Does fear of appearing weak cause men to give up on peace? Ike Lasater’s ideas can help break this cycle.
1. START WITH THE PRESENT MOMENT
Place the attention of you mind on the present moment by focusing on your breathing. When you practice conscious breathing, you have no other choice than to be in your present experience. This takes you out of analysis, thought and judgment.
2. SEEK TO BE GRATEFUL
Research shows that if you identify what you’re grateful for on a regular basis, you will improve both your mental and physical health- as well as your outlook on life. Thanks to the neurotransmitter dopamine,gratitude produces a cascade of good feelings. In turn, these good feelings encourage more harmonious relationships.
The great news is that a little gratitude goes a long way. Begin by creating a gratitude journal. Start each day by writing down at least one thing you are thankful for. You’ll find that over time this awareness will become habitual and that communicating your gratitude will increase your personal peace.
We humans have only one way that our bodies respond to a perceived challenge, whether it is a threat to our life from a lion on the ancient savanna or a hostile word from a partner. This “Fight or Flight Response” triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol into our blood streams. For our purposes, the key effect of these is to reduce our capacity to think clearly.
Each day, effort to identify the physical stress response in yourself at its very earliest stages (i.e. shoulder tension, tightening of the chest, racing heart). In those moments, try to shift into less stressful and more effective alternatives by connecting to your:
· Breathing (Deep inhale, extend the exhale to a count of 6)
· Body (Pay attention to your bodily sensations without language. Then start using language to name how you’re physically feeling )
· Needs (Ask yourself, if I am feeling X, what needs are not being met?)
When you inhibit your stress response at its earliest stage, you can act not just out of primitive habit, but in alignment with your values, thus fostering more peaceful interactions.
4. MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR SELVES
We all have different voices within ourselves, and all too often these voices are in conflict. When our “selves” are in conflict, we feel stuck, muddled and unclear. We can begin to create peace between those voices by conducting an “internal mediation.” Ask your two selves in conflict to (literally) speak aloud to each other. Set up two facing chairs facing each other, and switch seats as you voice each self. You will likely discover that both of these selves are working on behalf of the same person- albeit with conflicting needs and strategies. This understanding will promote collaboration between your selves, who will hopefully learn to connect at a need level and then together, find strategies to meet both needs. Once they can actually hear each other, they can talk about how they can resolve this. Because, just like a difficult conversation with another person, sometimes it’s hard to hear the different parts of yourself.
5. SEEK TO CONNECT
“Grant that I may not so much seek . . . to be understood, as to understand.”
–The Prayer of Saint Francis
Connection is the doorway to making peace with others. The first and most powerful tool for connection is empathy. The key aspect of empathy is understanding another person.
Of course, connecting is much more difficult when you are in conflict and do not trust the other person’s motives. In these situations, you can create connection by seeking understand “the Need behind the No” Example: “No, I don’t want to go out to dinner” Really means “I need to be home rested, prepare for tomorrow- need space and relief” The Bottom line? Ask questions about the other person’s needs. Connect. Connect. Connect.
6. SPEAK YOUR TRUTH
The Nonviolent Communication model is built upon four components of communication: Observations, Feelings, Needs, and Requests (OFNR). OFNR plus empathetic listening can produce an all-important “shift,” or temporary lifting of tensions, between people who are at odds with each other. Here is an example of OFNR in action: When you leave the house without saying good-bye (Observation), I feel sad and lonely (Feelings) because I really like having companionship in the mornings. (Need) Would you be willing to give me a kiss before you leave the house each day? (Request) Here is an example of what that conversation might have been without the use of the OFNR model: When you blow me off each morning, (Ouch. Judgment) I feel rejected and abandoned (“Faux feeling,” or feeling with an accusing story attached) because I shouldn’t have to put up with your chilliness. (Judgment, with no need stated) When are you going to start being more loving? (Judgment, without a clear request) You see that if you alter the language you use to speak your truth, you can be true to your feelings and needs, while fostering peace at the same time.
7. CHOOSE PEACE
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a person humanized or de-humanized. —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Everyday, at the moment that things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves, ‘Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?’” Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
Often, we resist being the one who reaches out because of some idea that we are giving in or being weak. In our culture, the shame of being weak is deadly. Remember this. In all situations where there is conflict, it is your choice to “escalate or de-escalate.” To “practice peace.” Together, items 1-6 all help you to arrive at this most fundamental and simple truth. It is in your power to decide to Choose Peace every day.
Would you like to help us shatter stereotypes about men? Receive stories from The Good Men Project, delivered to your inbox daily or weekly.