It’s astonishing how much internal conflict most people carry. Yet it’s considered entirely normal to walk around under a cloud of noise. Often people don’t realize how much pain they radiate. The stories we maintain about ourselves and life (just listen to our thoughts or what we tell others) make it seem OK. Why? Because we need to feel in control, to be safe in an apparently painful and dangerous world.

Ironically, we don’t realize how much we’re contributing to this. And because it’s a shadow or fog, we fail to see. We simply live in the middle of a swamp without seeing the way out.

Because our outer life expresses our inner life, it expands and expresses that pain, confirming the stories and the reality of the swamp.

This is why clearing and settling down within does wonders for settling down our world.

How do you recognize inner conflict?
When we experience others conflicting with us.
When we mechanically react to circumstances with an emotional charge.
When we behave in irrational or compensatory ways.
When our mind is constantly looking for “reasons” to make it OK.
When our mind babbles on about nothing.
When we resist what life is bringing.

Complicating the drama is unresolved past experiences coming around again to be resolved (aka karma). So we have what we’re asking for, how we’re responding, and what life is bringing all mixed in a stew we call “my life.”

One saving grace is that the internal conflict cancels out some of the “asking”, reducing the intentions we don’t actually want, like the common habit of dwelling on what might go wrong.

As we resolve some of this backlog, we slowly step out of the inner conflict. Life then brings bits of eventfulness or drama we can wind down quickly. Because we’re fairly clear inside, what needs to be resolved is clearer. And because there’s so much less volume of it, the task is straightforward. Gradually over time, life winds down rather than up. It becomes a sequence of unfolding experiences and fulfilling desires rather than difficulty, drama, and pain.

Be patient with yourself. These are huge habits we’ve carried for thousands of years. It takes time to bring peace into all levels of experience.

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  1. NN

    Hi David

    I’ve been struggling to understand how to respond in situations where there is a need to be firm from my side.

    By standing up for myself, although I’m constructive and relatively, I risk hurting the other person because I bring light to their bad behavior. This might help them in the long run, but it hurts them short term.

    I may be telling the truth, but I may also hurt the other person. Most of my life I’ve just kept quiet in those circumstances, but it has created large blocks in my throat.

    Do you have any advice for me? It seems to me that standing up for myself in some cases can be in conflict with ahimsa, but not saying anything seems to not help me either.


    1. Hi NN
      The trick is, you can only be responsible for yourself. How another will react is out of your control. Just consider times when you where very nice and someone took it badly.

      It can occasionally be important to be assertive and express where someone is being inappropriate or where your needs are not being met. The key is being clear and neutral and confirming they’ve understood you.

      There is something of an art to learn the difference between assertive and aggressive, what one group calls non-violent communication. Our society tends to offer poor examples. It can be worth learning good communication skills.

      This also relates to energy dynamics. If the person feels attacked in any way, they’re much more likely to react and feel hurt. But again, their response is not up to you.

      Ahimsa comes down to non-violent intent – in action and energy. Otherwise, we’d carry the karma of the life we kill just by breathing. If the recipient turns that into hurt, that is not your doing. It is self-violence.

      This is one I learned through direct experience. When younger, I spent nearly a decade working for the police. I was continuously confronted by the assertive and aggressive, even called to testify against the police chief.

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