Why is it that others can evoke our passion, or spark our attraction, or incite us to rage? Just why do we seem so insistent in our reacting or in choosing our reaction?
Perhaps others reflect what we consciously resist, to some extent, yet also that which unconsciously resonates within us—at the polar extremes of our emotions.
Yet, we’re not so much the victim of our reactions. Negative others are not so much there to taunt us as they are there to reveal something about us that we ought to know about ourselves.
Other people are as mirrors before us. They are merely that—purposed as instruments for our learning.
‘Mirror, Mirror On The Wall’
There is much about life that resembles the fable, Snow White. The ways we instinctually respond reveals both our humanity, generally, and our personality, specifically.
We could ask the mirror ‘who is the fairest of them all’, but the truth is, we, like the wicked witch, will ask the mirrors within our lives such leading and rhetorical questions by our responses. Our responses are the mirror’s responses.
If we see someone as aggressive toward us, they may well be. But what is it that the aggressor reveals to us through our response—our timidity, our own aggression, or our ambivalence regarding their aggression? Our responses tell us, like the mirror, what our nature is like. This we should not deny. No one makes us respond.
How you treat me,
And how I find I react,
Both of these have meaning,
If I can see how my thinking’s backed.
Analysing Our Conflicts
If we, just for a few moments, can surmise that the people we have conflict with unintentionally draw out our worst sides, we have found two strong positives in dealing with that conflict.
Firstly, we might understand more about our instinctive responses and adjust accordingly. Secondly, whilst we’re thinking, we don’t react. The process of thinking halts us. The biggest problem we have in conflict is reacting. Reactions without thought push us quickly into the cavernous lands of regret.
We have much more to learn about our instances of conflict than we do about our harmonious relationships. The harmonious relationships we can enjoy. Those we have conflict with we are bound to learn more from, even if only by our response, and the thoughts and feelings we experience.
The people we’re quickly into conflict with are not there to taunt us, but to teach us—if we’ll observe about ourselves our responses. This will reveal the things we don’t like about ourselves. When we begin to enquire—‘why’—we not only learn to get on better, but we learn to resolve the things within us that we cannot stand.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.