10. The Meaning Of Chocolate Cake – Understanding Conflict Resolution

Have some chocolate cake.

What’s the celebration, is it your birthday?

No, it’s just chocolate cake.

Yes, but why are you offering me chocolate cake, it must mean something to you?

No, it’s just chocolate cake.

But people don’t go around offering other people chocolate cake without a reason.

No, it’s just chocolate cake.

Please tell me the meaning of this chocolate cake. Is it your birthday, your anniversary, your child’s birthday, did you get a promotion, are you leaving us?

No, it’s just chocolate cake – but what does it mean to you?

Well, now that you are asking me, will you also ask other people in the room as well?

Yes, but let’s start with you first.

Okay, well chocolate cake reminds me of when I was four or five. I had a chocolate cake as my birthday cake. We played with balloons, a clown did funny things and it was my best birthday ever.

Oh, so when you have chocolate cake you allow your inner child to emerge and remember, however fleetingly, what it was like to simply have fun and laughter, no responsibilities, no tears, only happiness. That’s nice to hear.

Would you like some chocolate cake?

No thanks, I’m watching my figure.


Because chocolate cake will go straight to my hips.

So what?

Well I need to keep looking slim.


Not that it is any of your business, but my partner likes me slim.

It’s not only my choice you know.

Why not?

Well I’m not getting any younger and I need to look good.

Would you prefer to feel good?

Of course, but I’d feel guilty if I ate chocolate cake.

Is feeling guilty better or worse for you than feeling good?

I’m scared to feel good when I’m really feeling guilty.

But it’s only chocolate cake – not poison. Ever thought about asking for a sliver of chocolate cake to make you feel good, one mouthful, without feeling guilty that it’s going to your hips?

Would you like some chocolate cake?

No thanks.

May I ask why not?

I’m sorry, I can’t explain, it’s too personal.

What can be personal about chocolate cake?

Well, it brings back bad memories.

But it’s just chocolate cake.

Well you see, when I was a child my mother baked a chocolate cake for my father’s birthday. I remember putting all the candles on the cake. My mother, my brother, my sister and I waited for my dad to come home from work. We waited and waited and waited. He eventually came home long after we children went to bed and I heard my parents screaming at each other. My father sounded drunk. He pushed my mother’s face into the chocolate cake and one of the candles that I had put on the cake went into my mother’s eye and blinded her for life.

I am so sorry. I did not think offering you chocolate cake would unearth such horrible memories.

Suddenly this chocolate cake took on a mirror effect. Was it a chocolate cake or was it peoples’ feelings about themselves being reflected in something as innocent as chocolate cake?

Why did the first person need chocolate cake to release their inner child and give themselves permission to have fun, laughter and happiness? What is stopping them from having fun, laughter and happiness, releasing their inner child, at all times?

Why did the second person feel guilty? Why do they feel guilty, about what – and who did this to them? How is this guilt being reflected in other areas in their daily lives?

Why did the third person take responsibility for the loss of her mother’s eye when she simply decorated a birthday cake for her father’s birthday? What else has she taken responsibility for in her life, unfairly, and how unhappy has this made her?

So, the bigger picture here is that, although it’s only a simple piece of chocolate cake, it has substantially different meanings to different people.

The relevance of the meaning of anything is the relevance you give it!

What appears to be a catastrophe in your life is a walk in the park for someone else. What is a simple thing for you to deal with is a nightmare for someone else.

The only meaning that anything has is the meaning you give it.

So when you have a point of view, simply express it with the meaning it has for you. Don’t defend it – simply state it. If someone else attacks your point of view, then their Ego is talking. If you counter attack them, it’s your Ego talking. From there conflict emerges and you both lose. Even if you win the argument, you damage a relationship. For every winner there must be a loser in an argument.

Would it not be preferable to express your point of view, the meaning it has for you? Listen to, acknowledge and respect the other person’s point of view, the meaning it has for them.

You then say “Thank you for pointing out another way of looking at this issue – it broadened my horizon’s.

What do you think the other person is going to do? Thank you and move on together is most likely.

Even if they say “See I’m right”, you can shrug your shoulders and say “Probably” because you know you have a choice – either you can be right or you can be happy, but you can’t be both.

If you are right and they are wrong, you have won an argument but damaged a relationship. Does that make you happy now? If it does, then you can’t have too many friends so losing another one makes it a slippery slope to unhappiness.

At a more spiritual level, we are all One with God. So if you win and someone loses, then you lose too because you are both part of One.

Back to the chocolate cake issue at hand.

If something as trivial as chocolate cake can evoke such human emotions, feelings and different meanings, can you imagine how real emotional issues such as love or fear can have different meanings for different people?

It’s time to acknowledge that the only meaning something has is the meaning you give it now. The only meaning something has for someone else is the meaning they give it now.

As you expect your meaning and interpretation to be understood, acknowledged and respected, so you must understand, acknowledge and respect someone else’s meaning and interpretations of the issue at hand.

That’s how you learn to live and let live.

Would you now like some chocolate cake?

Yes thanks.

No thanks.

I respect your decision, honor you for it and wish you well.

RESPECTRecognizing Each Soul Politely Ensuring Correct Tribute

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