‘He decided very young to write his own life story. He decided before he could possibly have worked it all out, and before fate and time could have worked their will on him, he decided that he would not ever be dis-empowered’. These were the words of Bill Clinton about Muhammad Ali at his funeral last week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYRCTXruY0c
On hearing these words I found myself thinking about what did that mean. What do we need to do to avoid being dis-empowered. I think the first step is to truly believe that we can choose our own responses to all events, both good and bad.
So many times people talk about how a person ‘made me feel’, how ‘I had no choice’. ‘Why should I be constructive when they are so negative’? When we wait for others to do something or blame them for what they have done, we give away our power. There is a moment in every conflict where we have a choice. A choice between a destructive and a constructive response. To exercise this choice is to consciously choose the constructive response. This is where our freedom lies. A destructive response is not a conscious choice and will dis empower you.
Take the time to think! Think about the best response in conflict. A major factor that contributes to the escalation of conflict is the hasty and unplanned response. Not being mindful of our words and actions can lead us to act in ways that make the other party even more upset, angry and unyielding than before.
Analysing a conflict situation appropriately is a very significant part of the solution. Always ask yourself,’ What would a positive common outcome to this conflict be?’ This question prompts us to consider the conflict from a perspective other than our own, to see the wider situation rather than our own self- interest as well as opening our minds to the interests of the other.