I have tagged 2 blog posts with conflict-resolution:

From Icy Windows to Icy Fears: Navigating the Chills of Public Speaking and Global Conflict

A speaker standing bravely on stage, facing a large, intimidating crowd – frowning but determined.
Kaia Thonul, Wednesday, November 15, 2023, 08:16

As icicles form on the outside of my train window and the landscape wears the fresh cloak of an early winter, I find my mind steering away from the frosty views. I have recently been wrestling with a thought that induces a deep, paralyzing dread in the hearts of many, a particularly dominant fear that haunts our dreams and trails our wakeful hours - the fear of public speaking.

No words seem to capture the sheer terror of having numerous pairs of eyes fastened on you, awaiting your thoughts, your words. Your hands tremble, sweat begins to coat your skin, your heart pounds in your chest as if trying to wrangle free from its confinements. You can almost feel your credibility, your reputation hanging in the balance...yet overcoming this fear is as pressing and as challenging as surviving a bitter Norwegian winter.

These thoughts were stirred up in the chill of the morning as I read through a news article. A world away from freezing Norway, a different kind of chill is descending - not from the cold but from conflict. Those distant from the horror can only read and imagine the growing dread and desperation of trapped civilians, their homes in ashes, their tomorrows uncertain.

Such scenarios of fear and terror, be it standing on a stage or in the midst of conflict, seem worlds apart. Yet they have an unusual similarity - they are both fears that can be overcome; one by sheer determination and strength of character, the other by the collective will of nations to impose peace over war.

The key to mastering fears is understanding the fear itself. To go beyond the surface, to delve deeper into the underbelly of this dreaded feeling is a step towards overcoming it. In public speaking, the fear exists before and during the speech, but dissipates when the ordeal is over. Similar, in an eerie way, to the clamour of conflict - where fear permeates before and during the terror, but would cease when peace prevails.

Striding towards the stage of public speaking, it is essential to take a step back and analyse this fear. Dissect it, familiarise yourself with it, know it inside and out. Only then can you tackle it head on. Use your fear as a weapon, as fuel. Let the fear of messing up propel you to prepare better. Let the fear of stuttering inspire you to practice more. Transform this intimidating negative into a motivational positive.

Just as the turmoil in the Middle East solicits us to introspect, to evaluate the consequences of war over dialogue, similarly the fear of public speaking compels us to seek out our weaknesses and work on them. To grow, to learn and to evolve into better versions of ourselves.

As my train pulls into the station at Oslo, I'm left with the stark realization that fear, be it of public speaking or of a volatile situation, can only be mended by facing it, head on. Beneath the canvas of a gloomy morning, hope stubbornly persists: for there's always spring following the harshest of winters, and there is growth waiting beyond a nerve-wrecking speech. Real strength, I believe, lies in accepting our fears, facing them, and finding a way to brave them, whether on a stage addressing an audience or in a conflict-ridden land searching for peace.

Tags: public speaking overcoming fear conflict resolution

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Morning Reflections on the Oslo Express: A Journey of Acceptance and Forgiveness

A young man gazes out a train window, a newspaper open to the Gaza report, a look of deep thought.
Kaia Thonul, Wednesday, November 8, 2023, 09:32

The subtle hum of the train against the tracks has become my daily soundtrack, a constant companion on these early mornings when the still world slowly wakes from its slumber. With each passing day, my journey to the university from my home near Oslo turns into a progressively brighter tapestry as I look at the seeming starkness of -2 degrees Celsius from a different perspective. As I step onto the train and find my usual seat, I appreciate the snippets of humanity around me—perhaps finding comfort in the predictability, in the shared tranquility of a group of strangers bound by one common goal.

Today, my musings are steered towards a powerful read from my morning dose of the Aftenposten. It highlighted the ongoing crisis in Gaza, particularly concerning Israeli forces and Hamas. The report painted a stark reality of the escalating conflict that has become a battleground of dominance. Concurrently, it swelled in me the overwhelming sense of the balance that we strive to achieve in our lives and society, the precarious equilibrium between acceptance and forgiveness.

We often utter the phrase, 'agree to disagree,' a cornerstone of acceptance, but it may render fruitless if not applied sincerely. Acceptance, in its truest form, is about embracing the existence of difference, not merely tolerating it. It isn't about agreeing with the other person's perspectives, but about acknowledging that they have the right to hold those views. We cannot always control how things unfold around us, let alone on an international scale. However, what we can manage is how we react to it. And that reaction should start with acceptance, an understanding that there are multiple narratives, multiple truths.

It made me ponder over our consistent underestimation of forgiveness. The duality of the conflict reflected in the news mirrors the struggles we face daily. The power of forgiveness can often be our saving grace. Imagine the universal harmony we could foster if forgiveness was extended on a larger scale. Yet the concept seems pressure-laden, filled with burdensome preconceptions that it means acquiescing to wrongdoings or ignoring the pain that was inflicted.

In essence, forgiveness isn't synonymous with forgetting; rather, it's about freeing ourselves from the shackles of past transgressions, providing us a clean slate to sketch the new beginnings. The person bearing the brunt of an unforgiven action often ends up being the person unable to forgive, for it snatches away their serenity, entrapping them in a cycle of negativity.

And so, as the Oslo scenery races past the frost-kissed train window, I find myself gaining a better understanding of humanity's complexities. Both acceptance and forgiveness are difficult journeys, each with their unique bends and potholes. They demand patience, understanding, and compassion, a continuous moving forwards towards a better tomorrow. But perhaps it's these qualities that truly define us and distinguish humans from other species—our ability to think, feel, and grow.

There's much work to be done at the university today; assignments to submit, classes to attend, but as we come into the city's station, I'm grateful. Grateful for these moments of quiet introspection amidst constant academia, where societal issues blend seamlessly with my own reflections, teaching me lessons that extend beyond my journalism coursework.

This train ride becomes a reminder of being resilient and adaptable amidst a sea of constant change. It instills in me the importance of practicing acceptance and forgiveness, not only towards others but also towards myself, the very core of personal growth.

Lastly, irrespective of where we are, perhaps it's important to remember—in our hearts and minds—that even though conflicts and differences may be inevitable, acceptance and forgiveness hold the key to unlocking the door of harmony and tranquility. We are all passengers on this train of life, and it is entirely up to us to decide what kind of world we want to alight into—whether we want to hold onto resentment or to unwaveringly strive for understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness.

Tags: introspection acceptance forgiveness oslo train rides acceptance and forgiveness conflict resolution

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