Divorce | What No One Told You About Conflict In Relationships

by Lori A. Grover - Date: 2010-09-19 - Word Count: 840 Share This!

Many people lack a real in-depth understanding of what conflict really says about a person and conversely, they mistakenly believe that when conflicts arise they are merely the result of two or more people who disagree about a particular issue. In reality, the causes of conflict go much deeper and are rooted in our own feelings of emotional security or lack thereof, which is a product of the conditioning we receive from an early age to hide our true selves out of a fear of rejection. When you add these two factors together, the result is an internal contradiction in how we should communicate and we are prevented from expressing ourselves openly and honestly while also being mindful of how we deliver our message.

So instead, we hide behind polite responses, agree simply for the sake of peace keeping or refrain from expressing our true feelings which only keeps the conflicts we ignore active within ourselves and bubbling just below the surface ready and waiting to be triggered by the next event that pushes our 'hot button'.

As children we are taught to regulate our behavior in socially acceptable ways, we are told that big boys and girls don't cry and that we should not say things that will make others feel bad. While it is true that we must be sensitive to the feelings and opinions of others, there is a measurable difference between social etiquette and diplomacy and being unable to express our thoughts and feelings. This inability to communicate effectively can only be traced back to our early programming and the deficit it creates in the conflict management skills department.

It is unfortunate that, in spite of our incredible technological and scientific advances, we are still willing to accept such inadequate communication and problem solving skills as just another part of life in spite of the evidence that doing so does not serve our needs or interests nor the needs and interests of anyone else. Instead, our tendency is to utilize the same conditioned responses to conflict, expect different results and become more unbalanced when our conflicts are not resolved - which according to any dictionary is the true definition of insanity!

If we want to avoid being victims of conflict and resolve them when they arise in our day-to-day lives, it requires that we take a deeper look into ourselves, our programming and our tolerances and, we must be willing to let go of our preconditioned responses which in turn will alter our behaviors and our reactions.

When conflict is responded to with more conflict, the cycle perpetuates and the gap between the disputants continues to widen. Why? Because as I stated earlier: All unresolved conflicts lie just below the surface. Whenever a conflict arises it doesn't matter whether the disagreement at that moment involves the same person or issue from the last conflict we encountered, our defensive button has been pushed and the situation at hand likely deteriorates. This true inner working of conflict may be unlike any other explanation you may be familiar with, but it speaks to the true nature of conflict, why it continues, how it can escalate and the damage it causes to relationships. What is important to understand is that if conflicts are not resolved in a manner that is acceptable to the individuals involved, whether through compromise, agreeing to disagree or involving a neutral third party to inject another point of view, there will be no closure. This is how the cycle continues.

If you have ever had a disagreement with someone and out of nowhere they begin to pull in issues that happened a month, a year or even three years ago, you are witnessing their unresolved inner conflict and the lack of personal power and control the other person is experiencing within themselves. Suppressed conflicts are always looking for outward expression and quite often it doesn't really matter how or when they come out. This is why responding to conflict with more conflict can not only be dangerous; it won't resolve anything.

So if you are confronted with conflict does that mean that you should not defend your views or position? No, it means that you must be aware of your own feelings and responses. The caveat here is that there is a bit of an art to disarming and resolving conflict which lies in actively listening to what is really being conveyed, not what you think you are hearing and, this is the important part, controlling your tendency to react or respond defensively, which will only escalate the problem. The more effective approaches are to revisit the situation when everyone is in a calmer state of mind or agree to discuss the situation with neither person assigning blame nor punishment to the other. And yes, this does take personal discipline, self control and some practice at first, but over time not only will conflicts lose their emotional charge over you, you will find that you are able to see them coming and take steps to avoid playing a role in perpetuating the vicious cycle.

Related Tags: divorce, divorce advice, divorce mediation, divorce lawyers, divorce help, mediation

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