Forgive Yourself for Seeming Selfish

This month, we’ve been focusing on Choice #1: Forgive Yourself for Having Conflicts, which is one of the Seven Choices from my book, DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master. It’s almost comical (although sometimes very painful) how God, the universe, or life will bring us opportunities to practice what we say we want to focus on. January has brought me more conflicts that I need to forgive myself for. One of them is the conflict between what my family wants, expects, or demands of me versus my decision to stay in New York City, where I have built The Law Studio and a relatively happy life.

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During a recent trip to visit my mother, a family friend–who had just adamantly opposed the idea of leaving her home–asked me when I was moving back to Louisville. Her husband asked me when my long-term partner was going to be “more than a boyfriend”. I was offended at first. Then, I chose to assume they just miss me and want what they think is best for me, even if it is not what I want.

On my drive back to my mother’s house that night, I wished I had said Peter already is more than a boyfriend to me and that I would return to Kentucky as soon as the United Nations approves the move from NYC! I’m glad I am slow with my sass, as it might have made a minor conflict a major one.

I love being ICERM‘s Main Representative to the UN. I’m starting my second year in this position and still have volumes to learn, but I am thrilled to be where I can learn from some of the top peacemakers in the world (who are also still learning). My family doesn’t understand why I choose this life over living where I no longer have deep roots and where my memories are often painful, if not disabling. It’s a conflict that occasionally severs me from my more empowered, effective self, and I don’t yet know how to resolve it.

I am embarrassed to admit that. No training, education, or experience will make all conflicts disappear. That is, in part, why I work with ICERM and the UN. I’m in a long game for humanity, which of course, includes my family. I’ve seen what can happen to people struggling to survive, not at the levels of the people in war-torn areas, but I’ve seen the poverty in Eastern Kentucky, Mississippi, Upstate New York, New York City, and some non-tourist areas of several countries. I’m still trying to understand how we can live in such an abundant world, yet distribute its resources–from food and water to love and fairness–so unevenly.

Sometimes, the only way to resolve conflicts is to listen for awhile. This is what I will be doing at many of the UNCSocD56 events that I build around my court, client, and travel schedule over the next two weeks. I forgive myself for not having all of the answers yet, and I make Choice #2: I acknowledge myself for taking action, however small, especially when the conflict seems so large that it can’t be resolved. I might feel resigned at times, but I will not choose resignation. I might rest. I might listen and observe. But I will not stop permanently, until my last breath. I’ll even go beyond then, if I can!

Will you? What small step can you take this week to pull yourself out of resignation and back into your big game? Do you need help or support, encouragement or guidance? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Nance L. Schick, Esq. was trained in mediation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (“ICERM”). In her current law practice, she mediates business, employment, and ethno-religious conflicts. She also serves as ICERM's Main Representative to the United Nations. She has coached new mediators for the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts MediateArt program and the New York University Mediation Apprenticeship Program, and she is author of a book, DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master, which uses mediation techniques to help readers resolve various conflicts. In law school, Nance studied mediation, experienced it to a limited degree as a litigant, and represented the University at Buffalo in two ABA Mediation Advocacy Competition rounds.