"Inner peace is world peace."

—Amy Rymer

All conflicts, big and small, start and end with individuals. Knowing this, you can reduce conflicts, and bring good to yourself and your entire community, if you express kindness, tolerance, and respect on a personal level each day. 

When you do this each day, you're less likely to contribute to violent thinking and behavior as part of a group, such as a family, a community, or at work.

Whether a coworker is being bullied or a country is being attacked, individuals make the choice to be violent or nonviolent.

Because of this, I believe we can use personal reflection to understand how we, as individuals, can face problems on a global level by first creating inner peace.

When we've created a sense of calm inside, it's more natural to express consistent love and kindness in our daily lives.

We're more likely to want to resolve conflicts and look for peaceful solutions as part of a group, rather than join the group in hateful behavior.

This blog is a place where I share my own experiences with difficult situations and offer helpful strategies in communication and self-awareness to help you respond in the moment with clarity and confidence. I'll also share other reflections about how to practice kindness in a world where people tell you, "You shouldn't be so nice." or "You should act tougher."

I don't believe you have to change your kind, generous, and respectful nature in order to get what you need. You can be the real you, find your voice, and handle difficult situations with ease.

Your stories of the transformations you see in others and yourselves when you practice these new tools inspire me. Your experiences hold great wisdom, and I would love to hear from you about what's working and what you're still struggling with so I can celebrate with you and support you. Send me a message on the contact page. I can't wait to hear from you!

"Inner peace is world peace."

—Amy Rymer

All conflicts, big and small, start and end with individuals. Knowing this, you can reduce conflicts, and bring good to yourself and your entire community, if you express kindness, tolerance, and respect on a personal level each day. 

When you do this each day, you're less likely to contribute to violent thinking and behavior as part of a group, such as a family, a community, or at work. 

Whether a coworker is being bullied or a country is being attacked, individuals make the choice to be violent or nonviolent.

Because of this, I believe we can use personal reflection to understand how we, as individuals, can face problems on a global level by first creating inner peace. 

When we've created a sense of calm inside, it's more natural to express consistent love and kindness in our daily lives. We're more likely to want to resolve conflicts and look for peaceful solutions as part of a group, rather than join the group in hateful behavior.

This blog is a place where I share my own experiences with conflict, offer helpful tips to resolve conflicts, and share other inspiring stories of conflict transformation—where everyday people have used love, generosity, kindness, humor, and creativity as transforming powers to resolve conflicts in everyday situations.

These stories remind us that the ability to resolve conflicts is not just for experts or professionals, but it's possible for everyone.

Do you have an inspiring story of conflict transformation that you'd like to share? Send me your story of 500 words or less to info@amyrymer.com, and I'll try to share it in an upcoming post. 

I’m a recovering perfectionist

Being a perfectionist is a pretty good thing in U.S. culture.

It means you work hard, get stuff done, and people want you to be on their team.

But the hardest thing about being a perfectionist is that you don’t see how extreme your actions can be…or how you’re actions affect other people.

Speaking as a recovering perfectionist myself, I didn’t know when to let go, be more cooperative, or adjust my plan.

These are things that I used to do:

  • I had a hard time relaxing and enjoying life (because I had to get stuff done!).
  • I wasn’t flexible or spontaneous (because it wasn’t part of the plan!).
  • I didn’t forgive myself easily, or ever (because I shouldn’t make mistakes!).
  • It was hard for me to forgive others (because they shouldn’t make mistakes either!).

I thought that if I wanted to work while everyone else was having fun, that was my choice.

But what about the friends or family who invited me out? Maybe they felt bad when I always said, “No, thanks.”

At work, if I wanted to try one more time while everyone else was ready to call it quits, I would just keep working on my own (and even liked it because I had all the control!). 

But how did the group feel about me making decisions without them?

All of these behaviors affected my relationships because it put strain on the people I cared about.

If you expect to have everything under control all the time, you’ll get impatient when other people don’t seem to have it together.

If you can’t forgive yourself when you make mistakes, your frustration will show when others make mistakes.

Now that I know how my perfectionism affected others, I’ve changed a few things.

  • I literally talk to myself after I make a mistake and say, “It’s okay. You didn’t know.” or “Don’t worry. You did your best.” I practice forgiving myself so that I can let go more easily when others make mistakes.
  • I practice saying yes to invitations from others, even when I don’t think I have time. There will always be more work to do. But when I take breaks and enjoy life, the balance that comes from that is more valuable than getting more stuff done. In fact, when I take breaks, I have more creativity and focus when I return to work.

You can do high quality work while being flexible, making mistakes, and enjoying life.

Here’s to creating more balance!

Your feelings are like a cloud

In the guided meditation I listen to, it says to observe your thoughts and feelings like the clouds that pass by on a summer day.

You watch them without any judgment as they go along. 

I was encouraging a client to see her emotions like this.

She was worried because her grandfather was in the hospital. She lives in another city and can’t be with him.

Her dad doesn’t have a good relationship with her grandfather and won’t check on him as much as she would like. She gets angry at her dad for not visiting the hospital more often, and she gets sad when she listens to her grandfather describe his physical pain when they talk on the phone.

When she feels an emotion, especially a hard one for her like anger or sadness, she acknowledges it and then watches it pass by.

If you’re willing to feel the emotion, you’ll release the tension. 

You can say to yourself, “I’m so mad right now.”

If you’re like me, you sometimes stuff your emotions and try to ignore them when you’re feeling frustrated.

You tell yourself that you shouldn’t be angry. And of course, you don’t want to be angry, so you resist the feeling.

But that creates tension in your body and your relationships. 

Instead of reacting to her anger and getting obsessed with the details of her grandfather’s caretaking and her dad’s lack of involvement, both of which she can’t quite control, my client was able to react calmly to the situation.

How to repair your strained work relationships

I know that it can feel pretty crappy to go into work each morning when you have a coworker who drives you nuts.

What if that relationship could be better?

A client of mine recently repaired a work relationship by experimenting with these six ideas:

1. Expect the best. It’s hard to change anything if you assume the other person will keep acting the same way she always has. One thing you can do without any effort at all is to start each interaction with a new assumption—that she might not act completely irrational, controlling, and crazy. Because that’s the truth. She might act the way she always has, orshe might not. So why not expect that she might not? This sounds easy, but I know it can be hard to do. Just start by saying to yourself, when you walk into work, “It’s possible that ______ (name) will be ____________ (ex: kind, open, encouraging) today.”

2. Be consistent. Don’t be nice one day and totally crazy the next. Look for opportunities every day to show kindness and respect that will build trust with your coworker. If you flip-flop from day to day, she’s not going to believe that you mean what you say when you’re trying to be cooperative. It takes humility (and sometimes lots of it) to be consistent even when she’s making you crazy. But when you do this, you’ll be more likely see a shift in your relationship with her.

3. Don’t get defensive. This has always been hard for me. When someone questions my judgment about a decision I make, I immediately want to defend myself and explain why I made the decision a certain way. This just adds to the intensity and sounds like I’m making excuses rather than really listening to what the other person is telling me. Instead of getting defensive and reacting, I could say something like this, “When you approach me this way, I feel surprised and stressed because I want to react by defending my choices. Could you please tell me your biggest concern at the moment, and I’ll give you my best understanding of the situation and my decisions?

4. Forgive yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself for being rude or frustrated with your coworker in the past. And forgive your coworker for not acting the way you want her to. Just decide to do better tomorrow.

5. Let go of your expectations. You can’t assume that just because you do these things, she is going to change. She might not know how to act differently. Or she might not want to be different. Just know that you’re doing your best to be more kind and respectful, and let go of the outcome. When you act from a place of love, it creates a transformation. You don’t have to see a clear change in the other person to believe that your new way of interacting with her has had an impact. At the very least, you can usually see a change in yourself, which is just as exciting.

6. Keep at it. Notice how you feel when you expect the best and act consistently. You feel better (and more sane), right? Keep showing her that you’re looking for a change in your relationship, through your own example, even if she continues to be negative or nasty to you. You will benefit from your new actions, and I truly believe, that with time, you’ll see a shift in her as well.

Three common fears that keep you from getting what you want

The scary thing about asking for what you want is that you don’t know what’s going to happen once you start talking.

If your fear of the unknown is holding you back from starting a conversation, here are some ways you can manage these common fears.

1. You’re worried that you’ll be too nervous or emotional.

It’s good to show your emotions. But if you get nervous, cry, or yell, this can sometimes prevent you from expressing your ideas clearly. If people can’t understand you, they’re not going to be able to help you out.

If you think you’ll get nervous or emotional, take some time to collect your thoughts. It will be easier to express yourself clearly if you know what you feel, why you feel that way, and what you want to see happen.

Click here for a technique to help you collect your thoughts.

2. You’re worried that the other person isn’t going to listen to you.

You want to be sure the other person is going to listen to what you have to say with respect and attention. If you don’t think the other person cares about what you want, you could start by trying to build more trust between you both.

Click here for an example of how to build trust.

3. Even if you ask for what you want, you worry that you still won’t get it.

After you’ve done steps one and two, you might be confused if you still don’t get what you asked for. This could be because you haven’t included the other person in making the decision. If they weren’t included, they’ll be less likely to follow through (even if they agreed to do what you asked them to do!).

Click here for an example of how to say what you want and include others in your decision.

Keep practicing! I’m supporting you!

How to respond to hatred in the world

When we see hateful and violent behavior in the world, it’s easy to wonder, “What can I do to help?”

My first response is to remember that my presence on this planet matters–I have a purpose and a place.

This helps me stay open to finding my role in response to the problem (and not react too quickly).

I also remember that we are all connected. This helps me feel responsible, without feeling overwhelmed, to respond to the problem in some way (rather than ignore it and move on).

My third response is to remind myself that my thoughts have an impact on the problems near and far.

This is where you can make a big difference. 

If you happen to believe, on some level, that your thoughts impact your own health, actions, and well-being, then you might also believe that your thoughts impact the bigger world around you.

Thoughts have energy.

Any movement towards love or hate starts with individuals having a thought and taking action.

When I see hatred out in the world, I can impact that situation by starting to bring more love and tolerance into the relationships in my daily life.

I ask myself, “How am I feeling towards the people around me today? Am I frustrated with them, and do I judge them? How can I think about them with more love, generosity, and tolerance?”

Peace starts with each individual. Every day, we’re either moving towards peace or conflict.  

I’d like to invite you to take time today to look at the people you pass on the street and in the hallway (whether it’s coworkers, strangers, or family members).

What thoughts are you sending them?

Can your independence hold you back?

I’m proud to be independent, but it became a limitation a few years ago.

I was so focused on not bothering anyone, and staying out of everyone’s way, that I was resisting so much good in my relationships.

To a coworker who offered to pay for my meal, I would say, “No-No-No! Thank you. I’ve got mine.”

When a friend offered to help me move to a new apartment, I would say, “Thanks, but it’s not a lot of stuff. I can do it.”

And one time, when my uncle offered to drive me to the airport, I kept saying, “Are you sure? I can take the train if that’s easier. I don’t mind.” (I had some huge bags!)

It’s important to know what’s good for you and to say ‘no’ to the right things. 

But when I constantly said ‘no,’ and couldn’t receive support from others, I put a strain on my relationships.

When I got to the airport with my uncle, I said, “You can drop me at the front. It’s no problem.” And he finally said, gently, “You know, Amy. When someone offers to help you, you should just trust that they really want do it.”

And that was the first time I realized that I was creating a lot of discomfort for other people when I constantly said no to their offers to help.

I was causing tension and disharmony in my relationships.

Without knowing it at the time, my independence was keeping me from having more connection and community in my life. 

The reason is that if you can do everything on your own, why do you need a community around you? You slowly start to separate yourself without even realizing it.

Now, I don’t say, “Don’t worry. I’ve got it. Thanks.”

I say, “Thank you soooo much! I would loooove that!”

I’ve moved from resistance to gratitude, and my relationships have so much less strain and much more love.

You deserve to be taken care of and supported. Say yes to all that goodness!

Do people say you’re a good listener?

If you’re like me, people are drawn to you because you’re positive, happy, and you love learning about people.

That combination probably makes you a good listener, too.

So when a friend told me that her day wasn’t going well, I was happy to listen.

The conversation ended, and she asked me how I was doing.

I just said, “Really great!”

That was the truth, but I realized that I could have shared more with her.

I’m great at listening to how other people are doing, but I don’t always share how I’m doing

And I share even less when I have a problem.

Maybe I don’t want to bother anyone, or I don’t want to focus on negative things.

But it would help my relationships to share more of my challenges and concerns.

When someone shares with me, they’re building trust with me, and if I share back, I’m doing the same thing.

But if I never share, they’ll assume that I have everything figured out, and I’ll miss the chance to get their support at a time when I might really need it.

People want to help me. I don’t have to figure out everything on my own.  

So I’ve started doing something I call a vulnerability share.

When someone shares with me, I share one thing back that I’m working on, struggling with, or proud of.

It’s a way to create more balance (listening and sharing) in my relationships.

This way, I’m open to receiving support in the same way I give it. 

Be open to finding the balance that works for you.

Are you getting ripped off?

You know that uneasy feeling when you go in for an oil change and the mechanic says you need other repairs?

You automatically want to tell him ‘no,’ right? 

Because you’re worried that he wants to rip you off.

It’s a common reaction. He’s the expert, and you’re not. And you feel like he has more control, so he’ll try to take advantage of you.

When you’re faced with a decision like that, you have two options. 

One is to assume he’s cheating you, you get defensive, and to pretend that you know more about cars than you really do.

Basically, you treat the mechanic like he’s a bad guy for wanting to help you fix your car.

The other option is to be honest with the guy about what you don’t know and humbly ask for more information.

This is a way to build a relationship with him…to build trust. 

You could say, “I’m a little surprised because I only expected to do the oil change today. Could you tell me more about the other repairs and why you think they’re necessary?”

Wouldn’t it feel better to assume that he’s telling you the truth FIRST, and then, work backwards from there to see if the repairs are necessary?

Because, let’s be honest, if he has the intention to manipulate you, he’ll probably find a way to do it.

I like to assume that people have the best of intentions. 

Then, if something happens to give me a reason to believe otherwise, I adjust.

Life can become one big ball of tension, if you assume that every person, or even every mechanic, is trying to cheat you.

If you want to go research the repairs on your own, you could say, “Can I take notes about what you’re telling me so that I can look into it? I’ll give you a call later this week if I have other questions before I make a decision.”

Use your intuition. 

If you’ve been there a couple of times, and you don’t feel like you’re building trust with the mechanic, maybe you’re right not to believe what he tells you.

Does he treat you as an equal and answer all your questions?

The mechanics that I trust the most are the ones who really want me to understand what’s happening with my car, and they’re willing to show me exactly what’s going on.

Business is not just an exchange of money. 

You start a relationship with the mechanic, plumber, or grocery store clerk in the same way as a new friend or coworker. Business is built on the same human relationships that we have in our personal lives.

If it helps, pretend that the mechanic is your partner, coworker, or neighbor. See if you can start the relationship with the mechanic the same way you build trust and start relationships with the other people in your life.

Let people feel what they’re feeling

I’m learning to get comfortable with other people’s anger.

For a long time, I was really uncomfortable when people got angry–or with any emotion that felt “intense” to me.

So, I would try to “help” people by resolving their problem as quickly as possible.

But I’ve learned that it’s really important to allow people to feel whatever they’re feeling.

In the past, I would try to solve someone’s problem in order to get rid of my discomfort as fast as possible. And once the person seemed to stop being angry, I would feel relieved.

But when you act from your own discomfort, it’s easy to force solutions on problems that need more time. 

Also, to ignore someone’s anger is not fully acknowledging them or respecting their right to express themselves fully.

We’re often taught that it’s better to deal with anger in what we consider to be a “calm” or “rational” way. But “calm” and “rational” are completely relative to each person, and there isn’t only one way to deal with anger.

Two people can say they’re being “calm,” even if they act in very different ways.

So when you see that someone is angry, the just ask that person how you can best support them in that moment.

You can just support them without any expectation–without looking for a certain outcome, such as to help them “feel better” or “calm down”.

Someone might tell you that you could support her by:

  • Just listening.
  • Giving her time to be alone and “be mad.”
  • Telling her you love her.
  • Looking for solutions.
  • NOT looking for solutions.
  • Reminding her to do something that she has told you will calm her down.

I’m aware of the resistance I have when I see someone “getting excited.” So, instead of “helping” them with solutions, and ignoring their anger, I breath deeply and really listen to what they’re saying.

To show I’m listening, I repeat back what I hear them saying about the facts and emotions. 

For example, “It sounds like you’re really mad (that’s the emotion) because I was late to pick you up yesterday (that’s the fact).”

Try using their words whenever you can because it will make them feel more heard than if you tame it down with your own.

Keep practicing, and expect the best!

What to do when you can’t address a problem right away

Sometimes you don’t get a chance to address a conflict when it’s convenient for you.

Recently, I wanted to talk to a neighbor about a misunderstanding, but we kept missing each other. 

I was waiting until it was convenient for both of us because we usually see each other in passing.

By the end of the week, though, the issue was still weighing on my mind because I hadn’t cleared it up yet.

Instead of keeping the stress and tension to myself, I decided to call a good friend (who happens to be another neighbor).

I usually like to address issues right when they come up, but that doesn’t always happen.

What amazed me after sharing the problem with my friend is that the negativity and tension in my mind and body totally disappeared. I didn’t think about the issue at all over that weekend.

And I realized how helpful it is to talk about my problems. 

I usually keep them to myself, or I let it go, because I think it’s not that important.

Now, I know that if something is still on my mind, it’s probably a sign that it’s more important than I thought.

So, if you can’t address a problem right away, for whatever reason, it’s okay to be patient and give it more time. 

Instead of forcing a conversation, or stressing about the fact that it hasn’t happened yet, you can wait for the resolution to unfold.

And it will. 

It might not happen as soon as you’d like, but the answers will come because you have good intentions. You’re open to talking about the misunderstanding, and you’re expecting the best.

So if you need support, call a friend who cares about you and is willing to listen. 

You can even ask her to support you in this specific way.

“Something’s on my mind, and I think I just need to talk about it out loud. I think I know what I should do, but I haven’t done it yet. If I talk about it with you, I might be able to get rid of some of the tension I’m feeling. I just need you to listen and support me. Is it okay if I tell you about it?”

After I told my friend about my situation, she helped me see the bigger picture, made me feel normal for being concerned, and encouraged me to do what I already felt was the right thing to do. 

Since I told her how she could support me, she was able to give me just what I needed–a chance to share what I was dealing with and get some encouragement to move forward.

© 2015 AMY RYMER