We humans have an incredible capacity to learn. More than the acquisition of skills, information, and knowledge, that capacity helps us mature and evolve — engaging our curious, creative minds, stretching our awareness, and deepening our understanding of the world and ourselves.
One of the most potent vehicles for learning is communication, facilitated for us humans through language. Words are the tools of our species, a product of our undeniable interconnection. Language has the power to clarify, unify, heal and encourage as well as to alienate, confuse, hurt, and demean. It can further learning and it can stop it in its tracks, stifling its development.
The challenges come when opinions differ, more so when they clash, and even more when emotions are triggered. Conflict erupts, stirring up anger and reactivity while at the same time offering us an even greater challenge — an opportunity to mature and evolve.
Our difficulty in meeting that challenge lies in our humanness. Raised in families whose imperfect methods of communication have been passed down through generations while being reinforced by cultural conditioning — the art of navigating conflict over highly charged emotional ground with clear, responsible maturity does not come easily. Our practiced ways of responding from our reactions are already in place.
We all know the pitfalls that send communication into a downward spiral: insults, name-calling, sarcasm, disparaging remarks, belittling, discounting, blaming, overpowering, overriding, attempting to control, squash, squelch, humiliate, or cut off. To name a few.
Fortunately, what enables us to get through conflict lies also in our humanness — our curious, creative minds, our need to understand, and our drive towards greater awareness. What empowers these aspects of our nature even more comes from our essential qualities of the heart— compassion, humility, heartfelt humor, respect, acceptance (opening our minds and hearts enough to embrace the paradoxes in life, others, and ourselves) and forgiveness.
In the process, our ability to communicate reaches new levels and language itself evolves. Returned to our incredible capacity to learn, grow, mature, and evolve, our awareness reaches new clarity, understanding reveals our interconnection and the world becomes a bigger place with more room for diversity and for enlightening, enlivening, inspiring, and fun conversation.