art work by John Ceprano
CINERGY (tm) - Peacebuilding... one person at a time


A meme with this saying on it came up one day on my Instagram feed and I was struck by my reaction to how this message was conveyed – so vividly. It isn’t a new message to those of us who work in the field of conflict management and other disciplines who work with people in emotional pain about the internal and external conflicts they bring to us that have their roots from childhood experiences. And it won’t be a new message to those who have experienced traumas in their personal or professional lives.  And it won’t be a new message to those of us who reflect on repeated behaviours that do not serve us well ourselves, and we realize we are repeating unhealthy patterns that have become part of how we cope with conflict.

It is common for many of us to carry around unresolved hurts from broken family or personal and professional  relationships, childhood or adult trauma, unreconciled issues from our upbringing and so on, if we have not had help to do the work of healing. The experiences that stay with us – that we continue to hold onto and play out – are ones that show up in a range of ways that can be destructive and impede our ability to maintain healthy relationships with some people. We may react to and treat these people from this negative frame of reference though the same dynamics do not necessarily apply.

To do the work properly it usually requires psychotherapeutic interventions. And by seeking help we are better able to gain perspective and find ways to move forward without repeating the same patterns. One of those patterns may be to find fault with the person in front of us in certain situations when in fact, the challenges we are facing stem from past relationships and experiences that remain unresolved, unhealed, painful.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog focuses on an interpersonal dispute in which you are or have engaged – one in which you think or know your reaction was not specific to the other person and the dynamic between you. Rather, your way of defending yourself and reacting reflected old wounds that remain unhealed. To do so I suggest you bring to mind a recent interpersonal dispute in which you know you bled on the person who didn’t cut you. NOTE: This blog and its questions are not a psychotherapeutic intervention by any means. It is a way to develop some insights you may not already have.

  • What is the recent interpersonal dispute about?
  • In what ways did this situation raise old issues for you?
  • What specifically are those issues (if you didn’t name them in response to the above question)?
  • In what ways did you bleed on the other person that is related to the old wound? How did the person respond?
  • How did past unresolved thoughts about the person in your old situation impact how you thought about the person in the more current dispute?
  • What unresolved feelings about the other person also leaked into this more current dispute as to how you perceive the other person?
  • What behaviours, reactions etc. do you know, with some confidence, that you are repeating?
  • What don’t you understand as yet about how and why you are repeating a pattern that doesn’t work for you? What do you understand with some certainty about the repeated pattern?
  • What do you think needs to be healed?
  • How will you go about the healing process?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have now that you didn’t have before you answered these questions?

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