Possibility Mediation: Using Conflict as Gold to Transform into Possibilities
“If nothing changes, I will leave you”, she said.
They had been a couple for 20 years, and married for more than a decade. Now they were at a crossroad in their relationship. That is why they ended up in this Possibility Laboratory. Standing facing each other, putting their “poop on the table”. Both of them committed to feeling their anger, their fear, their sadness, and their joy. Both of them committed to radical responsibility.
Five women standing behind her, holding space, coaching her. Five men standing behind him, holding space, coaching him. An archetypal space emerged, grown out of their conflict and commitment to evolution. They were held and supported by the village of men and women committed to their commitment. Power was reclaimed, shadows were owned, new agreements were made.
The image of the village holding space for a couple to address their relationship issues energised me, touched me deeply, and filled me with joy. I had tasted what becomes possible when conflict is transformed in a totally different way than I had ever experienced before.
This was the puzzle piece I had been looking for.
A few years before this event I had thrown my legal career away:
Almost 2 decades of studying law in Germany and London, working as an academic at the university, legal training in Luxembourg, Paris, and Germany, getting a doctorate in law, joining a big law firm, representing in court, advising large corporations, working as a corporate counsel for a large stock corporation, appearing in court again and again, and negotiating international projects in Brussels. These years had left me tired on many levels. It didn’t make sense to spend my waking life time like that. Actually, more than that: it hurt.
The classical legal system may be designed to assign clear responsibilities. It is very often (ab)used to avoid responsibility: How do I interpret the wording of the law to my benefit? How do I tell my story so that the judge will believe me and not the other? I remember how my mentoring partner at the law firm used to advise me: “You’ve got to convince the judge that your client is the ‘old granny’.” (ie the innocent one that needs to be protected by the law, the victim of the situation). He was right according to the rules of the game. It is a low drama game. It is all about being right.
In a culture where the majority of adults are at the level of childhood responsibility, and a legal system is designed to deal with that, what do you expect? We live in the underworld for the larger part. Our culture promotes shadow principles like, being right, profit and competition as the highest good. This is “the Good Place”, our demon designed and man-made hell.
The court system offers a protection whereby parties can turn to an objective third person for their final decision. It means they give their centres away; the judge or jury will decide for them. It’s not all that different from young children turning to their parents or kindergarten teacher for judgment (only much more elaborate).
Sometimes that may be necessary. And what if it was necessary only in 1% of the cases? What if people could transform their conflict into possibilities for collaboration, for creativity, for intimacy, for abundance?
Most legal systems include the possibility for mediation. Such mediation can be truly beneficial and create useful results for both parties.
The difference between modern mediation approaches and possibility mediation is, first and foremost, the context of radical responsibility. Radical responsibility, from a new perspective, means acknowledging that we live in a responsible universe. We cannot not create results. When we accept radical responsibility, we move away from blame and burden to being the source, and to creativity.
What it takes is a willingness to feel. Starting with the pain of not feeling, then feeling it all. The fear, the anger, the sadness, the joy. The willingness to not look good for the benefit of greater intimacy. Being ready to acknowledge your own part in a conflict. Taking a radical new perspective.
“It takes two to quarrel, but only one to end it.” (Matthew Prior)
I’ve lived in New Zealand for the past 4 years and have come across a Māori elder, a “Kaumātua”. He is an oral historian, he holds the stories of the land. He also speaks with spirit, and the “atuas”, the Gods and ancestors. He keeps repeating to me what he heard from a navigational God who had brought his ancestors to this part of the world: That we are now in the Global Age of the family. This is about collaboration.
When I think of new ways of conflict transformation, maybe that is why I am so drawn by the idea of a village. We’ve done the individualistic approach long enough. It is time to remember the power of the collective.
“With my basket and your basket, the village is fed”, says a Māori proverb.
Bringing our baskets together to hold space for conflict transformation, creating possibility out of conflict, feeds the village.
My vision is a team of spaceholders to facilitate situations of conflict, to navigate to radical responsibility. They will help you identify the core of the conflict, like mining the gold out of the mountain. They will help you to liquidify this gold so that it can take a new shape. Endless possibilities emerge.
Are you ready to get liquid?
You can book me for a free introductory mediation session.
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