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  • Writer's pictureBess de Boer

Keep Your Gaze on the Wounded Place




This quote from Rumi speaks profoundly to the cornerstone of my work in resolving difficult conflict: finding the wound in people and keeping my gaze focused there.


Knowing, that it's the portal for light to enter.


Knowing, that it’s the place from where solutions come. From where healing can happen.


This approach comes from a deep understanding, gained through experience in this work, that there are no villains, despite what the facts point to.


There are only wounds that drive people to act villainously. These wounds have many faces. They come disguised behind many masks.


In three decades of dealing with conflict, I’ve not found an exception to this truth.


It’s the wounded that wound, because they’re broken.


They are running scripts of fear and pain beneath the narrative of the facts they cling to.


Once we understand this truth… once we can really own it… everything shifts. We begin to see the other’s actions from a very different place.


This doesn’t mean we excuse their actions, or not seek to remedy the loss or pain they’ve caused us.


What it means is that we understand that this is where our work needs to begin, if we want to truly resolve the conflict, rather than redistribute material losses and remain enemies.


That’s the place, in Rumi’s words, where ‘we need to keep our gaze’. That’s ‘where the light enters’. We can only fix something that’s broken, when we focus on its break… seeking to find a way to mend it – to heal the wound it left behind.







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