Practice, Perseverance, and Hope: Consistent effort yields results.

June 15, 2023

Perseverence: The hill is not always this steep

We share a lot of tips and tricks for dealing with conflict on this blog. Based on decades of experience working in the field, we know they are tried and true – but it might be a little daunting for the uninitiated. When these concepts are new, a typical response might be: "Easier said than done."

And that wouldn’t be wrong! It is undoubtedly difficult to learn new habits – yet let the mere fact that you found your way to reading this be an encouragement that you’re ready to start. Because when we are struggling, we are more likely to open up to trying something new. In this case, starting work around conflict that will pay off in relational dividends throughout the rest of our lives.

Neuroscience tells us that you teach an old dog new tricks (no we’re not calling you a dog, but yes we’re talking about you). And as with most things, it gets easier with practice.

What comes to mind when you hear the word practice?

Often our thoughts drift back to memories of formative years of play – chasing whatever ball, puck, or cute teenager caught our eye at the community centre. Were any of us born natural prodigies at any one of these? Not likely.

With the hindsight and perspective of an adult looking on from the stands watching a group of kids haphazardly chase the sports ball or lover that catches their eye…well, it is obvious there is some room for improvement.

And we do improve! That is, with practice. And practice can only happen if we go through the awkward beginning phase. At first, it takes a lot of conscious thought to muddle through even the basics – left-foot then right-foot, or perhaps mustering up a squeaky hello. But after some consistent and persistent trying, what once took a lot of effort sinks into our bones and becomes natural. The burgeoning sports player rises out of the little leagues, and the budding romantic moves on to deeper relationships.

What if we could bring this concept of practice to learning how to deal with life’s unavoidable conflicts? Sure we may not be great at it to start, but we can certainly get better over time. And with some humility, we can mitigate any of the inevitable fumbles we make along the way.

Store clerk saying to customer: Sorry, we're out of undo buttons. Can I interest you in a try again button instead?

What might get us started in learning how to better deal with conflict? Usually, it’s when we are mired in struggle. A divisive situation rears its ugly head in our personal lives – troubles with a neighbour, partner, or coworker, for example – and we find ourselves in a position where we’ve tried everything and are still stuck. Seeking a path forward, we cast our gaze outwards – and that’s where organizations like Mediation Services exist to resource you with learning and mediation.

Still, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to relationships. As much as we might wish for clarity, each situation is unique and our relationships are doubly so. But guidelines, such as the ones we post about here, can serve as a process for dealing with uncomfortable situations openly and with agility.

With careful action, we can find freedom in the complexity – that is, if we can let go of expectation. But that’s an especially hard thing to do when it is our longing for change that prompted action in the first place.

Hope is a driving force, but it’s important to remember that the desired outcome behind it is never guaranteed. While we can point ourselves in a certain direction, the complexities involved go beyond our individuality and much cannot be controlled (like, for instance, the person we’re in conflict with). Holding on to a hopeful expectation too tightly can lead to disappointment – even if the middle ground we land on is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

The reality is that when conflict arises, the only path forward is through it. There is no undo button – instead a claiming of responsibility for our actions and subsequently the actions that come next.

While holding on to hope, we also need to loosen our grip on what its final goal might look like. Even when we’re not a beginner anymore, it’s important to remember we are never an expert that is perfect / unwavering / all-knowing either.

Hope is a way of moving through the world with agility. Held softly, it allows us to meet both the highs and lows with a little more grace, forgiveness, and resilience.

Mediation Services is here to support you in your relationship (or relationships) with conflict. Online and in-person learning opportunities are continuously available, and with them our hope is to resource you for that which you face.

If you find yourself in need of deeper support for your relational divides, please get in touch to embrace the assistance of a third-party mediator: fill out an intake form or simply start a conversation about options by sending us a message via our contact form.

Whatever your next steps, remember to frame your best efforts within the iterative structure of practice. Be soft with yourself in the process of figuring it out – and don’t give up.

If you have questions,
please don’t hesitate to call.


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