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Doing Things We Do Not Like To Do.

September 3, 2016

It is human nature not to want to do things we don’t like to do.

I, for instance, don’t particularly enjoy eating/not eating in accordance with certain dietary restrictions, taking medication and/or exercising frequently.

But I have come to terms with this regimen because of my heart condition.

And I know that it is bad for me to do otherwise.

And so I do what I must do.

It occurs to me also that some people do not like to settle their disputes even though it may also be bad for them not to do so.

Here are some of my perceptions as to why I think people dislike settling:

The dispute gives them purpose. Some disputants must prove themselves right and the other person wrong and the forum in which to do so is the legal battle in court or arbitration, not in settlement.

The dispute is exciting. It gives some people a rush of adrenaline or some other stimulant. I think this is the old “fight or flight” response at work, with people choosing the former over the latter.

The dispute gives them something to do. There is much activity in litigation, gathering witnesses and evidence, shoring up one’s side of the case, trying to disprove the other side’s case. It is a focus in which people can spend a lot of time and energy and it gets people going.

The dispute gives them something to talk about. Endless conversations at cocktail parties, among friends, and so on, are filled with the vituperation and justification that pervades the disputant’s consciousness.

The dispute is safe. People feel victimized by the others involved in the dispute. Thinking and talking about it gives people a chance to excuse themselves from responsibility and/or seek and receive empathy or sympathy in response.

One of the most difficult questions for these disputants is this, and I ask it in many mediations:

“Will you be able to let go of the conflict and move on with your life?”

Sometimes the answer is “no.”

However, sometimes it is “yes” if they realize how they have become dependent on it and the harm it is doing.

The trick is to get them to realize their dependence on the dispute and how it is bad for them.

Maybe this phrase is attributable to the Buddha or to other sources, but I do say this sometimes to underscore the harm in continuing the dispute:

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die from it.”

Sometimes that gets their attention, and with their new realization, sometimes they can come to terms with the dispute and resolve it … just as I have come to terms with my heart condition and I do something about it.

Sometimes we simply have to do things that we do not want to do.


David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at .


From → Mediation

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