By Angie Martell
While the average human being processes approximately 60,000 thoughts daily, it is said that 75 percent of these messages are often negative. These negative directives have the potential to harm us and limit us from finding our true potential. Yet, controlling the negative thoughts is not easy. Why are we busy thinking the very things we say we don’t want?
To eradicate our negative thoughts, we have to take steps to allow more positive thoughts in. When these negative or judgmental thoughts arise, we need to stop ourselves and ask, “Who does that belong to?” When you stop owning the negative thoughts and stop reacting to them, they are no longer yours, and there are no limits to your ability to create positivity for yourself.
As a holistic lawyer, I often see how negative thoughts can escalate legal cases and how they can lie hidden while these legal issues become more damaging to everyone involved. One example, in family law and divorce, is when couples feel unsupported and misunderstood. Their hearts harden, they become angry, and their cases spiral out of control. Sometimes, these couples do not want divorce but feel overwhelmed by all the issues confronting them, such as their finances, their children’s special needs, and the lack of communication between them. Their choices and actions are often formed in the heat of the moment without an eye for the future.
To help prevent these negative thoughts and subsequent hostility from dictating the course of action and to help create positive results in a plethora of legal matters, some courts and holistic practitioners have turned to Native American peacekeeping practices called “Peacekeeping Courts” to help parties navigate through their dispute resolution. We have an example of this here in Washtenaw County, as Judge Timothy Connors spearheaded the implementation of a Peacemaking Court last fall that works with a variety of cases to improve outcomes for individuals and families going through difficult matters.
Peacemaking focuses on healing relationships by providing a safe environment where people can talk together to resolve their conflicts by adopting a community-based process that addresses the concerns of all interested parties.
As a holistic lawyer, I believe that the Peacekeeping Circle, often referred to as a “talking circle,” can be part of the restorative model for healing in the legal system. Peacemaking is a non-adversarial empowering of all affected parties, whether it's a criminal case, domestic case, or a general litigation matter. Peacekeeping Circles help participants reflect on past behaviors, take responsibility for their actions, and understand how others are affected by their behaviors. Peacemaking allows individuals to work collaboratively to determine appropriate solutions that meet everyone’s needs -- not only the aggrieved person’s.
Peacemaking is a very old concept that has been in use for decades, but it is relatively new to how we practice law. As a holistic lawyer, I aim to incorporate peacemaking into my daily life. I remind myself of the ten essential steps toward healing for any conflict I encounter:
10 Key Healing Steps in Peacemaking:
- Be open and not judgmental and remove your negative prompters
- Listen compassionately and deeply
- Love – Do not pity for this takes a person’s power and pushes them down on an energetic level
- Have the courage to accept and be responsible – find the common ground
- Acknowledge the energy you put out – acknowledge the toxicity of your words
- Be authentic and honest – find your truth
- Communicate compassionately
- Trust and Forgive
- Humility – Removing the ego
In finding peace, may you be filled with the strength, endurance, and love to face any challenge life may bring, and use it to expand your understanding and compassion for yourself and others, and in doing so may you heal yourself.
Angie Martell is an attorney, mediator, Shaman Practitioner, and Reiki Master with the law firm Iglesia Martell in Ann Arbor. She has a general practice that specializes in holistic law, divorce and family law, mediation, criminal defense, estate planning and elder law, LGBT issues, business law, and employee rights.