Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Face of Fear ...

Today in the course I'm enrolled in in Winnipeg we were discussing trying to coach people through conflict, and what you say, do and act when you are posited between two "warring" factions and seeking a peaceful solution ...

There was conversation in class and outside about the forms conflict take in our lives - interpersonal conflict in homes, at work and in just about any setting where human beings are to be found ... One of the points raised was how, in the heat of the moment, people begin to react impulsively and the argument intensifies rather than resolves ...

I reflected on conflicts where common sense and calm are non-existent. I thought about encounters I've had in my life where those I am in conflict with cease to act in what can be regarded as sane and rational ... their anger gets the better of them. There have been moments when I have failed to act in sane and rational ways ... But as I considered this, and the effect such irrationality has not only on the conflict, but on the people who are touched and contacted by this conflict, I thought about our old female cat Chloe (the calicoe above).

Back when we lived in Bella Coola and Chloe was a couple of years old she was mauled in the backyard by a dog that had gotten inside the fence. While he didn't really do much damage to her physically, by the time I got him outside of the fence and went to rescue Chloe and carry her inside she was over the moon ... I reached out to pick her up - a gesture I had done a hundred or more times - a gesture I have done a thousand times since ...

BUT, in that moment Chloe attacked my arm and tore my hand, wrist and lower arm to shreds ... she was literally a WILD CAT ... her fear had taken over and she not only bit the hand that feeds her - she tore into it at a frenzied level!!

In that moment Chloe was acting entirely on some deep hidden instinct ... she was reacting from primeval fear ...

It occurred to me this afternoon that often people react in the same way - their reptilian brain takes over and they move to a place of screaming and attacking both verbally and physically when they feel threatened ... it is something that happens over ad over ... it happens in personal relationships ... it happens in the work place ... it happens almost everywhere humanity bumps into each other ...

The challenge for us is to move to a place where we are able to keep our impulses in check and keep the little conflicts little ... Unfortunately fear too often prevents that from simply happening ... instead fear kicks in, and like our dear old matriarch cat Chloe, we end up flailing at those around us, hurting them, innocent by bystanders and even ourselves ... when in truth what we are trying to run away from is what lurks deep within us ...

Maybe one day we'll begin to figure this out ... hopefully before it was too late ...

2 comments:

shauna said...

While I agree with this post completely, I've been dealing with a different struggle. Anger can be a good thing, a signal that something isn't right. Your metal is tested in the way you respond to that anger. Too often in my life I've conceded when it hasn't been right or in my best interests simply because I was afraid of another's anger or disappointment. I'm trying to learn how to stand up for myself, even if it causes conflict or provokes another. I'm only responsible for my response, not someone else's. Does that even make sense?

MY OWN WOMAN... said...

Gutteral instincts. They make me shiver.