Day 83: The 3 Ways to Deal with Conflict

Conflict is part of everyday life.  We have conflicts with our children, our coworker and within ourselves.  In today’s day and age, conflict is looked down upon and people who confront this conflict are looked at as complainers.  It is unhealthy to hold on to negative emotions but it is also toxic spew negative energy at someone.  Where is this happy medium?  

I have had many conflicts ranging from being removed from a community theatre board, being taken advantage of by a person representing himself to be a saint, had a friend directly steal from me and conflicts with family members.  Do I let these experiences hinder my life?  No.  Do these people have any power over me?  Perhaps. I work hard to release myself from the negativity but running away from negativity only brings it closer to you.  Through my life experience, I noted three things that help me move on from conflict.

1. Decide if the conflict is worth confronting.

In today’s world, everyone gets offended at anything.  I’m not invalidating someone’s opinion, however, I feel that we have put on our sensitive hats a little too tight.   Follow the rule:  if it’s not nice, don’t say it.  This is different when I see someone abusing another person or I am witness to some sort of injustice.  Deciding if a conflict is worth confronting is a personal choice.  The word ‘choice’ should not be looked over.    

‘If you are fuming over something that someone said, something on social media or in your local news, take a moment to acknowledge why this disturbs you.  Most of the time, I try to ‘sleep on it’.  If I wake up the next morning still feeling emotions of negativity, I decide to confront it so that I can start the process of letting it go.  If I’m not thinking about it, with mindfulness, I let it go so that I don’t save it for the next time I run into a conflict with the same person.  I don’t gossip about this so that I can process my emotions on my own.  Most of the time, the person that you are in the conflict with has moved on or has no idea that they cause a conflict in the first place.

2. Meditate on Your Feelings

With social and work schedules, taking time to think about our feelings isn’t a very high priority.  It is important to separate the behavior from the person.  Also, looking at what really happened in an event-by-event sort of timeline will help you to understand where the seed of conflict started to germinate.  When we do this the conflict becomes manageable and more simplistic. 

Understanding our emotions and the triggers that set off ones of a negative nature is helpful in emotional intelligence and maturity.  If you have time, sit in a  quiet room and start to observe your breath.  Once your breath is slow and deep, start to replay the events that happened in the mind like watching a movie.  When we are watching what happened, we can normally see things that we couldn’t see when we were in that moment.  Presence of mind will help you achieve clarity.  This will help you in your communication and confidence when you need to confront that coworker or family member. 

3. Forgiving and Forgetting

While we often say that we forgive and forget, it is rare that we honestly forgive someone.  Forgiving someone is actually forgetting what we need to forgive them for in the first place.  When you say, ‘Yes, I forgave that person.’  recalling the incident in which you forgave them in the first place.  This is not forgiveness.  This is why forgiving and forgetting go together.

You hear people say that it is easy to forgive but harder to forget.  If they haven’t forgotten, haven’t forgiven.  We all have those horrible experiences that we can remember like it happened yesterday.  These can be experiences all the way from childhood.  These emotions are harbored in our cells at a molecular level.  For healthy cells, work on getting rid of these emotions not for the sake of getting rid of them but to make you a healthier person on a cellular level. 

Conflict sucks.  There is no other way to say it.  No one wakes up in the morning and says that they can’t wait to piss someone off or make someone’s day horrible.  I used to think that there were a group of people that did exactly this.  After years of working on myself, even those people have become human to me.  They all have their reasons or no reasons at all.  We can’t control other people’s actions or words, but we can control our own.  If we spew out positivity and forgiveness, think of what this world would look like.