Is it always milk and honey or are conflicts crucial moments in our development?

Teamwork makes the dream work, but there are some inevitable times in our lives, as human beings, volunteers, NGOs when the dream doesn’t really fit us anymore or maybe when the work doesn’t necessarily align with the dream. 

But let’s wind back the clock for a second!

There’s a theory which associates our part of the brain responsible for our emotional reactions and states with an Elephant, and this elephant is old, about 150 million years. Throughout all this time, he gathers information about our environment and makes sure we survive. At the opposite pole, there’s the rational part of the brain, which is pictured as a Rider. This rider grew on the back of the elephant, and despite being quite young, only 50 million years, he is vividly trying to train the elephant. So, we all have these 2 instances in our brains, the elephant who is always alert, ready to fight, flight or freeze, and the rider, who is curious, rational and in a continuous trail to relieve the elephant. 

Now, how do we process conflicts from this perspective? Do we leave our elephant to take over and react strictly emotionally, or do we sit back and let the rider do his best to come up with solutions? 

I think this is not a question of choosing, rather it is one of letting the elephant express his feelings and reactions in such a manner that it doesn’t hurt anyone, while making sure that we are setting the table for the rider to build his arguments and come up with solutions. But, once we understand that all of us share an elephant and a rider and that we only perceive situations, conflicts differently, due to the way we have been part of them, the clarity should gain some consistency. 

There is no place on earth where people working together, for the same cause, driven by the same principles, didn’t encounter a moment when they fell off, when they stopped seeing eye to eye, and that is the moment when we should let our elephant and rider debate on how it’s best for the greater good, as well as for the personal good. Conflicts are to be foreseen, people are to be understood, hands to be shaken, and no hard feelings to be left behind

No matter how big the deal is, there is always a lesson behind the scenes, and sometimes it’s all we are left with. 

Maria Andreea Fotache