Happier Solutions To Our Troublesome Conflicts

Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 7 August 2016.
By John Abbate.

In this address, Dr Macnab examines the topic of human conflict, and the difficulty we have in managing our everyday frustrations. He begins by outlining several common sources of frustration.

Frustrations

  1. Interpersonal frustration – people behaving badly
  2. Institutional frustration – the systems and hierarchies, the people within them, that seem to block our pathways to reasonable goals
  3. The self-imposed frustrations – negative beliefs about ourselves, our habits and the loss of harmonious spirit
  4. Existential frustration – life itself, filled with existential ennui and anxiety; the gap that we feel within.

“From these frustrations, anxiety and conflict are never far away,” said Dr Macnab. There is no easy solution. Each frustration is loaded with feelings, memories, moods and beliefs. “It is inevitable that we cope with our frustrations in bits and pieces.”

How do we cope with frustration when it involves other people? We can turn on them, fight, or flee. When neither fight nor flight will work, we might “take a position of impacted fear.”

Theology – an unlikely way to cope?

The theologian, Paul Tillich, proposed a new form of theology for everyday life. Dr Macnab calls it an inductive, as opposed to a deductive, way of doing theology. The major difference is that the former, inductive method, correlates with our everyday life, while the latter, deductive method (as it has been traditionally applied), is imposed on us.

Coping resources

Frustration is a reality of our existence. It can’t be simply dismissed. There are, however, several resources that can help us cope.

  1. Inner-strength to aid with the containment of frustration
  2. A structured belief system that reinforces a positive way of coping with difficult, frustrating situations
  3. Interpersonal resources and support; our relationships with other people
  4. Positive energy to lift us out of our past fixations and powerlessness. Hope is one such powerful, rejuvenating form of energy.

Just as there are some basic, existential frustrations, there are some basic, existential strengths to carry us through.

Happier Solutions

  1. Listen for the bell that tolls, calling you to a better focus.
  2. Cultivate positive self-strengths.
  3. Strive for a quieter, more contained mind that will increase your tolerance and decrease your emotional reactions.
  4. Be aware that your concern with immediate frustrations may be a distraction from what is most important in your life.
  5. Finally, find satisfaction. There may be satisfaction, for example, in the fact you able to bring happier solutions to your everyday frustrations.

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