Conflict and its Resolution from a Shamanic Perspective

Guest post by Marina Sala, Director of Choice Conflict Resolution


Conflict offers an opportunity to learn, grow and ultimately choose which of the two wolves we wish to feed. It also enables us to understand how our thinking shapes our reality and affects us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

As human beings, our body, mind and spirit are intricately connected; dissonance in one area can affect our sense of vibrancy and bring about a state of dis-ease. So what happens to us energetically when we feed the wolf that creates discord in ourselves and our lives? What gives rise to this wolf in us?

The Emotional and Energetic Impact of Difficult Situations

Many learned responses originate in childhood and the formative teens; when they set into behavioural pattern they then tend to be carried into adulthood. These reactions are often formed during times of real or perceived shock and trauma in which our wellbeing and security felt hindered. Examples of these may be: a scolding from a parent or teacher, bullying, parental separation, bereavement and abuse.

Such events can bring about two very significant consequences:

  • Soul Loss
  • Assumptions about life, oneself and others

Soul Loss

No matter what one’s survival instinct may be to danger – be it fight, flight or freeze – the part of us that feels unsafe, will flee from the situation rather than face it head on. This is what in Shamanism is called ‘soul loss’ and is seen as a part of our soul splintering off from the whole. Soul loss can happen throughout our lives, though it is not necessary that every difficult situation will result in it. When it does, it can be recognized by a sense of feeling ‘not quite ourselves’ and off-keel and perhaps hankering back to a time when we felt good. Soul loss is not determined by the gravity of a situation, but by a person’s response to it.  It is reversible and these parts can be retrieved, but more on this later.

Assumptions As ‘Magnets’ 

As we flee from the specific danger, we also seek to make sense of what happened and form assumptions about life, ourselves and others.

Examples of assumptions are:

  • “Life’s a struggle/ fight”
  • “I’m not good enough”
  • “People can’t be trusted”
  • “Life’s against me”

As the Law of Attraction suggests, the more we assume something to be real, the more it becomes such. These underlying attitudes act like magnets that attract similar situations or personality types to us; how we respond either confirms or dispels the assumption. If we adhere to the assumption, the situation can trigger a conscious or unconscious memory and cause an Amygdala Hijack. Simply put, this is when our emotional responses bypass the reasoning part of our brain and convince us that we’re in real danger, prompting a fight, flight or freeze response.

Identifying and understanding our magnets can therefore open up the spectrum of our choices of response. But the question is: to what extent do we allow ourselves to believe these assumptions? And what tricks us into believing them?

Feeding the parasite:

Our thoughts and reactions can escalate or de-escalate interpersonal conflict. Besides acting like magnets, our assumptions  also function as energetic parasites.  Their raison d’etre is to convince us that our beliefs are real because the situations we keep attracting prove them to be so. When we hook into the stories and dramas, these then feed on our negative emotions.

In other words, when the wolf feeds us the fodder, we not only eat it, but also regenerate it by believing that it’s good for us and in so doing, keep the wolf well fed. As we get caught in this cycle, our vitality ebbs and dis-ease sets in.

Some alarm bells of such dis-ease, are feelings of:

  • emotional and physical exhaustion (despite good sleep)
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • mental anguish / depression
  • blame of another, the situation or oneself

Such physical, emotional and mental states, confirm to the aspect(s) that fled, that things are still unsafe.

The True Self, the ‘ego’ and power games.

In such a cyclical merry-go-round, one’s authentic spirit and nature, is silenced. Unlike the boisterous ‘ego’, our true self is humble and knows its own worth, it acts from a place of self-responsibility rather than blame. The gentle wolf is its ally.

Our true self is the part of us that escaped and often guards a particular quality that is innate in us and resonant with our vitality.

Examples of this are:

  • Trust
  • Courage and adventure
  • Playfulness

In order to reconnect to it, we first need to silence the negative thoughts and break the parasite-cycle.

Restoring vitality and rebalancing the scales:

The first step towards resolution is to identify the underlying assumptions from which one operates. This is done by introspection and healing work. This does not necessarily mean  undertaking an archaeological excavation of one’s past to remember particular incidents, especially if long-buried. What it does mean however, is simply reflecting from a place of self-responsibility and identifying the assumptions one is operating from.

From soul loss to soul retrieval:

When one sees conflict from the perspective of healing and learning, one can see the situation as an opportunity to break the behavioural cycles and dispel and transform the magnets that such assumptions are. In so doing, one can consciously separate oneself from the parasite and reunite instead to the true self.

During many years of working as a Shamanic Practitioner, I have had the honour of assisting people identify the core beliefs at an energetic level and retrieve soul pieces. These tend to return when they feel that things have changed and can trust that the situation won’t be repeated. While this is usually done through specific healing practices, retrieval can also happen through reality testing, such as:

  • What am I feeling and thinking at this moment?
  • Which of the two wolves are these thoughts feeding?
  • I am responsible for my thoughts, actions and choices; this situation need not be a repeat of the past

Reality testing helps us reconnect to the true self and steer us away from a cycle of retribution and blame.  In so doing we are sending two important messages to the parts that originally fled:

  • That we are not only the victim of a situation but can also be in charge of our responses
  • That life can be different and that we can be safe


Choice comes with awareness. Our dis-ease can remind us of our freedom to choose our response. Imagine your hands as a set of scales; hold them out and consider: ‘Vitality’ or ‘Feeling bad’ about oneself and life. These hand scales are the external image of the inner dynamic between the two wolves.

Approaching conflict and its resolution from a holistic perspective can help us choose whether to remove and dispel the magnets and pay attention to our body.

Our sense of vitality or dis-ease can serve as a reminder to check our thoughts; where are they taking us?

Which wolf are they feeding?


marina-sala-lorezMarina Sala is Director of Choice Conflict Resolution, offering Mediation, Coaching and Conflict Resolution Skills Training. She is a CAOS Conflict Management trained Conflict Coach as well as an accredited mediator. She also works as a Shamanic Practitioner for adults, young people and children.

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