Part 2: "Your Circle". Conflict (4/1a)   Series Home

Before we begin with Part 2, we'll go through a quick refresher from part 1. Our behavior is determined by the two processes that comprise our conciousness; self-esteem (SE), how we look at the past, and self-confidence (SC), how we plan for the future. Created during development, inaccuracies present are either corrected during youth or negatively reinforced. In the latter case they become maladaptive strategies or behaviors (MS/Bs) we engage in as adults. When asked to explain an MS/B, you'll hear the cognitive distortions (CD's); the little white lies we tell ourselves to justify undesirable action based upon logical fallacies. And that brings us to Part 2. How is that manifested and what do you do about it?

Conflict, as we experience it, is when the reality of something doesn't match our expectations or desire. Conflict in life is natural. There's no way of avoiding it and, by and large, we're pretty good at managing it. Think about your walking down a crowded sidewalk. People are regularly coming into your path for any number of reasons. However, you more or less expect this so you navigate accordingly and everything works out fine. That's how it should work. But now let's go back to what we referenced in Part 1.

During development we learn how to to make sense of what our feelings are telling. But what happens when that translation is inaccurate? That means that you'll feel or "perceive" a situation incorrectly. So as long as that situation presents itself to you it's not going to feel right. But what if that situation is what it should be. After all, that's what we're talking about. Your feelings are telling you that something that is okay is not okay (or actually something that isn't ok, is okay, which is another huge problem that I'm not tackling now). But if something is okay there's no reason for it to change. At that point, you have two options. Either change what you expect or get it to change. This can lead to chronic conflict which is a key point that we'll come back to. Before that, let's talk about what that conflict does.

In preface to the next paragraph I want to note that more proprietary definitions appear. Just as we have come up with specific versions of self-esteem and self-confidence, we need to label emotions. The main reason for this is that 4Sight is covering new ground and in order to explain the concepts - really, in order to give you the tools to help you understand the underlying mechanisms and with which you can communicate with others - we need to give new meaning to existing words and phrases because the definitions the Model requires don't exist in the exact form needed. By creating these specific definitions we can better illustrate and explain things. Okay, side-bar done. Let's get back to conflict.

When we experience conflict, we physically feel it. When we feel it we assign emotions to that feeling based upon the conflict the we are experiencing. And the types of conflict fall into two distinct categories based upon chronology. If the conflict is about something that is yet to happen - around a self-confidence issues - the feelings are of worry or fear. Those are future feelings, meaning we fear that something bad will happen or worry that something good won't happen. If the conflict is around the past - around a self-esteem issue - the feelings are of shame or guilt. Those are past feelings, meaning that we feel guilty about something we did but shouldn't do or we feel ashamed of something that is okay to do but doesn't feel right. There are a bit of semantics going on here so please bear with me. Hopefully, you get the general point of past and present feelings and there being different types within them.

Nonetheless, we refer to these four as the primary conflict emotions identified by the model that we can experience in the "present", so to speak, when we're thinking of something and it causes conflict. There are other emotions that we experience, for example sadness and surprise, but these are not feelings rooted in conflict so to speak. However, when the feelings are of conflict and the resulting state is severe or repetitive, we may refer to them as depression or anxiety. Regardless, all of this can occur in our own head without anyone noticing unless we say or do something that alerts them to our feelings. We'll refer to this as internal conflict. This is an important distinction because, per the Model, mild or moderate issues are generally internal. When these feelings become severe or extreme, they often spill out on to others so to speak.

As stated, conflict can also be "external", in which case it will impact those around us. That can happen when our internal conflict spills out or when something external - another person or event - is part of the conflict. In any case we will exhibit emotional behavior as that is how unmanaged conflict, asn SE or SC issue, is manifested. And whether or not this person is causing it, your behavior will likely be unexpected. At this point, whether just one of you is behaving emotionally or you both are, the question becomes what happens next. Unless there is some type of clarification or reconciliation, a kind of mutually assured destruction scenario can occur where it escalates. Or perhaps you both just walk away and choose to avoid talking about what happened. The problem is that unless this conflict is resolved, it is out there and likely to happen again. Even if the same situation is avoided, the root cause will remain and able to cause future problems. Hence, conflict becomes chronic. Chronic conflict as an adult is problematic enough. As a youth, well, that's where all the problems start.

Before we get to chronic management, we need to cover something really important first. Emotional responses are rooted in our development up to age 3, yet our earliest memories, by the time we're adults, start at around age 6, and even then they're sparse. What that means is that if we haven't learned how to manage the feelings around a specific event, we're going to be triggered by something that reminds of the root root situation that makes us "feel" undesirable. In most instances, the trigger is going to be nothing like it. And this my friend, is the root of all our chronic conflict, internal and external.

You see, when we're infants, we learn about the world around us. In order to do that, we need emotional comfort that enables us to survive. We need food and we need to feel safe. If one can eat, one can live and if one is safe, one won't die. Everything else is icing on the cake and gets built upon that. That includes an array of emotions although the lower level ones include the desire to feel free, stable, and wanted. Back to the core concept; chronic management.

We avoid pain in a big way. That includes the desire to not have emotions that physically make us feel bad. If there are these leftovers from development - for example, let's say a child gets cranky when it's hungry - *and* this continues to get reinforced during youth rather than unlearned - let's say the parents coddle the child and the child avoids the situation as well - then a maladaptive strategy/behavior (MS/B) can develop. With this example this can range from the simple, like having a rigourous meal schedule and diet plan, to the more severe, like marrying a spouse that also serves this "need", especially since the hungry individual gets to the point of being emotional, irate for example, when food is late. You can imagine the scene in a restaurant and maybe I've even explained some strange behavior of a friend. "Why *does* Fred get so pissed when we go to a busy restaurant and service is slow?". Maybe, now you know.

But think about this with other considerations. First, lots of people have these types of quirky responses. Second, there are plenty of times when one person's quirk triggers another person's quirk. Third, we often don't speak up about these moment but choose to let them slide, even doing what we can to avoid them (let's not go out to dinner with Fred anymore!) - a topic I'm going to talk about at lenght in a following article. Fourth, few if any of us even understand what is going on (this article may even be the first time you've thought about it). And, finally, some of these MS/Bs can be severe and serial. Here comes the tough part.

I realized over the years that a lot of people have self-esteem issues. They negative self-talk. They do it pretty often. And for those who do it a lot or with great severity, they are presented with the problem I'm talking about above. They feel bad. They don't want to admit it. They seek to "project" their problem onto another and remove the blame from themselves. They don't want to be responsible for the feeling itself or the reason for the feeling. If this scenario is present after individuation *and* the household enables negative reinforcement, an MS/B can develop which will eventually manifest itself in adulthood as one of the two evil cousins; abuse and bigotry.

Here's the thing. We all project, but we usually do it in a good way. When we see another adult we usually give them the respect they deserve and expect them to meet a minimum of civil behavior. We do this so regularly that we actually are surprised when we see someone who's not doing what we expect, like a street person. In other words, how we see and feel about ourselves - what we expect - is assumed to be present in others. But what happens when that involves a lot of negative self-talk? There are two likely outcomes. One, is of a blanket feeling, like when a person is misanthropic. The other is a more targeted approach. That means that any person that treats someone with contempt (bigotry) or dismisses their rights altogether (abuse) based solely on something that person represents (a gender, sexual preference, religion, race, skin color, ethnicity, etc) is guaranteed of two things. One, their is some basic self-loathing going on at least some of the time *and* they've developed an MS/B to compensate for that feeling.

Let me emphasize this in it's own paragraph because it is hugely important. Any racist, misogynist, anti-semite, gay-basher, etc. doesn't like themselves, had self-esteem issues at age three, and was raised in a household where this undesirable - frankly, gross - behavior was enabled if not downright reinforced. I support gun control laws and decry sexual harassment in the workplace, but when a freight is moving in a direction - and all behavior has a momentum unto itself - simply adding a dead end isn't going to help. The truck will either turn to avoid the obstacle or, worse, try to crash through it.

I am going to close with this. All the conflict that we experience - internal and with others - is rooted in deficiencies in development When conflict is a recurring pattern in a adult, the negative feelings when looking at the past or planning for the future have been compensated for by the development of a maladaptive strategy or behavior of which the offender is, to some extent, unwittingly subjected to. Every single event of conflict is explained by this. So, now that you know how this comes about and how it's expressed, what next? For that, you'll have to wait for Part 3.

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