I used to do whatever it took to preserve relationships.

Then, when I first saw the martial art, aikido, my eyes slammed open. It hit me that ‘doing whatever it takes’ is a great disservice to myself and others.  (Aikido provides a model of conflict mastery in which the Spiral Impact Method is grounded, if you are new reader please explore this website).

Now three decades later,  I am very willing to engage in productive conflict, explore and welcome differences, and reflect upon myself.  I practice Spiral Impact® daily.

Parting ways used to feel like failure to me.  Now I know it is not failure.

It is an opening, if done consciously.

Recently, I’ve had a parting of ways in a long-term relationship.  I’d like to share my thoughts here…I hope it is helpful for you.

Conflict is a gift in that it gives clarity. If you understand how to be productive or innovative with conflict it can deepen relationships and bring out the best in the people involved.  Leaving too soon is often a mistake, though staying too long when it is no longer a fit is also a mistake.

Please don’t hear me saying if the going is tough to immediately bail, you may miss out on the real juice in the relationship.

While not to overly simplify, I observe sometimes we can make things more complicated than need be.  These are questions I ask myself, and I’d like to share with you:

Have you:

  • Self-reflected about your part of the conflict or discord?  While expressing differences or needs is invaluable, how did you deliver the information?  Delivery (or lack of delivery) is almost always the part that separates and causes a reaction.  In a world filled with virtual communication, polarization, and fear there is a lot of opportunity for your intention to be misunderstood.
  • Communicated your part of the issue leaving out any blaming or accusations?  Just own your part and if there is something you could have done better. This is not about them. It always takes at least two to have conflict. (Okay, sometimes those two can be your own mind versus your heart!) 
  • Explored if the others are receptive and willing to dialogue? (Perhaps, they’ve already parted ways?)
  • Considered safety concerns emotionally, physically, and psychologically?
  • Gauged whether your values and intentions can be honored in the relationship?
  • Talked it through with an unbiased trusted advisor and let it percolate a bit, so you decide from a centered rather than reactive state?  (Note, this blog is not a substitute for one-on-one therapy or coaching)

When I ask these questions, it clarifies whether there is a fit for a continued relationship. It also allows me to part ways feeling I did my part.

Grief is expected when change happens, even if it is a good change.  I still feel a bit sad about my recent parting of ways. If you practice Spiral Impact, revisit each of the quadrants, they are incredibly helpful for moving on.

The cliché, when one door closes another one opens is very true.  Though, sometimes it takes a bit to see the new door!  Look for the gift.  Remember a fresh path has more vibrant scenery and stimulates your senses and creativity!

Most important:

While my eyes were slammed open to take another path,
I haven’t slammed the door to my heart toward the other(s).