Transforming Conflict: A wiser processTuesday, February 18, 2014
When we talk of being in Conflict it is most often seen as a highly negative aspect of human relationships. Conflict can be upsetting and even violent. Sometimes the narratives within conflict seem almost impossibly stuck. In most cases conflict comes from and results in feeling separate, alone and blind to the needs of others, often resulting in blame of ‘the other’.
It is fair to say that conflict is part of the human condition, so it deserves our focused attention. At Encounters, particularly though our work with Combatants for Peace, we have been engaged in an enquiry around conflict and at its core are two questions:
What is my own relationship with conflict?
How can I get more skilled at recognising my own triggers and then cope with the conflicts that arise in my life?
So we have come up with an approach which we think can provide a safe platform to explore these questions and help us feel more connected to the realities of conflict, and less separate from each other. It’s a cyclic approach to managing an experience. It can help us to tell new and authentic stories, when the old narratives of conflict are stuck and no longer serve our core intentions and purposes.
A creative opportunity
As you share and explore the stories that lay within conflict you can transform these difficult areas into opportunities for change. This is a creative process, one that is truly embodied and can be deeply transformative. This is different to many other approaches to conflict which propose a fixed solution. What we have been exploring for many years is a more realistic and personally sustainable approach to managing conflict. The result is an engaged and empowering way to address the multiple ways that conflict exists and is played out in our lives.
A cyclic process
Following the cycle above we can begin to recognise our own role within conflict and how every manifestation of conflict that we experience outside of ourselves is essentially a mirror, there to teach us something important. The cycle will help us to be more alert, to engage in a process of listening, reflecting and acting to repair and transform conflict. Conflict is a natural condition, our essential shadow, if you like. This process allows us to become more comfortable with uncertainty and other difficult edges.
An active process
Several different learning and creative techniques are rooted in this process. The beauty is in the way that it allows everyone to participate, with a huge variety of differing experiences of conflict. Our work with Combatants for Peace has shown the impact of this process within Israel and Palestine. The technique is also used as intimately and effectively with young people exploring their identity, anger and aspirations in rural Devon.
“We can all make a choice in transforming our/the story- we can participate in telling a new story to live by. If we choose to, then it is within our power to do so.” Reflecting on workshops held autumn 2013 in Israel and Palestine.
Ben Yeger has been working with conflict for many years and has developed this strand of work within Encounters Arts. As part of his ongoing work he is the UK representative of Combatants for Peace. For more about Ben and his story watch his TedTalk.