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Seven Affirmations for a Peaceful Year

September 17, 2017 | by Gary Tolchinsky

How to avoid the painful arguments and hurtful remarks that harm our relationships.

As we begin the New Year, we hope to avoid the painful arguments, hurtful remarks and misunderstandings that have harmed our relationships in the past. We seek to make amends with family and friends and resolve that things will be different. This is no easy task. These affirmations can help keep us focused on what matters most.

1. I am willing to invest the time and effort to have more peaceful relationships.

Improving our relationships requires focused effort. That can entail reading books or listening to classes on the subject; discussing a conflict with an objective third party or trusted friend; learning listening skills to better relate to others. Investigate the various strategies and commit to implementing one that speaks most to you.

2. I can understand another perspective without approving it.

When we’re convinced we are in the right, it’s tempting to think it’s not necessary to understand another's perspective. But that prevents us from being open to ideas that could lead to better "win-win" outcomes. Moreover, understanding the emotional component of a disagreement is also important. As Stephen Covey wrote in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: "When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air. And after that vital need is met, you can then focus on influencing and problem solving."

3. I recognize that God may bring difficult people into my life to help me grow.

We may encounter individuals who harm us in some way. These people may be unwitting messengers to help us recognize our own flaws. As Rabbi Tzvi Freeman writes in his book, Bringing Heaven Down to Earth: "Know that all that befalls you comes from a single Source... And although this person who insulted you, or hurt you... is granted free choice for his decision to do wrong – that is HIS problem. That it had to happen to YOU – that is between you and the One Above."

4. I will treat myself with respect and compassion.

Much of the emotional baggage that exacerbates conflict may come from our own insecurities. We operate from a place of fear and self-protection. For example, if I respond to an adversary with a barrage of angry and sarcastic remarks, it could be because my ego is too fragile to admit a mistake. The angry response to the other person may just be an ineffective way of staving off those harsh voices.

5. I will be sensitive to my own and others’ state of mind.

When we or our counterpart is in a negative state of mind, our interactions are more likely to lead to a shouting match. HALT is a mnemonic reminding us to halt an interaction when feel Hungry Angry Lonely or Tired.

Except for time sensitive emergencies, waiting until both parties are in a positive mental state can mean the difference between a rational discussion and a heated argument. Just being aware of the emotional climate could make us particularly cautious during a discussion.

6. I can work to change the future while accepting the present.

Accepting a person or circumstance does not mean approving it or giving up trying to make it better. Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski has worked with alcoholics for decades and feels that their recovery offers guidance which can benefit anyone.

One passage from the Alcoholics Anonymous "Big Book" notes:

"And acceptance is the answer to ALL my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly as it is supposed to be at this moment…Unless I accept life on life's terms I cannot be happy."

7. My actions can create a more peaceful world.

It's easy to feel frustrated by global problems, be it Iran's nuclear program, terrorism, or anti-Semitism to name a few. It is up to us to take whatever practical steps we feel can change things for the better. At the same time we need to remember that ultimately our true protection comes from God.

It is not easy to change the way we relate to others but the rewards are surely worth it.

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