Are You Content with Conflict?

I’ve been so darned content over the last few days. Where’s my muse? What to write about when one is so contented?

No worries. Just taking a little respite. Life is still offering plenty of challenges.

But this contentment has got me to thinking.

How do you feel about conflict? Do you try to avoid it at all costs? Do you see it as part of the challenge of life?

Do you find that it’s easier to argue for something or against something?

How is your life focused? Are you trying to overcome obstacles ? Or. To achieve goals?

Who are the antagonists in your life? Do you approach them as enemies or challenges?

What tools do you use when confronting a conflict? Do you have any? Only a hammer?

Am I thinking out loud tonight? A little bit. For sure. While in this state of contentment.

In her blog, Kristin Lamb wrote an awesome post on Understanding the Antagonist, which expounds on how the antagonist is the key ingredient to dramatic tension.

Conflict is the core ingredient to fiction, even literary fiction. Conflict in any novel can have many faces and often you will hear this referred to as the antagonist. The antagonist is absolutely essential for fiction. He/she/it is the engine of your story. No engine, and no forward momentum. Like cars, plots need momentum or they are dead.

The antagonist provides the energy to move the story forward. Antagonists generate genuine drama.

And so.

If there is no conflict there is no story. Isn’t that something. Doesn’t this then circle back to the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths:

  1. Life is difficult. We are always challenged.
  2. You don’t need to be pleased to be content.
  3. Peace is possible.
  4. We need to train the mind to accommodate life as it happens.

And so again.

If there is no conflict there is no life. Isn’t that something. It’s all about how we deal with conflict. And too. It’s ok to be content. There’s still a story to be had. Because there will always be an antagonist lurking somewhere.

The Heart of Innovation is Conflict

The Carrot Seed provides me a tiny little forum to nudge the boundaries of our actions and thoughts and words and intentions and expectations. Toward kindness. Toward peace.

And so. I find myself in a bit of an awkward situation because through this nudging I have caused a conflict.

And if feels uncomfortable. Terribly clumsy. To be avoided at all costs. I’ve been taught all my life that conflict is bad.

But is it?

Ari Wallach, the founder of Synthesis says,

“There is a false premise that innovation is about ideas. But ideas are actually relatively simple to come up with. True innovation is about culture and execution. The heart of innovation is conflict – you are challenging the status quo.”

The heart of innovation is conflict.

For me, that has meant being kinder to myself and thereby somehow seeming less kind nice to others.  I was such an easy target for “unkindness” because I have always felt like I should put other people’s needs before mine. Always trying to avoid conflict by absorbing the blows (including the “unintentional” ones.) Or by allowing myself to be subjugated by always attempting to be “nice.”

Here’s what I’ve learned. When you are mean to yourself, others think that they can be mean to you too.

By finally understanding that this was serving no one, I abruptly put a stop to it. And have given notice (whether directly or indirectly) to those around me to do the same. There have been a few casualties. Thus the conflict.

I am learning that to be genuinely kind, to be authentic, to act without resentment we need to have the utmost compassion for ourselves first. Without compassion for ourselves, our motives become impure. If we mistreat ourselves and allow others to do so as well, we are being kind to no one.

Kind of crazy.

Without conflict there is no innovation. There is no growth. While it seems counterintuitive, in today’s world, in order to foster kindness we will need to overcome any number of difficulties and conflicts. Isn’t that true innovation. Create conflict for peace.