The theory goes that we are personally-responsible for the majority of conflict we find ourselves in, or at least we contribute in a very tangible way to its happening. I have, upon introspection, found this very much to be true of me. Not all, but definitely quite a large volume of past conflict, whether violent, verbal, psychological, and emotional. I’ll make this post a shorter one. Hypothetically, what if we exchanged striking, grappling & groundfighting, clinch-work, weapons-training and other “outside-in” things….even interviews and OODA loops and pre-incident indicators and situational awareness with:
a) Trigger-exploration and assessment. What sets you off? How does it build? What scenarios are they most present and apt to go off? What topics lead to ignition?
b) Verbal accountability/communication-skills/active-listening. Do you know when to talk and when to listen? How many examples can you give of escalating conflict that were instigated by interruption? Do you monitor tone and pitch when talking with unfamiliar people? What are some strategies you’ve used with success to calm or soothe potentially-explosive situations?
c) Breathing. Do you have a breathing-cycle that you use when you feel your physiology changing for the worse? Are you able to anchor negative physiological responses to that breathing cycle? Do you practice simple breath-awareness throughout your day?
d) Adherence/mindfulness of states/moods. Do you how being tired, being hungry, being in rush-hour traffic, seething prolonged at a fight with your spouse or child, being anxious from work-stress…do to your potential conflict probability? Are you conscious of your state changing from various stimuli? Are you self-controlled when any of these are acknowledged or do you let the emotion flow?
e) Physiology/posture. Are there certain anatomical reactions that you exhibit from fear, anxiety, stress, or depression? What are they? I know, for me, I get neck and shoulder tension, the pit of my stomach tightens, my feet stop moving, my breathing becomes erratic, and my posture changes. What can one do? I loosen my neck and shoulders, make sure my peripheral vision is engaged. Abdominal breathe for a few minutes. Get my feet moving, even if sitting in the same spot.
f) Sleep levels. What amount is enough for you, personally? How does it affect your mood? Your conscious thought? Your reactions to unwanted elements? What levels are insufficient and cause issues? Or is it more broken-patterned sleep? “Undeep” sleep from input that can be altered or eliminated?
g) Defensive-driving. Not combat-driving courses, just regular. defensive. driving. Here, at least, a ton of conflict and violence originates from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. It’s a hugely-neglected area of addressing. Are you reactive and combative or can you let it be blown-off as an element you won’t be changing.
h) Mindset or mentality. Do you have it clear what exactly it is that’s worth fighting for or participating in the physical part? What circumstances, specifically, or worthy of a strong reaction? Which aren’t? Legal, social, familial, fiscal, psychological consequences of involvement?
Now, to be clear, I’m not alleviating the need for physical capability against high-order, predatory violence. It’s out there, and to deny that it could happen to you would be delusional. But, a lot of the daily conflict variety goes to the 3 elements I always preach, both in that daily self-defense and on social-media personal-preservation pages I’ve run. Self-control. Patience. Discipline. Change you, change your reaction to potentially-escalating dynamics….inevitably to conflict. Change your stress response. Your illegitimate fear. Your unheeded anxiety. Your knee-jerk responses. Just for kicks, what if (what if…) training or conditioning in these elements precluded the actual need for much of the over-reliance on the physical ones usually rendered as so utterly important….imagine…