There are many reasons for any of us to feel conflict lately. Political conflict is inescapable. Civil unrest is outside and in our hearts. And COVID conflicts are everywhere we are, whether it’s with a mask in our community or in the home among people we’re stuck with for the foreseeable future. Now, there’s voter intimidation right here in the Denver area. How can we feel peaceful at all?
So, you might ask, “Where’s the good news, Linda?” How can we make it another month (or longer) with all this conflict around or within us?
Well, first of all, VOTE! Do not allow any fear you may feel to forgo your precious right to vote. No matter where you lie on issues or candidates, almost everyone is claiming this is one of the most important elections of our lifetime. Even in our own area, races have been won by only a few votes historically. Every vote really does count. (Believe me.) If you need support to do so, you can ask a trusted neighbor to help, or you can go to www.vote.org, or you can call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-687-8683.
Secondly, it’s Conflict Resolution Month in Colorado, so here are some tools and tips we can all take advantage of now and in the future. A few reminders for this particular time are:
Choose your battles when you can. As long as we’re stuck in close quarters with the same people every day, let the little things go. By not letting the small things get to us, we can remember what really matters; the love, health and safety of our family and community.
With all the political ads and pundits on air right now, try taking some time away from the television or computer for the next few weeks. Pick up a relaxing book, hobby, or walk outside while the weather still permits. It’s amazing how much more peace we can feel with just a short break from it all.
Moments of peace can evolve when we notice what we can and cannot control and begin understanding that. In knowing what we can control, remember all the choices you DO have. More peace is possible with more listening and less talking; more empathy and less judgment; and responding with grace rather than reacting in anger. When in conversation, particularly when it starts to get heated, listen with curiosity; asking questions to find what’s really going on with the other person rather than guessing or making assumptions.
These are only a few ideas, and none of these work themselves. We have to work with them and practice them, every day. None of us are complete experts in preventing conflict. But the rewards of feeling more peace in our lives, especially at this fragile time, is well worth the practice. For more ideas on how to manage or transform conflict in your life, you can go to: conflictresolutionmonth.org or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former Colorado state senator, now with a master’s in Social Justice and Ethics from Iliff School of Theology, Linda Newell is a writer, speaker, facilitator, and conflict consultant. Senlindanewell@gmail.com, www.lindanewell.org, www.senlindanewell.com, @sennewell on Twitter, Senator Linda Newell or @TheLastBill on Facebook.
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