Mindfulness Tip: Head to the balcony
We finished up YESbookclub this weekend. As you know we’ve been reading High Conflict: Why we get trapped and how we get out by Amanda Ripley, we discussed our key takeaways and how the book has already made a huge impact in our lives when it comes to noticing high conflict, noticing fire starters, and coming from a mind of curiosity instead of a mind of judgement “us vs them.”
One of the tools in the book is a great way to practice mindfulness while in conflict. Other than only focusing on taking deep breaths Ripley discusses an interview where William Ury, an anthropologist and negotiator, talked about a time he was in discussions with Hugo Chávez. Ury was getting absolutely screamed at. He didn’t want to break and move into conflict so he did what he calls “going to the balcony.”
Basically, he imagined himself watching from a “mental and emotional balcony” so that you can stay focused and calm. Since he couldn’t actually physically distance himself to calm down, he did so mentally and emotionally so that he could then approach Chávez with self-control and focused interests.
This also gave Ury the opportunity to mindfully listen to Chávez because he was able to separate himself from the emotion because he imagined himself watching the scene play out. This got Ury present to the moment without being overwhelmed with what to say or do next.
So whether it’s your boss, your parent, your spouse, your toddler, or the guy in the car next to you yelling at you create mental and emotional distance by going to the balcony to watch it play out from above. Notice what is actually happening through true listening and focus.
What I’ve come to realize out of this book is that people do well when they can, and you can’t ask the impossible from others and assume they know what you are thinking.
Here are a few quotes from the book that really spoke to me, feel free to put them in your journal to use whenever you need!
“Wishing your opponent will finally see the light is a fool’s errand. It will only lead to heartbreak… Because people swept up in high conflict do not think of themselves as full of hate, even if they are. They think of themselves as right.”
“Humiliation is the ‘nuclear bomb of the emotions,’ the psychologist and physician Evelin Linder wrote.”
“One problem with withdrawing from a high conflict is that nothing else changes. Your enemies still think of you as an enemy. Your friends still think of you as who you were, not who you want to be.”
“This is another peculiarity of high conflict. It can be one-sided. It can spiral out of a feud that lives mostly in our own heads. The other person may never even know they’re in our high conflict at all.”
“If winning means your neighbors get humiliated, you haven’t won. ‘Anger is not transformative,’ Ruth King wrote in Mindful of Race. ‘It’s initiatory.’”
“‘The overall lesson is, Don’t allow a narrative to be the grounds on which you made a decision about people,’ Andy Said. ‘Allow yourself the vulnerability it takes to really get to know someone.’”
Last one a question to think about:
Do you ever find yourself defending your own side by pointing out that the other side does the same thing-or worse?