These 3 steps to resolving the conflicts in your life have the power to deepen all of your intimate relationships, including your relationship with yourself. Each of these three steps leads to a deeper state of authenticity; to a gentle, skillful “overthrow” of the inner and outer voices which hold us back from deeper love.
If you’re experiencing conflicts of any sort, there’s a three-step process that will get you through that conflict and take you out to the other side with a much greater sense of self-love, knowledge, and connectedness. Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn this wonderful technique.
Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page, and I’m a psychotherapist and a coach and the author of the bestselling book, Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy. I’m excited about our podcast today because I’m going to be talking about a three-step process to resolve conflict with other people or within yourself.
Every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process, because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love and the skills of love, including self-love are the greatest skills of all for a happy life.
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This is a wonderful process to resolve conflict through deeper self-honoring, and honoring of others as well. So many of us struggle on different levels with intimacy and learning this simple skill is one of the greatest gifts that we can give ourselves and give those we love.
This technique that I’m going to teach is designed to deepen all of your intimate relationships, including your relationship with yourself. Every one of its three steps will lead you to greater authenticity and victory over the inner and outer voices that hold you back from deeper love. The process is called the AHA process and it’s an acronym that will help you remember each step, A, H, and A.
Resolving the Conflicts Lead to Greater Authenticity
The first step is A, authenticity and in this step you’re going to notice what you’re feeling and you’re just going to appreciate it and honor the humanity of your feelings, whatever they are, without trying to fix them or correct them.
It’s an image that I use of holding our feelings with cupped hands, or the feelings of others with cupped hands. Cupped hands don’t squeeze and grab and try to change and push and force. And they’re also not just flat and unfeeling hands just holding something.
Cupped hands cradle something. There’s a sense of giving it space, and if you want to do that you just could make this cup with your hands and imagine holding a feeling, a person’s heart and emotion with cupped hands. There’s a kind of cradling quality, there’s a treasure and quality, but it allows room to breathe as well.
That’s an image for this first step in how we just recognize what we’re feeling and make room for it. So, you may just get a little bit of a feeling, you may not get any feeling yet, but if you do get a feeling just try to find some words that capture it. Some words that you could just put words on that feeling.
It may take a while for the words to form, but just allow that time and maybe the feeling will express itself as a memory or maybe a piece of art, or music, or an image, or a smell, or a color. Whatever experience, whatever expression, captures your experience, just hold that.
The Awkward Stage of Resolving the Conflicts
And by doing that, you will have already created a degree of compassion for yourself and you’ll be able to find your way into the deeper meaning of whatever it is you’re experiencing. This stage might feel awkward or weird or uncomfortable and you might think, “I don’t want to do this now, it’s just too uncomfortable.” Or, “I don’t have time.” Or, “It’s too much work.” So you can expect a bit of inner resistance because it is work and it does take time and it is a little uncomfortable.
And that inner resistance will kind of try to keep you from the challenge ahead but every time you get through that, you’ll come out on the other side and make more room for the humanity of your feelings, which is only a good thing. It’s actually a tiny act of personal greatness to take that brave step, and it’s, of course, a step toward richer self-understanding.
Here’s a story. Here’s just an example story of somebody doing this process, doing step one, authenticity. Sharon, after years of hard work got her dream job and it was a high-level position in a very prestigious accounting firm. And now that she had reached her goal, she somehow found that she was kind of losing her ambition.
She was coming in late even and sometimes making errors that she never should have made and she was furious at herself and just also completely bewildered. So she tried the AHA process and she began by allowing her feelings instead of judging them.
The Second Step in Resolving the Conflicts
In so doing she began to realize that she had been consistently unhappy in her job, but she never allowed herself to accept that reality because it just didn’t fit with all of her goals that she had been following for so many years.
Her work environment, she realized, was kind of hostile and it was competitive and it was a complete change from her last job, and it was depressing. Until now, she hadn’t really let herself face how much she didn’t like this new job. The second stage is the step of honoring.
This is the step that we’re most likely to overlook because few of us have been taught to do it. But it’s the antidote to our bewilderment and it is the path to our own unique wisdom. How do we do this? How do we become capable of honoring our authentic experience, especially when we’re feeling judgmental toward it or ashamed of what we’re feeling?
The way to do it is to validate the worth of our feelings and the reality and the substance of our feelings, even if that feeling seems irrational or counterproductive, or self-sabotaging, or awkward. When we believe that we’re not supposed to feel a way that we do feel, our first reaction is usually a kind of reflexive act of self-correction that leaves our deep insides cringing against our own self-critique.
What do you do if that’s happening to you? You’re trying to honor your authentic feelings, but you’re not liking them. You’re not proud of them, they don’t feel good, they don’t make sense, they seem self-sabotaging.
Resolving the Conflicts by Honoring Our Feelings
Well, I’m going to offer you three questions which will help you learn how to validate your emotional experience. So if you want, you could even pause the recording and think about a kind of inner conflict, something going on that you don’t like and don’t feel good about in your own life with someone else.
Just pick one thing if you like, if you’d like to kind of walk through this with me and allow yourself first to just authentically feel the feeling. Now we’re going to practice honoring those feelings by answering these three questions.
These questions will, as I said, help you validate the wisdom, the intelligence, and the need behind whatever it is that you’re feeling or whatever it is you’re acting. I think a good image is the image of a tree trying to grow around rocks. The way the tree grows, its got a goal and the goal is to reach for the sun, reach toward the sun, which is a beautiful goal.
But if you look at the shape of the tree, it might be gnarled, it might be twisted because it’s had to do all of this work to reach for the sun when it’s been blocked. We see our behaviors and it’s easy to think, “Oh, that’s weird,” or, “That’s funny,” or, “I don’t like what I did.” Or, “I don’t like how I’m feeling or how I’m acting.”
Resolving the Conflicts Based From What We Were Taught
But when we realize that those feelings were us reaching toward something that mattered, and that’s how we had to shape ourselves to do it, it kind of helps us see the heart of the matter, which is what it is that matters, so that we can find a better way to get to it. These are the three questions and I’d like you to try asking these of yourself and see if any of them hit.
One, it makes sense that I feel this way because – try that one on, you can pause this. Here’s another one, “These feelings are connected to my deeper self in this way….” You can pause it again and think about this and each of these is going to give you so much of a richer level of self-understanding.
Next, “This conflict touches a really important value of mine because….”, and you can pause again, fill in the blank. And you can see when you do that, that you begin to understand that what you were doing or feeling makes way more sense than you might have realized, that’s the stage of honoring.
But always we’re taught, “No, think about the other person’s need first. Forgive the other person first. Try to think better or more maturely or more realistically, or in a broader way.” But that doesn’t really work because we cannot amputate our feelings. We can honor them and we can grow them and we can educate them, but amputating or suppressing them just doesn’t work. These techniques will help you discover the wisdom in what it was that you were feeling or doing.
An Act of Quiet Violence
It’s challenging, but really the act of honoring is the most comforting path of all. It lets us express our deepest core gifts and it allows us to kind of relinquish the whip that we hold against ourselves.
Honoring asks kindness of us, and this is a deep thing.
Anything other than honoring is an act of quiet violence against our being. None of us can dishonor our inner self or feelings without repercussions. Now, if the conflict you’re experiencing is with someone else, you can follow this step in your own mind for the other person and honor what it is that they’re going through.
First imagine what they might be going through, what it seems like they’re going through, and do the same process to honor, even though they’re behaving irrationally. There is a part of their soul locked in here. There’s a way that they’re reaching for the sun and maybe not in the best way, so you’re going to do this same honoring process for them.
It’s not going to make you accept behavior that’s unacceptable. It’s not going to have you not feel what you feel, but it’s going to honor them, which is always a good thing as long as you’re honoring yourself as well. And you may only be able to guess what the person’s feeling or what their motivation is, but the practice of honoring it really often just creates breakthroughs in our understanding.
If you try it, you’ll see that that happens. You could even pause right now and try it or just remember for a future time. So, back to Sharon.
The Key Point When It Comes to Resolving the Conflicts
Sharon had this realization, but she was troubled by it because she had worked so hard to achieve her professional goals and now she was questioning whether she was actually cut out for the job that she had thought she wanted so much. But by asking herself those questions that we just went through, she realized something really important which she had never admitted to herself.
And this is a really key point and in my intensives and in my work with clients, again and again, similar moments to the one I’m going to describe happen for people and they’re life-changing. She had never really admitted to herself, this, that she was profoundly, profoundly sensitive to her social environments and she was happier and way more productive when she was in a positive environment, I guess as all of us are.
But in a negative social environment it really got to her and she became really prone to depression and self-sabotage. She had always seen it as a weakness and she tried to fight against her sensitivity and be someone else and get through it and push through it, but it never worked. Now, she was understanding it in an honoring way that this was a deep and profound sensitivity.
It was her DNA, it was who she is. She was not happy in critical, hostile environments and she’s not someone who could let it roll off her back and that is a gift, she realized. She was really challenged by that insight, but she was relieved because she was understanding. It was like she had her user’s manual.
The Scariest Step in Resolving the Conflicts
She knew why things weren’t working before and why they were working before. Step three, action. In this stage, what you do is you hold your inner self or you hold the other person with honor and then you act in whatever way feels wise and true and helpful once you’ve done the first two steps. And that action step can be really hard, and there’s that great quote from Maggie Kuhn, who is the founder of the Gray Panthers,
“Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”
This might be the scariest step of all, but if you’ve already done the other steps, you’ll have created an inner push towards supporting yourself. When we take authentic action, our ability to find love and follow love and grow love is increased and our authentic self becomes more fully formed.
We feel vulnerable, but we feel essentially worthy. And without that capacity to honor ourselves and take action on our feelings, our unconscious mind will protect us from love because it knows that we would either harm others with our anger, or harm ourselves by succumbing to other people’s needs and demands.
When we know how to honor ourselves, our unconscious will open up and reveal our deepest gifts because it’s trusting us. So every time you practice this process, the part of you that can love and love yourself is strengthened and the more you do the process, the richer your life and your interactions with the world will become.
Back to Sharon. She was kind of stunned by this realization and she decided she was going to try to see if she could improve her experience on the job, but also start exploring other job possibilities.
Fighting Against Innate Sensitivity
Instead of fighting against her innate sensitivity now she wanted to honor it. She realized that her sensitivity to social environments actually applied to all her relationships. And that she sabotaged herself every time she tried to suppress or dishonor her sensitivity.
She began to see her need for positive environments and positive connection as a gift, as a core gift, and her pain when environments or connections weren’t safe also as a core gift instead of a weakness, which was a very new way to look at her life and her future. One of the most powerful ways that we can create closeness in any relationship is by practicing this technique.
And really one of the greatest aphrodisiacs is the feeling that you and your partner celebrate each other’s gifts and hold each other’s wounds with compassion. Practicing these steps with a loved one is going to deepen the bond between the two of you, as well as your own capacity to live in the world and to love in this world.
So try this technique and I think that you’ll find your compassion to yourself and other people increases in surprising and wonderful ways. Thank you so much for listening.
If you like what you heard, I want to encourage you to go to deeperdatingpodcast.com and join my mailing list for a host of free resources and information about so many different programs that I run or that people I respect run. Thank you so much for that, and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.
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