7 Mindfulness Attitudes to Help You Stay Calm and Think Clearly in Heated Conflicts

As an Integrative Health Coach who uses a person-centered approach to working with each client, trained to withhold my personal judgments and assumptions at all costs, I've developed a profound appreciation for every person's inherent differences, preferences, circumstances, and values in life. After all, what right do I have to apply what I know based on my personal experiences onto others when I don't (and will likely never) fully understand what they have been through, what they know to be true, what they like or dislike, and what conditions they're currently in?

Consequently, when someone told me recently that my way of being and thinking was outright wrong no matter what, I was first shockedshaken in frustration, then speechless, pondering how I could regain my inner balance when I felt like I was slathered in disrespect.

My body temperature had risen steadily, and my heart was pounding faster and harder with each passing moment, preparing my body for a "fight or flight" response.

Which route was I going to take? Was I going to bare my teeth and fight back, or was I going to simply run away altogether? Or, was there another way for me to go?

After years of studying positive psychology and integrative medicine, I knew immediately that I had a third option: The mindful way.

And with this, rather than adding fuel to the fire, I was able to tame my own flames and close down the unresolvable dispute in a calm demeanor, leaving little to no visible scars on my transgressor or myself. Of course, I walked away from the incident with new insights about myself and what I could further work on in the future, but for the most part, I felt like I was able to restore my inner balance much more quickly than I used to be able to.

Have you ever gotten in disagreements with others, in which the resolution to "agree to disagree" seemed impossible? Or have you ever faced conflicts that have caused your mind and body to boil up, rendering you incapable of keeping your cool?

As purpose-driven individuals deeply passionate about the messages we each want to share, it's just the reality that we will, at one point or another, come across people with incompatible viewpoints to ours. I mean, I've had more than a few such encounters myself just in the past year.

But if our overarching goal is to positively impact our world, is it worth it to make enemies out of others also just trying to do good in their own unique ways? We certainly can't please everyone, but I'm not so sure upsetting our health and the wellbeing other people, if we can help it, will be productive for our grander cause.

So how can we stay at peace and even earn the respect of people who see the world differently during heated, gridlocked discussions?

Though I still have to actively practice this every day, I've personally found mindfulness from integrative medicine to be paramount in helping me stay resolute and resilient within discouraging, conflicting, and sometimes hostile environments.

By cultivating the following seven attitudes of mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn (the father of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction or MBSR), you, too, may be able to better maintain a peace of mind when confronting conflicting people and situations in the future.

Non-judging

Our minds are quick to make snap judgments to help us swiftly identify -- without much thinking or reasoning -- whether one might be a friend or a foe, or whether an environment may pose a threat. But in the context of every day living, letting our judgments dictate how we react can be tiring and cause unnecessary worry. So next time, try to mute the voice of opinion inside your head and remove your personal, experiential lens, simply becoming aware of the situation in its purest, objective state of being.

Patience

Our lives are bound by time. We are used to having deadlines, planned activities, specific schedules, etc. that push us to constantly race against time, making us feel rushed in everything we do. But we can't force everything or everyone to follow our timelines, and sometimes we just have to understand and accept that certain things need to unravel at their own pace.

Beginner's mind

Many of us approach new situations with old eyes, and many of us get defensive as soon as someone says something we may disagree with. But if you can, try to simply understand rather than to be understood, and try to approach the conversation or situation at hand with an open curiosity to just learn as much as you can.

Trust

Sometimes, we can become our own enemies, being so critical of everything we say and do. But how can we get others to trust us if we can't learn to trust ourselves first? Next time, try replacing any negative self-talk you catch yourself doing with trust in your own experience, authority, feelings, and way of being. 

Non-striving

Having preconceptions and expectations of how we want something to turn out can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for ourselves. Acknowledging that some things are simply out of your control, try to loosen up and avoid forcing or expecting a certain outcome of a situation that is not going the way you want it to.

Acceptance

Sure, try changing the things you cannot accept, but at the end of the day, if the situation is beyond your control, accept what you cannot change. In simple terms, if you can't change the outcome, let it go and change your outlooks, because that may be your only way out of your downward spiral.

Letting go

We tend to hold on to what's pleasant while running away from the unpleasant. But instead of squirming in discomfort, what if we just let the situation be what it is, separating our reactive selves from our pure awareness while letting go of our immediate instinct to either fight or flight?

What does this look like in practice?

Combining all of the above elements, being mindful during an impassioned, uncompromisable dispute would mean that we acknowledge our immediately occurring judgments and physiological reactions, let go of any desires to force certain outcomes, step back to simply examine the objective picture as a whole, open ourselves up with a curious, beginner's mindset to learn, and let the situation be exactly what it is.


If you feel stuck in an area of your life, weighed down by negativity, or paralyzed by a lack of motivation or know-how, let me help you power forward with practical action so you can finally reach your huge milestones.