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Conflict Series #2: How to Deal

“How to Deal” is the second part in a three-part series on Conflict. If you missed #1, hop on over and check it out.

In Part One of this special conflict series, I illuminated a paradox in our lives- as women we’re often taught to avoid conflict lest you be labeled a bitch, overly emotional or too needy. But there are really healthy outcomes to conflict if we use an approach that is built on open-hearted communication.

But what does that actually look like?

The first thing we need to do when we’re feeling a conflict creep into our lives and our relationships is to get curious.

Notice how it’s often just a small event that tips us over the edge? This is because this is often something in our system that we’ve been soothing or ignoring over time. The event that made us explode isn’t the core issue, it’s something more.

As I mentioned before, this ignoring/soothing pattern is in place for a reason- it has served us well in our lives. But each conflict presents us with a new opportunity to be more skillful in conflict and lean into solving, rather than continuing our perpetual cycle of suffering.

The only hard part about this exercise is to actually catch oneself before the ‘blow up’. It requires mindfulness and a resistance to simply reacting to the situation in front of us.

We pause. We breathe. We reflect. We act. 

What am I really upset about? Am I feeling unheard/misunderstood/insignificant/unsafe? What is it that I truly want? Is this actually true? What do I need to remedy this? Is it something I can give myself, or do I need something from someone else here? And then, act accordingly.

Here’s the hard truth: sometimes conflict in our closest relationships are about someone else and how they are treating us. And sometimes, the conflict is really about ourselves and how we’re treating ourselves.

How do I know this? Because I learned this the hard way, babes. When I was feeling stagnant in my life and choices, I would turn to my partner to blame him for the lack of excitement in our lives. When I was feeling like my life was out of control, I tried to control my partner. When I felt not enough, I became a stage-four-clingy-jealous-insecure monster that judged everything he said or did.

I took my whole pile of unresolved issues and I shoved them into our relationship in a super-fun-passive-aggressive- ticking-time-bomb way that really, really sucked for the both of us + nearly destroyed our relationship on many occasions.

This is not to say that he was always perfect and that my feelings weren’t justified. This isn’t a way of excusing and allowing ourselves to be treated poorly. There is a fine line between mindful curiosity and taking radical self-responsibility and a very cunning path to soothing. It is up to us to discover where that line is.

And because we are both constantly evolving beings, just when you think you’ve got the habit nicked, it shows up in a new and exciting way.

So we remain curious. We keep leaning in with an open heart. We keep showing up in love.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and if you have any further questions about conflict. Let me know in the comments.


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