Conflict is often something that we seek to avoid or that we experience as negative in our life.
Some of us develop different styles of managing conflict – not all of which are healthy for us or
the people around us. These styles can develop for many different reasons, often as a way to
protect ourselves – whether that’s by being aggressive and “on the offense”, being defensive or
indirect, or by suppressing our own needs almost entirely.
Ultimately, though, we want the conflict to accomplish something, usually. You might want to feel
heard. You might want to feel a sense of control. You might want help with something. What’s
important to remember is that depending on the way each of us acts during conflict, we change
the outcome for everyone involved.
In other words – the way we show up in times of conflict can either be healing for ourselves and
others or re-traumatizing for both parties. Regardless of momentary frustrations or hurt, in the
big picture of our life, we don’t want to re-traumatize ourselves or those we have relationships
with. It’s not helpful or beneficial to anyone really – nor does it feel good.
So what does that mean? That means, we have to do what we each can do to contribute to
healthier conflict in our lives, even if the other person is not yet doing that also. By controlling
what we can (our own actions), we set a good example, we build our own skills in
communication and awareness, and we respect our own relational values and goals.
Conflict doesn’t always have to be bad!
We can choose to show up with love, with compassion, and with respect. We can establish our
boundaries firmly and clearly, but also approach conflict with the goal of trying to heal together,
as part of a relationship with another person. Whether that relationship is romantic, familial, is
with a coworker, or a friend, when we show up in a thoughtful and healthy way, we can be a
source of healing for one another! And that’s amazing.
Take some time today to think about your needs, your triggers, your boundaries, and where you
struggle in moments of conflict.
What can you do to create a healthier “conflict zone” in your relationships? How can you better
respect your boundaries while respecting the importance of healthy communication?
If you need help or support with this, we are here for you. Your therapist is a great resource –
never hesitate to let them know what your goals are.