photo courtesy of psychologytoday.com
A dreamer had a dream that involved a conflict between her lighthearted self and a more serious side of her. She was baffled about how to resolve her inner clash. (Scroll down to my last posts and you can follow our discussion.)
Resolving internal conflicts
Yesterday, I suggested that internal conflicts are resolved by working toward inner wholeness. As an example, I offered my own internal conflict as a young man. In my profession I am often obliged to sit and work meticulously on details that take a long time. I am well-suited to this kind of work, but there is a part of my personality that becomes impatient and irritable when obliged to concentrate for long stretches on the same tedious task. The conflict between these two facets of my personality was having a negative impact on my work. I needed to find a way to reconcile their differences. I did this by initiating a "dialogue" with myself. It went something like this:
I asked each part of me to acknowledge something good about its rival. The plodder in me acknowledged that its nemesis was a visionary. "You have great ideas and a much broader perspective than me." Yes," says the feisty one, "but you can do exquisite work when given enough time, and I don't have that patience."
"So," I wanted to know, "is there a way that you two can accommodate each other without going into conflict?"
That was simple. The plodder in me would work at some task, and the impatient part of me agreed to leave it alone. But occasionally, the plodder would look at what it had accomplished and be only partially satisfied with the end result. It needed the visionary part of me to come up with a better idea. So it handed the problem to this more unsettled seeker in me--the part of me that was always looking to the horizon for something new and different. Inevitably, there would be a new plan, and since the visionary didn't have the patience to bring the plan to fruition, it was delighted to hand it back to the plodder to see its vision realized.
This probably sounds sophomoric and silly. But something like what I have described needs to take place whenever there is an internal conflict. In the case of the dreamer who had a lighthearted and a serious side that were squabbling with each other, they too needed to see that each part had validity and that neither one had a right to monopolize the dreamer's consciousness. As an example, if the dreamer stopped at a red light in traffic, it was not OK to let her lighthearted, zany self be in control. It was important to be serious and obey the laws in order to avoid a mishap. But while she was sitting there waiting for the light to change, why not entertain herself with lighthearted thoughts? Or more generally, why not use the serious side of herself to create a safe environment so that the lighthearted part of her could express itself unencumbered?