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Are you tied in knots?

I have a knack for untangling the finest, flimsiest chains and often find myself offering to do this for friends or exasperated store attendants. Yes I know this is weird...

I think the secret is that I don’t get impatient, love the small picking and pulling and the sheer Zen focus you have to apply to make inroads into the knotted mess. Find the threads, loosen the knots, turn things around to try a different angle, pull a willing thread, get up to take a breather and change the scenery. Start again with fresh eyes. Slowly the strands start to separate, the knots disappear and the people around you smile as if you’ve just performed a miracle!

Being in conflict is similar to being a bunch of tangled chains and knots. You have different threads of miscommunication and misaligned expectations or thwarted desires. You stumble over words and get caught in emotions. You can't find the opening for your message to land or the calm to hear another's viewpoint and you can't see your way out of the tangles and the knot in your stomach.

If you want to resolve the situation that is upsetting you and lay things out clearly, you have to find the opening and start unravelling the threads instead of creating a tighter knot.

The same attention and dedication I use to untangle chains, I apply to clear up conflict.

More accurately, I help people release the knot in the pit of their stomachs until they are able to feel and see past the tangled mess that the conflict situation creates in themselves and in their relationships.

I direct people to become aware of the threads of conflict they are involved in and help them separate the issues and focus on one issue at a time. I keep asking incisive questions until they find themselves in a place of certainty and calm. I pull the strands until we get to the underlying needs and desires of what really matters and what is actually going on for them.

The next time you find yourself in a knot try this:

  1. Remember, whatever is going on you are so much more than just a knot!

  2. There is always a solution, you have just not found the opening yet.

  3. Hold it lightly. Pulling, tugging and frustration make it worse.

  4. Get some distance if you need to. Clear your head. Be creative.

  5. Be patient. Allow time. Ask questions. Be sincere in trying to understand how things intersect and where they lead to.

  6. Don’t focus on the knot (conflict situation), look for the separate chains and the way to get in.

  7. It is much easier to gain clarity and change your perception when you deal with issues one at a time.

  8. Identify your chains:

  • What are you actually angry about?

  • What are you feeling/thinking/saying?

  • What do you really want/need/hope for?

  • What is your role in the conflict?

  • What have you not done that you need to do?

  • Which of your expectations are completely unrealistic?

  • How big or small is this knot truly?

  • Is it worth being all tangled up about?

  • Will it still matter in a week, a month, a year from now?

  • How are you going to make sure you don’t get all tangled up about this again?

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