Desire connection over conflict
There are some individuals – I am sure we can all name a few – who are in the habit of confrontation, anger and conflict.
Are you one of them?
When we are operating from our highest selves, and we are mentally healthy, we actually avoid conflict. It is the opposite of what we desire as humans. What we really desire is connection, understanding, feeling heard, and being loved.
Defence is the first act of war
Byron Katie teaches that it takes two people to have a fight and that defence is the first act of war. If someone is super upset with you, yet you are at peace, there is not a fight. So how do you create peace within? It is a feeling, and like all feelings, it is created by your thoughts. Whatever your ex is saying or doing, you can be deliberate about what you want to think about it so that you can avoid conflict.
How do you find peace when your ex is antagonizing you? When you are getting barraged with criticism from your ex? Easy. You think peaceful thoughts or thoughts that don’t generate stress. Here are a few to try on:
- what else would you expect?
- what s/he says is all about him/her
- it’s ok for people to be wrong about me
- his/her opinion is not a problem for me
- they get to believe what they want
- it’s not my job to make him/her happy
Opt-out of the drama
This is a skill set that comes with practice. If you were in a long-term abusive relationship, you have spent a lot of time opting-in to the drama by focusing on your partner and making him/her happy. Opting out of the drama means focusing most on what you are thinking, feeling, and doing and least on what everyone else is thinking, feeling, and doing. It takes intentionality to stay in your lane and out of everyone else’s lane.
Your brain will want to think: If I could get him to stop saying those things about me….it would clear up the drama. The truth is, the drama is not being created by his words. It is being created in your head by what you are making his words mean. That part is optional.
Here is how you opt-out of it. You decide it is perfectly fine for people to say silly things about you. Everyone is entitled to their opinion (as f*cked up as it may be). You can think s/he is just a human being who is feeling threatened or insecure. You can believe that their behaviour comes from a lot of pain.
Drop your Manual
A manual is the silent instruction guide you have for how your ex is supposed to behave. The problem is, you have no control over the things that other people do and say – especially your ex. Every time your ex says or does something you think s/he should not – think again. That is exactly what s/he should be doing because that is what they have always done. Make peace with it. That doesn’t mean you condone the ridiculous behaviour. It just means you drop the desire to control it. Instead, focus on controlling your reaction to the behaviour. Did you know you could find it boring or even amusing? You don’t need to be shocked. You don’t need to give it oxygen.
Drop the rope
I see a lot of people in a tug-of-war with their partner over every issue involving the kids. One of the most powerful things you can do is drop the rope. Disengage from the fight. Stop telling yourself that your ex always wins. The win is depriving your ex of drama and conflict. Your ex loves the fight, and by dropping the rope, you win and you avoid conflict.
This is an ideal technique when your ex accuses or criticizes you. Rather than get defensive and try to change their opinion, you can just disengage by dropping the rope. You can say: “your opinion is noted” and walk away from the conflict. There is so much power in dropping the rope.
Practice makes perfect
Use these techniques to stay calm when your ex is upset. It is so empowering. Once you get a taste of this practice, and learn that you are in control of your own feelings, regardless of what your ex says and does, you will show up as calm-confident in the face of a storm. No longer defensive, angry or frustrated. This will keep you in the driver’s seat and your kids will be much happier passengers.