Conflicts are the very essence of our life. At every juncture, each one of us has experienced a conflict- be it at home with family members, at work, with romantic partners or even strangers. These conflicts help us grow and evolve but they also keep us stuck, compel us to compromise and worse of all they can cause us extreme mental drain.
A conflict is basically a fight or an argument wherein two or more people disagree on a matter. However, conflicts are caused due to a multitude of issues. Most prevalent are misunderstandings arising from an inability to put forth points correctly or assuming things. These are a cause of minor fights. But chief among the causes for major fights are old wounds, trauma, or leant patterns from childhood.
On the face of it, fights or conflicts may seem very trivial. It might even start of like – “you never remove the trash!”, “Why do I have to always do that?”, “why didn’t you answer my call?” but are arising from deeper issues. These deeper issues are the very root cause of our troubles, although they’re cloaked as situational problems.
For example: “Why didn’t you answer my call?” can have its root in childhood emotional neglect or abandonment. The old wound surfaced as one accusing the other for not answering the call, which resulted in the other defending himself/herself only to cause a bigger fight. However, without addressing the underlying cause of say neediness or abandonment, we’ll keep repeating this situation in numerous different ways- each of them leading to a painful compromise.
So when we end up in a conflict, it results in one of the following two outcomes:
- Fight – argue about the problem with bringing up the past- come to a conclusion/ root – resolve
- Fight- blame/ hold up emotions – build resentment – repeat issue in different ways
So how do we tackle conflicts in a way that they resolve once and for all?
The best possible way would be using the A option (as mentioned above) but it isn’t usually the case. To break this cycle of repeating seemingly similar conflicts without a compromise is to use the following:
This is a marvellous technique that gives us a bigger picture in one sentence. The “I” statements are nothing but statements beginning with an “I”.
- I am feeling ……… because of …………
- When I heard you say …………. It made me feel…………….
The reason these statements work as a charm is because it takes away the whole blame-game and focuses on how it made you feel and what caused it.
It immediately deflates the situation and forces the person in front to consider what you are really saying with a new found perspective.
We all want to be validated and understood without being judged, given advice or asked to change. And empathy allows us just that. It is basically just relaying the person’s feelings back to them.
For example- You and your spouse fought over someone not answering the call. Instead of blaming the other person or asking them to change, try saying “I understand that you’re feeling targeted and blamed for not answering my call. However, what do you suggest we do now?”
Relaying what they’re feeling makes them feel understood and takes the attention back to the issue rather than playing the ego and the defences.
Developing curiosity about our own wounds:
Ask yourself some very pointed questions like “what did that make me feel?” or “what about that situation caused me to get so defensive?” or “What made me react like that” or “when in the past have I feel this way and what need of mine is surfacing here?”
These questions help us delve deeper into our own issues. And when we become aware of our issues, we can consciously alter our actions, perceptions and finally the outcomes.
Visiting a therapist:
A trained professional will always be able to help you uncover parts of yourself that are holding you and your relationships back. They will do so with empathy, without judgment and organically lead you to better perspectives. And don’t we all deserve to be understood? Therefore, vising a therapist could be highly beneficial.
Our emotions have a funny way of deceiving us. What might seem like anger on the face of it, might actually be an unmet need, an old wound, a childhood experience that left us wanting appreciation, or even our own guilt and shame that we don’t ever want to reveal. Once we reach the roots, we grow as people and better our relationships. When we heal, we help others heal!