We all want the same things. Conflict only occurs when we think there’s only one way to get those things – and that we need to make someone give it to us.

This morning’s page. I was feeling churned up, processing a conversation that I’d had with someone at work yesterday.

I didn’t have as much time as I wanted this morning. Still, I wanted to let something flow onto paper. Some creativity and care and release so I could trust myself to feel safe with whatever comes up in the office today.

I grabbed the water colours and a piece of paper and started brushing on some colour.
Then my phone beeped.

My daughter texted me a video.

She’s away on holidays with another family. It was a video of whales she’d seen on a walk. They were close to the shore you could hear the water spouting out. In the background, I heard the girls saying “ohhhh!”

A smile broke across my face, sharing the delight of hearing people marvel at beauty and life and precious moments.

“We all want the same things,” is the thought that came to me. With that surge of delight for my daughter and the water and the whales and the awe of the crowd —  I suddenly felt tender towards my workmate.

She and I want the same thing – at a truly human level. Sure, we were at odds about how to get those things. But we’re human and we want the same basic things: safety, support, understanding, respect, for everyone to matter, ease, nurture, to love and be loved, peace-of-mind, food, water, choice …

She, like me, wants our children to be safe and free to swim – as the mother whale with her calf.

She, like me, wants our children to be able to appreciate beauty and wonder at the world, and safe to walk together and discover life.

We all want to be at ease and enjoy our lives.

The whales arrived on the page.

I went out into my day connected to the longing for us to find understanding, and tender for the pain that we must have both been in when we spoke yesterday.

A little gift of wisdom had come together on the page: that I want to encounter anyone I meet with the hope that it’s possible for us to connect with the things we both need.

I’d rather hold that hope, and mourn when it’s not met, than despair.

We learn, we grow, we-reconnect.

I guess it’s also a learning for me about how it’s helpful to consciously savour and enjoy the pleasurable events in my day. Receiving that video, playing it, smiling … It opened up a new space in my heart that feels closer to the peace and joy I’d love to have more of, more often.

And I’m sure that’s how my workmate would love to feel too.

I invite myself to walk away sooner. At the first surge of defensiveness or anger. I celebrate that I’ve noticed, in hindsight at least, that staying on the call wasn’t effective.

“Hey, I’m going to take a break from this conversation. We’ll work this out.”

And go. Don’t ask. Go. I’m in charge of my choice about whether I stay and listen – if I’m willing in that moment. I trust that we’ll understand each other eventually, and if we’re both worked up – the body needs time to physiologically calm down.

At the same time, I give myself understanding for why I stayed. I was wanting to connect and I was also wanting to be received for my own intentions, and to have choice and respect. I fell into my habitually learned response of believing that it mattered what she thought of me. I’m wanting to have more of the freedom and pleasure that comes from hearing any message as an opportunity to connect.

I’m sad because I aspire to be able to hear all words and actions from another human being as “please” or “thankyou”. I’d love to feel within myself that I am safe to listen … Or free to choose to gently take a break.

Other people’s criticism is their pain.

I’m thinking of this quote …


Yes, hearing criticism might bring up fear in me if I think someone has power to punish me in some way. I probably have good reasons for thinking they will. They could: by excluding me, or preventing me from getting a pay rise or a promotion or from saying things about me to others that make it harder for me to be heard when I want to influence change. I am tender with my vulnerability. And, still, I want to grow my capacity to listen with compassion to anything another human being says or does. Walking away earlier might have been the smartest way to achieve that. Ah well, it’s all learning. I celebrate awareness & growth & freedom to learn.

Meanwhile, I’m going to lap up those lovely whales and connect to the needs we all share: space, freedom, beauty, safety, joy, ease, time to hang out with each other without deadlines!