Who is the Enemy?

Conflict presup0poses an enemy. An opponent. Someone working against you. And sometimes we discover that that person is not actually working against us at all. Conflict solved. We are embarrassed but also relieved.

Other times, we discover that people are working against us, but the reason can be corrected. Perhaps they were mistaken about what we are trying to do. We can help them see the reality, which can resolve the conflict. Here, we need a bit of skill to manage this.

And in other times, the conflict is about things that matter. There is a reason for the conflict. A deep seated collision between interests. One other the other side will give in. Managing this type of conflict is complex. It requires strategic competence.

And then there is the last type of conflict. The one that most baffles us. That is when we are in conflict with ourselves. This happens more than we might think. We know that the brain seems to  create the potential for conflict all the time. Csikszentmihalyi called this “psychic entropy”. Messages from the left side like “you are a loser”. Or “this will never work”. Notice how psychic entropy is like a slap in the face when you least need it.

Can we manage this? It helps to realize that the brain produces psychic entropy on a regular basis. It is like grass growing. If you don’t tend to the brain, the lawn of psychic entropy can get out of control. So how do we tend to it? There are two tools: focus and flow.

I will discuss this in future posts. For now, just focus on how often you find yourself at odds with yourself. It can be exhausting!

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