Resolving conflict doesn’t only apply to conflict in marriage or in our love life. It applies to every relationship in our lives. Last week when I wrote about the journey to self care and self love I said we learn to interact with people simply by interacting with people. You can read the full post here: https://samjerry.com/self-care-self-love-a-beautiful-and-worthy-journey. As long as we are interacting with other people we will need to be able to resolve conflict.
If you grew up in a healthy environment where people talked things through and sincerely listened with the objective of resolving the issue, then a heartfelt congratulations. You, thankfully, are so much further along on this journey.
However, if you tend to take things personally, have trouble seeing the part you play in the conflict or if you feel that things are always your fault then you understand that resolving conflict can be tricky.
Before confronting any conflict ask yourself what result am I looking for? Resolution and understanding? Or is it so I can be right or prove a point? Is my goal to be vengeful or cruel? Always check yourself in the mirror before you walk out the door.
First Things First Take Out The Emotions
I believe a huge component in resolving conflict is removing emotions from the situation. Wait! I know, hear me out before you get emotional and click off the page.
Think about it, when we are emotional, we say things and we think thoughts that aren’t relevant and that are often not even true.
ac-ces-so-ry (noun) a thing which can be added to something else in order to make it more useful, versatile, or attractive.
Synonyms include: extra, addition, add-on, appendage, attachment.
Think of emotions like they are accessories. Yep, you read that right. Emotions are earrings, bangles, belts, jeweled necklaces, and worn out baseball hats. All the accessories!
Just like in the definition above, emotions, like accessories are meant to be added to a moment to make it more useful, versatile, or attractive. Emotions are to be extra, an add-on or an attachment to the moment. My personal favorite to say is that emotions enhance a moment.
When we react emotionally the result is often confusion and more emotion. Which leads to either causing or receiving more hurt, because the saying, “hurt people, hurt” is the truest of the true.
And just like great aunt Edna who wears every piece of jewelry she owns all at once so that you almost can’t see the outfit she is wearing so too is it when we come from a place of raw emotion. It makes it hard for the other person to see the “me” in the situation. The me who is hurt or wronged or misunderstood. The “me” who stands vulnerable and unsure.
When we take the raw emotion out of the situation we can begin to objectively look at the situation and evaluate the different components of how we got here and how to come out of it understanding one another and feeling stronger for it.
Let’s Talk About It
com-mu-ni-cate (verb) to share and/or exchange information, news, or ideas (thoughts and feelings).
Communication is another important component of resolving conflict. The clue to the whole communication thing is the action it takes, to share or exchange. The action of communicating suggests taking turns, one at a time.
Unfortunately, communicating and listening are not one and the same. Listening is like a subheading under communicating. I will attest, through my own trial and error, it is much easier to listen when we take the emotion out of the situation. And then, this one is hard hard hard, listen for the purpose of understanding. I didn’t say listen to agree. I said listen for the purpose of understanding.
If you want to be heard and understood then you must be willing to stand in a place of empathy.
Emotion and Communication Converge
When we communicate with our emotions in order we have the opportunity to do an amazing thing. We have the opportunity to process the emotion instead of just feeling the sting of the emotion.
Meaning, the communication of “That hurt me” becomes “When you said that I felt rejected and used and I want you to know so you see why I haven’t called you in a while.”
Or the communication of “I am angry” becomes “I told you a private matter and when you told other people I felt mocked and exposed. I felt I could trust you.”
We become defensive when we are hurt or when we have been wronged and of course, we should defend ourselves, but often, being defensive means we strike out. Communication is lateral. It is an exchange.
As to the other side of communication, speaking. Speak to be heard. Be clear in what you are saying and how you are saying it. Do not call names or yell. That solves absolutely nothing!!
Another hard part of resolving conflict is owning the part you played in the situation. Even if you have been wronged own the part you played in the situation.
Acknowledging that you can see how your actions could have been misunderstood or confessing that yes, I did gossip about you behind your back is simply just owning your shit. There are two sides to every. single. thing. in. life. For every action there is a reaction. Maybe your reaction wasn’t healthy, own it. Maybe your reaction saved the relationship, own it.
Own your shit and deal with it. I mean that in a very real, “own where you are” type encouragement.
You can’t get past it if you can’t look at it and call it what it is.
Once you know what you feel, you communicate it by speaking clearly. Next you listen objectively and with empathy to understand. Now what do I do with it?
You process it. What does that mean for this relationship (work or personal) from here on out? Do I need new boundaries? Can I get to a healthy side of this hurt? How do I feel about this now that I have all of the information?
You learn from it. So easy, right? Listen, we either learn from it and make adjustments or we go through the same situations again and again. Often with different people, but the dynamic is the same.
So many times a conflict isn’t even about you. Sorry to possibly burst your importance bubble but maybe it isn’t about you at all. You may simply be a result of someone working out a jealousy issue or an abandonment trigger.
Another part of the learning is learning to let go. It is possible to resolve a conflict with someone and never have anything to do with that person again. It is perfectly healthy to say I forgive you and I take ownership of the part I played in this and I hope you have a great life.
Resolution isn’t always tidy and orderly because there are personalities and people at different stages of their personal journey involved.
Letting go also means letting go of the emotion attached to the other person. You may say, “But, Sam, I dislike that person. They really hurt me and wronged me.” And you are right, maybe they did. But why continue giving your precious energy to the situation?
If I have resolved an issue then it’s over. Done. Next. Don’t give it the energy. Give your energy to people and things that will help you grow. The best way to help yourself is to help others. Pour your energy where it does good, for you and for others.
Process it, Learn From It and Let It Go
The opposite of love is fear. I don’t want any of us to live in fear. We fear we are going to be hurt again by that person. We fear that
Fear keeps us from communicating. The fear keeps us from living a fulfilled, abundant life. Fear is also just an emotion. By learning to resolve conflict in a healthy way we set up boundaries for how we allow people to treat us and how we allow their actions to affect us.
I have learned all of this through trial and error. I am in no way saying I have it figured out, but I try on the daily to listen to understand, to speak to be understood clearly and I also try to own my shit.
Do you see yourself here? How are you doing with resolving conflict in your life? I’d love to hear from you.
Be You – Be Beautiful – Be Imperfect