Most fights start when we feel afraid – of something, or someone, of looking silly, stupid, being wrong or being expected to do something we don’t want to do.
Some people get into a fight with a person perceived as “different” in some way.
We need to perceive people “different” from us in a new way – we need to observe how we are the same – and how our differences encourage learning new ways to think and act.
Find Your Empty Self
When fear exists, it’s important to find your “empty” self – the self you find when you sit and “clear the clouds” from your mind – so you do not react to someone or something who is trying to trigger a fight in you.
Make Your Mind Like the Moon
The moon, especially when it’s full, shines its light equally on everything below it. When we shine our mind on everything around us, we can develop an UNDERSTANDING of our thoughts and feelings, and then the fight inside us tends to disappear!
Peace Calls for New Insight
Changing Different to the Same
Think of someone you know who you think is very different from you. Name three things you have in common with that person.
Tug of Peace
You’ve probably played a game called “Tug of War” sometime in your life. Have you ever played “Tug of Peace”? Kids sit in a circle and make a circle with a rope lying in front of everyone. Then everyone picks up the rope and pulls – everyone at the same time – so you all stand up together. There’s no loser in this game. Everyone wins.
“Act From” vs. “React To”
When we react to someone else’s words or actions rather than act from what we understand inside us – we aren’t thinking for ourselves.
When we can take ourselves out of a deeply ingrained, single-minded way of doing something – exactly the same way it has always been done – we are thinking for ourselves. Understanding and recognizing another person’s thoughts and feelings is a sign of respect.
Respect is the act that conquers fear. Power is the ability to understand my self and demonstrate respect for others in the world.
What We Need to Overcome Fear
To overcome fear, we need to recognize how we’ve been conditioned! There are three kinds of conditioning:
One form of conditioning is biological. We are driven to eat, drink and sleep — our bodies crave these things to ensure our survival. We don’t have to think about them! They’re habits! “I’m hungry!”
Another form of conditioning is physical. We have to work to keep our bodies in shape via stretching, bending, working out. We “condition” our muscles to get used to our exercises. “My legs are killing me from the treadmill run!”
The third form of conditioning is psychological. This is training of the mind – behavior we’ve been taught, over and over, until it becomes a habit. We think about this behavior when we first learn it; later, hardly at all. “I stop for a red light — anywhere!”
Our psychological conditioning – the way we’ve been trained to think – can create conflict in our lives. Maybe we have chores to do and don’t want to do them. Maybe we’re angry about something and can’t seem to get rid of the anger.
If we can learn how to stop the little “wars” inside us….
…perhaps we can learn to stop the bigger ones outside us – and even greater ones all over the world. Remember, we are the world, and the world is us.
If you are AWARE of your own past conditioned thinking, right when it arises, it can be undone by NOT acting on it!
KNOWLEDGE comes from our collective past. It can trigger an automatic programmed reaction, based on our conditioning.
INSIGHT is immediate! It can dissipate any conflict that comes from this automatic programmed reaction. It allows you to “act from” your own experience – right in the moment!
The Three Ways We Communicate
We explain, we offer examples, we experience in the moment.
I explain what I’m doing.
Using thought, I have foresight!
But I cannot end conflict by explaining,
because I am caught in thought.
Explanation is enhanced by foresight —
knowledge is gained by looking forward.
I offer an example of what I’m doing.
Knowledge based on looking backward.
I possess hindsight! But I cannot end conflict,
because I am caught in thought.
Example comes from hindsight –
knowledge gained by looking backward.
I am experiencing what’s happening right here, right now.
Something’s happening, and I’m in the moment.
Since I’m not caught in thought, there is insight!
Insight comes from looking inward — inside yourself.
EXPLANATION is necessary in life,
to describe what we need in order to communicate.
Being able to provide EXAMPLES is also helpful, to recall what we’ve done in the past, and use it to further our knowledge.
But in the moment, when we need to act rather than re-act to our conditioned selves – insight, which comes from EXPERIENCING, is what helps us survive!
Some knowledge is useful; other knowledge prevents us from seeing WHAT IS – in other words: the truth.
Staying in the moment, being aware of everything and everyone around you, makes you safer than relying on old thoughts that might not be true.
What creates conflict is fear!
We Humans Have the Intelligence to Stop Conflict Before It Starts
We all get angry. Our buttons get pushed. Our emotions are triggered by something that happened in the past.
Being aware that this is true helps stop a new conflict from arising!
Our old (Reptilian) brain cannot tell the difference between a real threat and a supposed threat. So these groups are ready to fight with each other based on ideas that are NO REAL DANGER!
The danger exists only in their minds.
Some threats are only false images! It appears that our brains are “hardwired” for war. We’ve likely inherited this tendency from our cave ancestors.
As a result, we fear people who are “different” because we believe that this will somehow help us, and our group, survive. But does it?
In today’s world, isn’t the opposite true? The more we think of “different” people as enemies, the less safe we become?
When we can see through differences that separate us, and understand them — it becomes instantly possible to be free of those differences — right there, right in the moment! It’s as quick as that! If you refuse to fight, no matter what — there will be no fight!
Ethnocentrism: Overcoming Tribal Thinking
Think of a group you belong to.
Does your group have qualities that make it different from other groups? Do you see any kind of “conditioned” thinking in your group? Does your group tend to see people outside the group as “different,” “wrong” or unacceptable in any way?
What happens in your mind as soon as you apply a label to any individual or group of people? Do they suddenly appear “different” to you, instantly separating you from them – perhaps making them a kind of enemy?
Conflict is a war that starts in our mind and then heads out into the world — from the playground to the battlefield.
In todays world, it appears that war will always exist because we humans give in to ancient instincts that we cannot seem to transcend.
But a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step… in understanding what prevents peace.
What is your first step?
How to Stop a Fight: In One Easy Lesson
“Oh, my gosh! I’ve been conditioned to think that kid is stupid. Was I ever wrong about that!”
The way to stop a fight is to become AWARE of your conditioned thinking. It’s that simple!
“What you said reminded me of something my father once said, and it made me angry. Didn’t mean to get upset.”
The second you SEE your conditioned thinking, the fight inside you stops.
Genetics is the science of heredity and variation in living organisms – like human beings! We inherit traits from the genes of our parents, and other ancestors.
Epigenetics is the science of changes in our genes – these are changes that do not involve our genetic code, but happen anyway. For example, lifestyle choices such as eating too much can change epigenetic marks on our DNA that cause genes for obesity to express themselves strongly and genes for longevity to express themselves weakly.
Good news: Current thinking is that if you remove harmful environmental pressures, and stop eating too much, those epigenetic marks will eventually fade, and your DNA code will, over time, begin to revert to its original programming.
Every cell in our body contains a set of about 24,000 genes. Life experiences — from toxin exposure to physical affection — can alter gene expression in powerful and sometimes reversible ways. The average adult human body has around 37.2 trillion cells.
BULLYING SOMEONE can alter that person’s genes. It can change the structure surrounding the victim’s genes and hinder his or her ability to handle stress later in life.
Knowing that epigenomes can change the expression of our genes, it’s possible that a person, prejudiced by ancestors and history, could be altered to a more productive outlook by living in an environment of intelligence and new thinking.
This means that a destructive view can be changed to an intelligent view – an “enemy” turned into a friend – and years of prejudice against a particular group can end – within one generation!
Turning Destructive Thinking Into Intelligent Action
By changing our mental, physical and psychological environment – through intelligent exploration – we can affect our genetic structure in a constructive way.
Some scientists say:
- The ways we think and respond to our environment – what we learn and what we pay attention to – shape our brains and alter how we think.
- Whenever our brains are activated by violent images, our thought cells start to change. They take in more chemical energy and re-do our nerve endings and receptors.
- How we live, what we see, what movies and television we watch – all of these have an effect on our genetic structure.
Conflict is a struggle that grows out of opposing forces. If two or more groups, organizations or forces are not in conflict, there is no battle!
Understanding your own thoughts and feelings, as well as the thoughts and feelings of others, by stopping to think before you act – conquers your fears!
Enemies and Heroes: Do We Need Them?
Is this boy a hero or an enemy? How can you tell? He’s likely a “hero” to some and an “enemy” to others.
“The enemy” is an illusion. It’s a figment of our imagination – a creation in our own mind!
The Nightmare of a Real Video Game
There are soldiers based in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the U.S., who man armed drones – unmanned combat air vehicles. In other words, they fly without pilots. These vehicles can be used in helpful missions — for example, to search for people who may be lost in the wilderness. But the U.S. Air Force uses such drones to fly 7,500 miles to and over Afghanistan to kill people they don’t know who are called “the enemy.”
They do this on what look like video game monitors, except the situation is real. The drones can strike with precision with no cost to American lives. Planes can survey from up to nine miles above their target. The Pentagon is clamoring for more of these drones — smaller ones that are more difficult to detect.
Soldiers are told that their country relies on them to do this. When the soldiers start playing this real video game, they are IN the fight. But all they see is the bomb exploding on a screen. They do NOT see the results of the button they have pushed, because they are not there – where the bomb has exploded — they are thousands of miles away. And after “work,” they go home to their families and act as if what they did was just another day at the “office.”
One such predator pilot has said, “I pray. Everything else falls into place.” But nearly half of post-9/11 veterans have said these deployments — killing people they don’t know thousands of miles away whom they call “the bad guys” — have strained their relationships with their spouses, and a similar group reports problems with their children as well. Many suffer what’s called “post traumatic syndrome,” meaning they suffer from the real effects of being in combat even though it’s only like a video game.
Sixty percent of these soldiers use such words as “lousy,” “eye opening” and “nightmare” to describe their experience. Can you imagine killing people you don’t know thousands of miles away, because you were told they are “bad guys”?
Winning war video games can help you imagine that you can become a hero by joining the Armed Services. But isn’t working out differences easier than fighting a war?
When confronted by what we perceive as a threat, our Reptilian brain awakens, ready for battle! It kicks into gear, ready to fight a person or group it perceives as a danger to its survival.
“I am ready for combat,” says the Reptilian brain. “Let’s fight!”
Our brain, on automatic pilot, stuffed with old information, heads off to war — just as it’s always done, since before we were born — with fears and beliefs inherited from generations of people who were conditioned that way.
“Too much conditioned information!”
This old, outdated, conditioned information continually re-loads into our brain, even though it no longer works to ensure our survival. It continues to activate our biologically hardwired brain to protect us — even though it’s not protecting us anymore.
What prevents peace is this hardwired conditioning. What creates peace is understanding.
Are Our Brains Hardwired for War?
“Am I born a biological bully?”
In war-torn countries, young boys pack sawed-off shotguns. They sleep with their guns as their older brothers fight on the front lines. They have friends whom their families consider “the enemy” because these friends fight on opposite sides.
When asked what these young children would do if they met their friend on the front line, they say, “I would kill him.”
People ask: How do friends become enemies?
But the better question to ask is: How can enemies become friends?
- A challenge for all of us is to not try to bring about peace, but to understand what prevents it!
- Take into consideration understanding others whose perspectives and beliefs are different.”
- Learn to see things as they are – without judging – just seeing what is, without judgment.
Look at the World Through the Eyes of Peace
Being able to STOP and THINK in the face of a conflict requires a strong mind — a mind that can think outside the box of conditioning.
Can you STOP and THINK anytime you catch yourself judging something or someone adversely?
We grow up listening to parents, grandparents, guardians, relatives, teachers, leaders, so-called experts and others who profess to have knowledge and wisdom. As a result, we aren’t always encouraged to think for ourselves – independently.
Look at the world – everything and everyone in it – with a beginner’s mind – a mind that thinks on its own.
Proprioception: Seeing What IS Without Judgment
No matter who you are or where you live, be sure to remember that your real source of power is YOU — your mind, your thoughts, and your understanding of your own strength.
Because, in reality, we all have the same address: Planet Earth.
From this perspective, there are no countries, no borders, no tribes, no groups, no differences.
YOU are in charge of ending conflict in your mind. YOU are in control of stopping a conflict that starts inside you.
Communicating Without Fighting
“My mind is open to new thoughts and ideas.”
Sometimes there is way too much information “out there” – and we get confused by it all.
There are “talk” shows and news broadcasts that attempt to bully us into thinking one way or another, as well as comedies, action adventures, soap operas and reality shows that can influence how we think and feel.
There are commercials, magazine ads and billboards telling us to buy this or that in order to feel better, look better or be a better person.
There are social networks where people post notices on home pages proposing thoughts and actions they believe we should take on.
There are video games that engage us in war games — some so real, you can feel your blood race through you as you play. Play? Is this really playing? It feels more like warring.
While we don’t consider people in our lives as media, people at home, at school and in our community often can have a strong effect on how we think, feel and act.
Minds are like parachutes. They function only when they are open.
Earthlings: A Global Village for Peace
The world is one village. This is the tribe I belong to.
In today’s world, there have been many new changes — on the Internet, in technology, in the way people communicate.
As a result, there are new opportunities for learning how to handle situations that put us into conflict, so we don’t have to keep doing what we’ve always done – which doesn’t seem to work.
We are a global village, but we need to pay attention to our inner voice.
- Keep dialogue a high priority at home, at school and in your community.
- Take that STOP moment when you find yourself in conflict! Free yourself from old conditioning!
- ACT based on your in-the-moment insight – rather than REACT to someone else’s conditioned action.
- Action moves you forward; reaction takes you back to old conditioning!
- Be open to understanding your own conditioning as well as the conditioning of others.
- Take the time to UNDERSTAND who and what is around you.
“I am aware of a new light being turned on in my brain, and I understand now that I don’t have to bully, and that peace can happen in an instant — through insight!”