If you've lived life for any length, you are aware that obstacles come, often taking us by surprise and typically resulting in some sort of conflict. What we are offended by and how we respond in conflict reveals volumes about us. Practicing yoga and meditation has certainly influenced my response to being offended...I've become more flexible..

 So here are 3 mindful tips to help you deal with conflict and hopefully become more graceful:


1. Why Am I Offended?

A simple answer to a simple question: EGO! Perhaps rightfully so, we typically feel disrespected somehow. Our image may have been threatened or our imperfection revealed, often our status was not recognized or our world order was disrupted (this happens when my kids make a mess of the house!). Intrinsically we want authority over our dominion and don't particularly like to share. We expect others to conform to our ideals or expectations. The unconscious self-talk says, "I'm right and they are wrong" or "THIS IS WRONG". Yes we can be big toddlers. There is certainly times and places to be offended, however, often the best way to deal with conflict is not to be offended in the first place!


2. Discovering the Emotional Lesson

I am a believer that there is an emotional lesson behind conflict. Family is the best teacher for this. Growing up in a family with frequent conflict and now raising a family of my own (fortunately with much less conflict), I have learned many emotional lessons such as:

When my child is struggling to learn a lesson, I need to be more patient.

When my mom barks orders forgetting I'm an adult, I need to practice child-like submission.

When my husband is distant, I need to allow him space.

Understanding that I choose to be hurt by these instances, or choose to grow from these instances has been liberating to me. A side benefit is that I experience less conflict.

3. Assume the Best

Perception becomes reality. We certainly want others to assume our best intentions, especially when we blew it. My husband has often reminded me of this, which has been some of the best advice I have ever received. Assuming the best in others will bring out the best in you, them and the entire situation. This is different than denial or being a door mat; this is sprinkling grace onto the world by giving the benefit of doubt.

Using these mindful strategies has helped me grow in gracefulness with others. Conflict is a matter of our judgement, we have the opportunity to look at the world and see the the "wrong" of others or decide to look within and determine what emotional lesson God has in store for me. Jesus reminds us on judging, Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." The conflict in your life, is truly a reflection of you.

Unfortunately at various times in life I have had friends that I discovered were  subtly toxic. These "friends" can come in the roles of coworker, church relationship, family member, client, or others.

These relationships don't directly or immediately appear toxic, but their disease creeps in to find access to your psyche or the psyche of others. If you have not encountered these types of "friends" at some place or another, you likely will. In order to preserve peace and well, have fewer issues in my life, I have found the following detoxifying methods for these 5 Subtly Toxic Friends:

1. Vampire--This friend sucks on your positive energy. They are usually very if not overly friendly on appearance and within groups they are often popular. As you interact with the vampire, you leave and are uncertain exactly what happened because you are exhausted and drained. Because the vampire is popular, they may have a social minion or two they are sucking from, though the vampire has no real close friends and her inner circle mostly consists of colleagues--people who are forced to interact with them. You may find the vampire working with another vampire sucking out of each other as they work together to suck it out of you!

The Detox: The best way to purify your life of the vampire is to give your best self to your best friends only, the vampire won't be interested in sucking the matter-of-fact out of you.

2. Gossip--The gossip has many forms, see my post on The 3 Gossip Games in Church and How To Sit Out.  Nobody wants a gossip as a friend and the subtly toxic gossip can be worse because they are not necessarily consistent or predictable. This gossip usually strikes when she has an agenda such as establishing rapport with a boss or social leader, or fixing a problem (you). This agenda typically justifies their gossiping, at least in their mind (remember they're only trying to "help" you). The subtle gossip may likely have access to your most personal information which can be especially toxic.

The Detox: If you have been struck by a subtle toxic gossip, I seriously recommend not sharing vulnerabilities or personal information with her unless you're willing to put it out on the internet. Consider yourself warned!

3. Control Freak--Nurse Ratchet and Church Lady are the blatant Control Freaks. The subtle control freak usually, like the subtle gossip, has an agenda to control her particular dominion. This person becomes toxic as she typically forces solutions on problems which ironically create new problems. You can identify a Control Freak by a long history of fractured relationships (which are of course the other person's fault for not meeting their standards of control).

The Detox: Purifying your life of the subtle control freak requires deciding exactly where and how flexible you will be to meet her standards. Once you are absolutely sure, be firm with your boundaries and do NOT explain yourself even though you may be added to her list of fractured relationships...

4. Complainer--The subtle complainer is typically a great critical thinker and often sarcastic. You won't get a soliloquy or complain-a-thon from this friend, however their negative perspective over time is truly toxic if they are in regular contact.The subtle complainer doesn't look down to appreciate the grass under their feet and instead is looking for or at the greener grass. At the root of the complainer is an entitlement that they should have better.

The Detox: Keep the subtle complainer out of your inner circle of friends and interact with this person in larger groups only. Remember, when you are finding your glass half empty, the empty glass is full of air.

5. Midas--Midas is interested in gaining social or financial status. A subtle Midas may cause you to overspend as you are coerced to eat at restaurants out of your budget or feel impelled to "keep up with the Jones's". The subtle Midas can lead you to feel you do not have enough or even into jealously.

The Detox:  Decide upon your allowance and read Proverbs 23:1-3. If your friend can't adjust to accommodate your budget, you may want to find a new dinner buddy.

The friend you want is one who you can be natural and unguarded with. To avoid becoming a subtly toxic friend, remember it's necessary to allow others to be their true and authentic selves, especially when their views differ from your own. Often we are unable to hand a "friend" a pink slip due to the complexity of the relationship, however firm and appropriate boundaries can do the detox you need.

As an occupational therapist, “over-nourished” is the politically correct medical term I am permitted to use for a patient I suspect to be obese.  The American Medical Association considers obesity a disease; therefore, the diagnosis “obesity” must come from the doctor.  Go figure (no pun intended).    As a fitness professional I have helped hundreds of people overcome obesity and keep a healthy body mass index through the application of this simple equation:  calories burned > calorie intake.  Since I’ve helped cure this disease many times and did not inherit it from my over-nourished family, I’m going to take the risk and say obesity is not usually genetic, but is more of a self-inflicted condition caused by our own ignorance and behavior.

The child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"—from The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen

Last year I had the opportunity to sell my Christian Yoga DVD, “Perfect Peace”, at an international church summit.  I couldn’t help but notice how prevalent over-nourishment was in the Americans versus the other nationalities present.  I suppose this is reinforced with the tradition of sitting and reading as the prime spiritual activity—I was the only movement related resource among a plethora of books and music at the expo.  These enlightening resources all came out of America as well.   Our abundance of opinions can cause us to be “over-enlightened".  The work of the Christian is unique to each person’s talents and gifts.  The work of the church is to move the world to Christ.   It’s challenging to move much when we are sitting down (which is made more inviting by being over-nourished or over-enlightened).  On the mat, we release our opinions and surrender to what is; as a result we become more flexible and lean.  Let’s take a look in the mirror, try some poses and move away from over-enlightenment and over-nourishment!