Begin by drawing a circle.
Outside of the circle, begin a list of everything you don’t like, that irks you, that spins you out or floods you emotionally; everything that is contrary to your tastes, preferences, temperament, beliefs, principles; everything that stresses you out, makes you anxious and or afraid, everything that pushes your buttons.
These are the things that will cause you conflict.
What remains—your likes, preferences, talents, abilities, things you handle well—goes inside the circle.
And what remains is basically your comfort zone.
So why is peace so difficult? Because for almost all of us, our comfort zones are much smaller than our discomfort zones. In other words, our comfort zones are too small to permit much peace. We are surrounded by things that make us uncomfortable, that threaten us, that stress us out, that make us feel inferior, that threaten to overwhelm us, that might harm us, that might change us in ways we don’t want to be changed, that might subject us to stuff that’s not in our best interest of being subject to.
And our comfort zone & and our discomfort zone—i.e., the rest of life, the larger world around us—are separated by some fairly substantial walls–
Fairly well defended walls—fairly impermeable membranes, like certain types of cellular walls.
Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to deal well with conflict–which often means dealing with conflict squarely, rather than avoiding it. And one of the best ways to deal with conflict is through dialogue—one that increases mutual understanding, one that promotes thinking, reflecting, and seeing the other person’s point of view.
And this is why there will never be peace.
There will never be peace until more and more of us learn better and better how to speak intelligently about difficult and touchy subjects—and to value having these difficult conversations and thinking about difficult subjects, instead of avoiding them. There will never be peace until more and more of us learn how to deal with conflict instead of avoiding it—and to value dealing with conflict more than avoiding it. To become better at dealing with conflict we need to become skilled at doing six things. Listening well. Thinking clearly & honestly. Seeing both sides more objectively & neutrally. Being articulate. Becoming less enamored with the path of most ease and least resistance. Accepting and dealing with criticism fairly and legitimately—i.e., using our intellect & reason much more than our emotions & ego.
“There is a great deal of pain in life, and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain.” – R. D. Laing
“The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.” – Thomas Merton, “The Seven Storey Mountain”
There are two types of criticism we should always seek and be willing to listen to and reflect on if we truly want to grow and become better people. 1. Criticism of our principles and what we stand for, i.e., our personal life philosophy (and that includes our standards). 2. Criticism of how well our actions match up with our principles / life philosophy. Criticism, if met directly, leads to thinking, self-examination, reflection, and then to debate and discussion.* If we are not open to challenge / criticism / debating our personal life philosophies and how well our actions match up with our claimed deepest principles, then we are not really interested in growing and deepening. Growth-oriented people seek challenge and deal with criticism differently than people who are driven by their emotions and egos—people who largely want to receive, be comfortable, have fun, et cetera.
Criticism is a form of feedback, often of correction, and equally if not more so as often of disapproval. When we are criticized, something we have done or said is not being approved of or accepted (or “validated”). And the criticism is offering us another point of view or perspective.
(* And not the other way around. For a discussion/conversation/debate to be fruitful, much thinking and reflection and self-examination must take place between point & counterpoint, between stimulus and response, between stimulus [what the other person says] and [our] response. Otherwise a discussion will likely quickly devolve into a reactive conversation—i.e., an argument. The common marital complaint about “poor communication” is really just a symptom of, among several things, the consistent repeated lack of reflection & self-examination on the part of one person or both people in the couple.)
. Related articles:
The Comfort Zone (fullcatastropheliving.wordpress.com)
The Comfort Zone (courageandchoice.wordpress.com)
Love, Impermanence, Uncertainty, Fear: Which One Wins? (fullcatastropheliving.wordpress.com)
Additional (Possibly) Related Articles:
- Ditching Your Comfort Zone Once And For All. (longhairdontcare20.wordpress.com)
- Outside the comfort zone (dailypurch.wordpress.com)
- Ten Reasons to Stop Avoiding Conflict and Start Dealing With Issues (lmerlobooth.typepad.com)
- Comfort Zone Isn’t Comfortable (fadisema.wordpress.com)
- The End of Your Comfort Zone (freespiritsunited.com)
- Getting out of your comfort zone (meepolife.wordpress.com)
- The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should) (lifehacker.com)
- Step Out of Your Comfort Zone (marvinscorridor.com)
- Your Not So Comfortable Comfort Zone (inspiredwomenus.wordpress.com)