Probably the most important indicator of sustaining work as a mediator, or conflict resolution specialist is our motivation to do this work. It is not obvious to those outside our field why we would choose to enter the messy lives of people in crisis, upset with each other and often filled with turmoil. Don’t we have enough trouble dealing with our own lives not to add the extraordinary challenge of presuming that we can help others?
When we are working well with others who appreciate us and who are genuinely interested in finding their way through conflict with mutual respect, it’s easy to feel the joy of this work. But when the going gets rough and the room is filled with anger, accusations, manipulation and deception, and the parties are not only not appreciative of each other, but include us in their lines of fire, it’s a different story. These moments call upon us to know as deeply as we can not only what we are doing, but why we have chosen to be there.
In our SCPI (Self Reflection for Conflict Professionals Intensive) programs, the internal investigation of the many layers of our motivations is a central focus of our work. With the support of each other, we uncover as deeply as we are able the various strands in our lives that have led us and can provide us with the inner strength necessary to withstand the many challenges that we experience in helping others in conflict.
What makes this so important for each of us is our creation of deep anchors within ourselves that we can draw upon and use in both the particular moments that are most difficult and in the long run to create and sustain internal rewards that come from a commitment to working from our hearts as well as our heads.
We make this a continuing and ongoing exploration to find not just the obvious or apparent reasons that we are already aware of, but the hidden layers as well that connect to our individual histories and have the potential to provide us and our clients with the deep satisfaction that can come from such an effort. In SCPI we offer daily practices and exercises that open those doors for each of us.
The kinds of reasons that others have found in those explorations include not just our ideals but the deeply personal needs and longings that conflict work satisfies. Of course there are pragmatic reasons that include earning a living, supporting our families, feeling productive. But others, some of which are surprising, can be uncovered as well. In sharing our stories and discoveries with each other in SCPI, we reinforce each other’s and our own choices to live professionally and personally at this deeper level.
In this exploration, we also confront the profound paradox of looking within ourselves, finding the strength that comes from that, and understanding that we do this for ourselves to help others. That is the basic thrust of the effort and our SCPI program.