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conflict (Copy)The biggest conflict lies in the desire to not have conflict. More than a part of life, conflict is a way of life. Everything from cells to stars must endure it, as conflict is necessary for all growth. Trying to avoid conflict is futile. Instead, by understanding its benefits, you can use conflict to your great advantage, by stepping beyond your comfort zones, and growing in wisdom and influence.

Conflict is important to biological systems as the driver of evolution. But it works much the same in our daily lives, helping us step into the next stage of experience and understanding. As conflict moves through its arc of tension and resolution, it ultimately opens us up to a new perspective. This leap in consciousness happens repeatedly throughout our lifetime, demonstrating a continued spiritual expansion, which often appears independent of the mind, but in reality, can be controlled by the way we use our mind, and much more than by merely thinking alone.

Internal Conflict

It’s easy to forget sometimes that conflict isn’t just between people and the outside world, it happens most often internally. Conflict is a part of our everyday decision making process, so something as simple as what to have for dinner can render some people batty. This is the mind at work. Most of us can’t stop the process—it’s a necessary component of the psyche meant to keep us authentic.

Although inner struggle can at times be painful, some have learned to become Zen with it; some have even come to like it. A good fight every now and again is good for the soul, and why not? Conflict has its advantages: It leads to resolution, self-awareness, discovery of new boundaries, and the removal of fear. At the very least, it takes us to the next stage of development, whether personal or professional—we need conflict to create and expand.

In the end, you can’t get away from it even if you tried—and why would you want to? It would be impossible to survive, let alone thrive without the internal function of conflict to guide you. By knowing and understanding your highest values—the drivers of your decision making process—you can turn those moments of inner conflict into a guiding mechanism to move you toward your higher purpose.

Many people do not tune-in to their values on a conscious level, so they often find making decisions difficult, and then they are prone to living their lives according to the values of others. By being in-tune with your values, you’ll make decisions easier and overcome conflict because you’ll be driven by your purpose. Just follow one simple rule: Stay true to your values and base your decisions on what brings you closest to fulfilling them.

External Conflict

So what about conflicts we have with people? Well we need those, too. Every aspect of life is governed by conflict—it’s called having “problems.” We are problem-solvers, in essence. Show me a life with no problems, and I’ll show you a cadaver. Without problems, we would have nothing to work out and life would have no meaning. Think about how families, organizations and cities operate—governments and political systems as well—isn’t conflict what takes center stage every four years in America? Conflict builds civilizations, and the Wall Street Occupiers are simply one incarnation of this evolutionary principle in action.

Just as with internal conflict, growth would be virtually impossible without external problems for us to solve. These can prove tricky, however, because dealing with others can turn things into a game of wills, which can slow progress and increase stress. But as clichéd as it may sound, the best approach to external conflict is to look for win-win situations. This can only be accomplished by understanding both your and your adversary’s highest values, and then attempting to reach a center point. This is the most effective path to resolution, when both parties feel comfortable that their values are being met. At the very least, if a resolution is not reached, you can both walk away knowing why you failed to compromise—you are being true to your individual values, and you simply haven’t found a way to make them intersect—for now.

Remember that conflict is inevitable—whatever problem you don’t solve today you’ll get to readdress later in the same form or a different one entirely, internally or externally. Either way, it’s best to understand the true nature and purpose of conflict than to try to avoid it. Nature will not allow that anyway. So experiencing conflict may be unavoidable, but you can ease the discomfort by tuning-into your highest values, and then using them to guide you down your evolutionary path.

I’ve recently been asked about whether it’s best to be driven and act on one’s desires, or to just “go with the flow.” In my contemplations of this outstanding thought-question I have come to some realizations, both from investigating my own life, as well as being a student of other peoples’ lives through my work as a dream designer, and as an avid reader of biographies.

I love learning about peoples’ lives, and above all about human behavior. I especially love seeing the unique challenges every individual faces as they make their way through their destiny, and particularly how they overcome their perceived obstacles. One observation I have had is that we all go through repeating cycles of comfort-discomfort in any and all endeavors. These cycles then lead us to enter adjacent and interconnected push-relax cycles, necessary to expand us into the next level of our growth.

When we take on any new endeavor, whether we are simply at the starting point of conceptualization, or in full swing of acting on it, we must by necessity have a definition and goal of what we are attempting to achieve. Take, for instance, a new business: before anything is launched, a blueprint or map must be created, ‘the how’ to ‘the what’ of the entity…in other words, the means to the end.

But even before this stage, a purpose must be established—‘the why’ of the entire undertaking. Without a reason for existing—a void to be filled, a need to be attended to, or a problem to be solved—no business will get off the ground, let alone survive. Aristotle called these two aspects the final cause—the purpose for which a thing exists or is done, and the blueprint, or master plan, to doing it. Without these important factors, it is unlikely that any endeavor will successfully manifest.

So in every one of our endeavors—whether that be creating a business or starting a family—a final cause or purpose, and a planning stage, are necessary. Although these periods are usually filled with some knowns—like what we wish to create, and why; as well as some of the how’s—it is also filled with many unknowns, like how everything will play out. The details, in other words, remain a mystery.

During this stage, it is wholly appropriate to work hard, push, affect, influence, gather information, study, research, and so on. We would call this the ‘pushing’ phase, and it is clearly essential to get things moving. No action = no creation—it’s as simple as that. We have some control here, and it is wise to exert it. Very important is the need to plan, document, blue print and refine the plans, until even the most minute detail is accounted for. Anybody who has ever created anything can attest to the fact that planning, in detail, can save you from a heck of a lot of chaos in the future. Further, anybody who has ever failed to plan can attest to the disorder they soon find themselves in by skipping this important step. So my advice is to take control of this stage—the planning—and then push to get it off the ground.

Once your plan is in place, then letting go and letting it all unfold is the wisest thing to do. We can’t control every single detail, and why would we want to? Could you imagine how boring life would be if we could have command over how everything plays out in its entirety? No, this is a period of unknowing and discomfort, where details just unfold as they will. This is where we encounter the spice of life, the things that makes life interesting; the little curve balls that we don’t expect, and which lead us into areas of our greatest growth. I personally love it—most of my greatest adventures have come as a result of being open to these moments in the great unknown.

During this stage, you will probably find yourself in fight-or-flight, wondering what the heck you’ve gotten yourself into. You’ll question your abilities and what you thought you knew, but hang in there, because it’s usually where miracles happen. It’s highly imperative to be flexible in this phase—in other words, to just go with the flow—because trying to control too much here can make the challenge even worse; and really, you’ll only be holding yourself back, blocking your own success, and maybe even having a hard time learning the associated lessons (don’t worry, you’ll learn eventually anyway) if you push too hard. Further, even if it does all work out for you, the stress you cause by trying to control the uncontrollable will age you unnecessarily.

So, yes, going with the flow is important…but so is pushing. The reality is that an equal balance of the two will provide you with the greatest growth. So be diligent and plan ahead; work on your final cause before undertaking any endeavor. You will take care of all the things you can control that way, and anticipate a few of problems you will encounter along the way. But when it comes time for stepping back and getting flexible—then sway with the wind. You will keep your sanity that way, while very likely discovering some cool things you just hadn’t expected; and you’ll grow in character, too. Not a bad way to approach life in general: Planning…and then going with the flow.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Nick Campos - All Rights Reserved.