The Healing Power of E.A.R.

       Another thing Debbie and I worked on at Marble Retreat had to do with conflict—what to do in the midst of conflict and what to do following conflict.

       Mike and Kari recommended the use of E.A.R.

       E stands for Empathy.  It is the call to us to be empathetic in the midst of conflict.  It is the call not just to react to the other person but to feel with the other person.  It is the call to consider the heart and the needs of the other person.

       A stands for Assertion.  When a person’s amygdala (the emotionally reactive part of our brain) is triggered a person’s instinctive response is to fight or to fly or to freeze.  I do not tend to be a fighter, but when I am startled or frightened or overwhelmed (in other words, when conflict arises), I tend to fly or to freeze.  This is a call to me not to run and not to freeze but to be assertive; to stay engaged.  It is a call for me to bring myself forward even in the midst of conflict by sharing what is going on within me—particularly my wants, my needs, and my feelings.  For the person whose tendency is to fight, it is a call to be assertive rather than aggressive—not just to react angrily but to step forward in sharing that person’s wants and needs and feelings.  (The other part of assertion has to do with bringing issues to the forefront in a timely manner so that issues might be addressed before they turn into resentment.)

       R stands for Respect.  This is a call to us to be respectful even amidst conflict.  It is the call to recognize that even in conflict the other person is not simply a horrible person.  It is the call to choose to believe the best about the other person and to consider what might be the good in the other person’s concern that has generated the conflict we are experiencing. 

       To sum it up, E.A.R. is the call to favor compassion for one another over resentment toward the other person.

       Mike and Kari also suggested two personal statements that should be shared following conflict:
– I am sorry I did this______________________________ (fill in the blank).
– It must have made you feel like….

       Sharing these two statements following conflict enables us to bring the restorative qualities of empathy, assertion, and respect to our relationship.


One response to “The Healing Power of E.A.R.”

  1. jimerdman says :

    We are enjoying your posts. Jim and Marilyn

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