others. I must continue to be myself and try to silently send those people love, like the Buddhist Metta contemplation. (Please read the article I wrote titled "Cultivating Friendliness" to find out more about the Metta Meditation.)

As long as we are true to ourselves and speak the truth to others what more can we do? I am not one to yell when I am angry. My whole nervous system gets very rattled when others yell at me and I have tried to avoid confrontation as best I can. Yet the more I try to avoid it, the more conflict seems to come my way. This reminds me of the yogic teaching of attachment and aversion, raga and dvesha, respectively.

We are attached to what feels good and we avoid what doesn't. It makes perfect sense. Yet when something keeps repeating itself in a negative manner, we must really self reflect and search for the answers that lie hidden within us. Self depreciation is not the answer. Not all of these failed relations are fault of my own. Like I said earlier, I take responsibility for my part in them. Of course, the more we push something away, the more it plays out. These episodes keep getting more intense until we are willing to take an honest look into the root cause of negative relations. Once we become brutally honest with ourselves, we may not like what we see. This is why I think we bury our feelings inside, ignore them or simply walk away without resolving the issue. My tendency is to walk away. I find it hard to talk things out when they get heated and angry. I'm flight not fight.

But how can we grow and become better human beings if we continue to run from confrontation or face it in anger? We must learn to deal with stress and control our feelings of fight or flight which are directly related to the sympathetic nervous system. When our nervous system is in this state, we are reacting to stress and preparing for danger. Yet we become unable to grow and repair. As we learn to remain calm, we become better equipped to deal with tension, aggression and anger. The practice of yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises) are tools we can use to remain calm and steady in the face of challenge. However, we are humans with emotions and not robots. We are living, breathing, feeling creatures. We must learn to treat each other with more sensitivity and kindness and be willing to talk to each other because everyone has a different perspective.

I am thankful for all these life experiences because they invite me to be honest, sensitive and calm which teaches me to grow into a better human being. After all, life is given to us to awaken from our dream.

Om Shanti Shanti Shantih Om Peace, Peace, Peace.....


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