Finding Gratitude In Conflict
Thirty-seven years ago this week, I went through orientation at Walt Disney World where I would go on to work for the next ten years in three different parks, and a variety of roles.
I learned a lot of things that day that have managed to stick with me over the past nearly four decades. One of those things was a speech that was given by one of our trainers about not letting an irate guest get the best of you.
They told us that we would likely encounter thousands of people every day, and there might be at most one or two of those thousands that would be angry, nasty, combative, and the like.
"Don't let one person out of thousands ruin your day," was the basic message, and it was a good and wise one. Here's an aphorism that should accompany that message, though: "Easier said than done."
There's something about being human that makes us internalize negativity a whole lot faster than positivity. Not only do we process negativity faster, but it also tends to linger in our heads a lot longer, too.
There's a weird thing that happens to most of us when we find ourselves in conflict, and it's something we all share whether we want to admit to it or not.
You see, when we find ourselves in conflict, we tend to focus on it, think about it, dwell on it, machinate over it, almost to the exclusion of everything else.
This has been so true in my own life.
As much as I try to be the kind of person who doesn't really care all that much what people think of me as long as I am being my best and truest self... I do care, and it bothers me to no end when I find myself in conflict with someone.
I should add that when I'm facing a conflict that doesn't really have anything to do with a particular person, I find myself in the same kind of dizzying patterns of self-criticism, worry, anger, and even bitterness.
I read an incredible quote from an Anonymous source the other day, and I wrote it down to think about it. It's really speaking to me today.
When something or someone is giving me trouble, let me see the incident in relation to the rest of my life, especially the part that is good for which I should be grateful.
Today was one of those days when I really needed to read that. I was coming down on myself pretty hard for a number of issues, conflicts, and other assorted junk. I'm my own worst critic, after all.
Truthfully, most of us are our own worst critics.
And in those moments when we find ourselves obsessing over our conflicts, beating ourselves up over what we could be doing better, worrying about what people think of us, trying to figure out how to make it all go away...
That's when we need to step back and see all of it in relation to the rest of our life---focusing on what is good, beautiful, and true. We need to be mindful of all of the things for which we should be grateful, and focus on those things, give them our energy.
All of the other issues will work themselves out somehow. They have a way of doing just that, in the end.
Or better yet, when we turn our attention to goodness and gratitude when we are focusing on our conflicts, we will find the peace and the strength within us to find ways to resolve them wisely and well.
I'm slowly learning to internalize this and to realize that gratitude is one of those (to quote the Apostle Paul) "good and perfect gifts" that come from God, and it is always being offered to us---even in moments of conflict and self-doubt.
May you find the strength to receive this gift and all that comes with it, today and every day from this day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.