The Dilemmas that we experience on a daily basis vary from deep Dilemmas fueled by a principal Burden that gets in our way to ordinary linear decisions that we are challenged to reach.
There is the tendency to inflate our problems sometimes due to the emergency feelings that we encounter. Simply getting to a certain, simple task can throw us off temporarily. A comment by your spouse gets under our skin. Asking for what you want brings up feelings of being unwanted/uncared for.
Yet, as I read my 365 Tao Meditation book today, “problems” confront us at different levels. Ming-Dao postulates that problems are a Puzzle, an Obstacle or Entanglement. A puzzle “needs only to be analyzed carefully.” There is really no entrapment in feelings per se, just something to be unraveled. Unwinding a spool of yarn can be a simple “problem.”
An Obstacle “must be overcome.” Ming-Dao says that, “We must use force and/or perseverance to either destroy or move away from what is blocking us.” It can be an impersonal or personal obstacle. Notice here that deeper feelings become more relevant and perhaps a notable relationship can be at stake. Here we are entering into decision-making that defines a Dilemma. Either one chooses to approach/attack or avoidance/perseverance.
Now the next “problem” Ming-Dao defines is a more exotic one-an “Entanglement mires us in a maze of limitations.” Thus, an Entanglement mirrors for us what confronts us when we are in our “Mars in retrograde” type of day. We feel limited in a lose-lose situation and it appears that our options are limited. Relationships are by their nature complex.
First of all, it might be helpful to distinguish what type of problem we are facing. Often we tend to make a “mountain out of a mole hill” and the entanglement might be best served by first seeing the provoking moment as more of a “puzzle.” Now this might be dependent on just how much you have learned by extricating yourself from personal dilemmas.
So? “I have been here before. Did my typical strategy work with this dilemma then?” If it did, you might simply untangle it like a “puzzle.” The tendency, however, is to get stuck in the feeling state which the situation provokes. And then there is an inclination to overcome the adversity of the situation. We all have a desire to WIN and not lose. It becomes an internal or external competition to win. So you put your chips down on trying to gain an advantage.
This is particularly relevant in our country today. We do get mired in an elaborate maze of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t. “I can’t afford to let THEM get away with it.” “I’ve got to teach them a lesson.” “If I don’t act/demonstrate now, our government will be destroyed.” So when you mired in a Dilemma, it can feel like doomsday.
This is why at P2SW we literally preach to be seriously cautious about the decision to Withdraw, Attack or Defend (the WAD theory). Once we feel an “entanglement,” we either want to defend ourselves – “You don’t understand me,” or “I’m sick tired of your antics and you need to take a look at yourself,” or internally, “I would like to knock the crap out of…,” or sulking away and distancing one’s self.
So what do you do? Perhaps, first, break the situation down into whether it is a Puzzle, an Obstacle or Entanglement. It is likely that most folks go right to the Entanglement (not that the Problem may be of paramount importance) but people, them, of course, ha, not us, typically over-react and won’t respond as to what the situation calls for. In fact, you might want to ask yourself, “What does this situation (not my feelings) call for?” – to create some emotional distance. One needs to see Dilemmas from both sides. Getting triggered happens to everyone way too much.
Then we go into an Empathic Reflective Listening mode. That is, we honor the antagonist by reciting what they are requesting of us. Take responsibility for your/my part. And then listen further. (Again, the It’s Not About the Nail YouTube video illustrates this process up until the man says, “If you would only…”) When it comes down to it, we all have our issues. Every day we/you will be confronted and triggered by someone who replicates some earlier creator who was the origin of our Burdens.
You need to question on which side do you stand – the probability of approach/attacking or avoiding/defending. Now here is where finding your Spiritual Path is paramount. The other person, the so-called enemy is a spiritual being as well. The challenge we face is discovering not only our spiritual nature but theirs as well. It’s not a “mountain or mole hill” but a spiritual moment.