One of the toughest issues for us as therapists is when we encounter a relationship or a family at war. Naturally it is also a great relief when the war ends and the family or relationship finds friendship again. To help people end their wars requires motivation because the desire to win, to be right, to hold the high moral ground is something that seems impossible to let go of. We have some deep mistaken belief of what might happen if we do let go. Many of us have learnt the language of co-operation and partnership, such as that much used phase these days ‘win-win’; yet often that phrase heralds that someone is just about to get shafted because so few people seem to have done the work to be in good and honest relationship with others.
The main motivation to encourage people to end the wars and fights is to explain the outcome, which is even if you win you will still lose. In reality, everyone you fight is on your team. A family in conflict is like a group just scoring own goals all day long and like all wars it exacts a heavy price. It is not possible to be in a fight and be successful.
We are now certainly a country at war with itself, so it comes as no surprise to hear that even the British government thinks we will all be worse off no matter what BREXIT deal we do. There can be no other outcome to narrowly winning a democratic vote and then marching off righteously with our own agenda without first building a bridge to the other side. How could that ever bring about a successful conclusion for all, especially as it seems to be driven by petty self-interest and opportunism? Then, in defense of winning no matter what, democracy becomes a stick to beat the other side with rather than an ethos to live by.
It seems we think we will leave the EU and ride off into the distance doing equal business with the likes of China and USA. Compared to China the UK standing by itself will be just a very small and maybe tasty morsel but no more. And to do a good deal with USA, which is very much a country at war with itself, seems to defy the very, very obvious principle that for Donald to be a winner then someone else has to be the loser.
When a relationship or a family or even a country comes together it become so much more than the sum of its parts. It becomes invincible to the challenges of life, it is self-sustaining and enduring. Of course we must be vigilant to any rifts and have the courage to address them before they become crises. All of us have splits in our minds and all those internal splits will manifest as fights and wars in our outside world, so our willingness to not play those out with the people around us but to reach out, to bridge, working for something greater then ourselves, is as good a way of healing as any.
Naturally these splits in our minds not only show up in the outside world but also show up in our bodies, as at one level every disease is a place where we are at war with ourselves. We get away with nothing!
It all starts with us. To the best of our ability we do need to learn to communicate at higher and higher levels, to bridge even when it seems impossible and not give up on finding the lasting answers. American First Nations peoples have a far-sighted philosophy, which is to make every decision we make in the interest of the Seventh Generation from now. Although we will never know this generation, it will inherit the earth from us and so making that a yardstick for the decisions we make today will create a sustainable future for all.
Most of us have a little distance to travel to be that far-sighted, so maybe today would be a good day to reach out to that place in the future in some way.
Have a thoughtful day!