March 16, 2013

Your Energy and The Heart of Conflict Resolution.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

Each of us has a predominant energy management style which usually surfaces early in life. Learning to recognize our own style allows us to make conscious choices and develop strategies for skills enhancement. Equally, becoming adept at observing other people’s styles is key to devising a successful conflict resolution strategy.

While one style tends to predominate we can switch or moderate styles depending on the context.

Let’s look at some energy management styles:

The Energy Blocker
As the name suggests The Blocker is masterful at keeping out any energy that may seem threatening. The object of the game from this perspective is defense at all costs: no one gets access to one’s emotional field because being vulnerable makes one feel weak and no one gets access to what we really think because we can be defeated by cleverer minds. To make sure no one outwits us or gets through our protective armor we use a wide variety of tactics to block ideas or feelings.

This is energy that can be either obvious or very subtle, that pretends to ignore or feign ignorance; that claims not to comprehend even the obvious; that does not have time to deal with what has been put in front of it; that comes up with irrelevant solutions; that demands impossible conditions, or asks for more time to study. Blockers can be extremely covert in manipulating conflict or so subtle about avoidance that they delude themselves into thinking they are not resorting to blocking strategies but actually being virtuously circumspect. Blockers survive by being passive aggressive.

The Energy Bouncer
Like the defensive strategy of the person who blocks any energy perceived to be threatening The Bouncer keeps anything from entering their fortress of defenses. The difference between them is that while The Blocker is passive aggressive The Bouncer uses mainly overt dominance and aggression strategies. Any energy that The Bouncer sees as a violation of their territorial space is sent back to the sender at twice the velocity. The object of the game is to flatten, intimidate or silence the other. Naturally this tends to be a blunt style resorting to primal and instinctive behaviors such as loud tones, invasion of personal space, challenging the other’s credibility and motivation or falling back on hierarchy and authority. But The Bouncer can also take the form of cynical needling, moral or intellectual superiority and disdain. There is a lot of hot air, right v wrong, name calling and accusation in this energy management profile.

The Energy Sponge
Instead of putting up impenetrable defenses like Blockers and Bouncers, The Sponge leaves the door open and allows almost any kind of energy which accepts possible blame or tangential responsibility to take up residence. This starts as an orientation that wants to do anything to help but quickly becomes over-freighted with taking on too much. The Sponge energy management style lacks self-protective boundaries and can devolve into being identified as exploited or victimized. In fact, the victim narrative can predominate with this style. At its most extreme there is an emotionally saturated perspective that dramatizes hurt, impotence and fatalism.

The Energy Zapper
The Energy Zapper is always trying to soften the blow. The name of the game here is “Let’s try to make things as painless as possible. In fact, let’s sweeten it up and just avoid conflict.” Pain avoidance leads to elaborate distraction routines, fictional solutions or bald fantasy scenarios. Energy zapping can take the form of food bingeing, drugs or alcohol but it can also simply be consumed by efforts to tamp down what appears to be volatile energy by appearing to be nice and agreeable.


I have deliberately exaggerated each of these four energy processing styles so that we can see various tendencies in more dramatic profile. Each style can run the gamut of extremely obvious to very subtle indeed. Most of us do a pretty good job of camouflaging our own energy management approaches. Observing our own and other people’s styles will help us devise conflict resolution interactions which consciously strategize more effective communication based on dealing with this often unacknowledged reality.
So what is a healthy energy management style? What approach can we cultivate to facilitate conflict resolution?

The Energy Transformer
The Energy Transformer actively engages with what is before trying to change it. This requires the avoidance of both passivity and aggression. Being direct may feel aggressive to some but if modelled in an atmosphere of encouraged reciprocity it will create a dynamic context for truthful exchange. The truth can be painful and so pain cannot be avoided. Raw emotion is seen as energy which must be given permission if it is to be transformed into constructive energy or directed towards reconciliation. If raw energy- as raw emotion- is unwanted or deemed ugly the resolution process will be stillborn. Setting the context for growth is the organizing principle of this energy management approach: anything that subverts self-development is seen as compromising good process.
Accepting that we cannot grow without emotional vulnerability is essential but this does not mean simply opening up wounds or permitting attack behaviors. Energy transformers have a keen sense of the difference between emotionally difficult environments which have a gravitational pull towards opening and which will lead to closing down or re-traumatizing people. This sense arises from mature relational capacities that are both empathic and non-judgmental.

Healing is not ritualized as a tactic to get to desired outcomes, it is given full allowance to head where it wants to go. As cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien notes, “Healing does not occur in the fast lane.”

Let’s face it, if we are not growing some significant part of us is being stifled or deadened. Energy transformation makes a commitment best reflected in the adage: “Let the bitter be bitter and the sweet be sweet. Until the bitter and the sweet are one.” Only then can we experience the energy of wholeness. And that is an energetic state of being worth having as a goal.

James O’Dea author Cultivating Peace: Becoming a 21st Century Peace Ambassador.

Write Your Comment

  1. esscee

    Thankyou for an explicit view of how we function energetically - The Silent Language - strangely I identify myself as even from very early in life as a Blocker and a Bouncer putting teachers and the like on notice - I still recognised those traits, yet when I read `The Sponge` I brought tears to my eyes - I guess still learning and importantly - growing. A thought prevoking piece - thanks so much!

  2. heartfulSoul

    In training I`ve received, I learned an inner emotional tolerance, a space wherein a thoughtful, considered response can emerge amid a negative high-energy ("activated") state. So, it looks like that might be still another style of `energy management`. It`s not so much being an energy "transformer", but knowing constructive energy can coexist with a negative one. -- hS

  3. Anna Ingólfsdóttir

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