Dealing with conflict is probably at the bottom of most people ‘s lists. It’s uncomfortable and requires vulnerability. We all carry dysfunction and unresolved issues, and I venture to guess that MOST of us have not had positive role models growing up showing us how to stand up for ourselves and, most importantly, how to repair.. Who wants to rock the boat when it’s “easier” to just go with the flow and dance around an issue? The truth is that these unresolved issues create both internal and external clutter, stress and disease. Finding a way to address these skeletons in the closest requires curiosity, commitment and support. If these issues are not addressed in a relationship then overtime it erodes even the strongest of foundations.
A willingness to let go, is probably at the top of the list when it comes to transforming resentment. If we are not able to let go of what happened then there is no moving forward with new insights, beliefs, connections or repair.
How many times have you found yourself saying, “well you _____ last time, so I”m not going to____.” What’s underneath this statement is a natural, yet unhelpful sense of wanting to be right,win the battle and get back at the other person. Relationships are not a battleground and when we view them that way it only creates an ongoing war between you and the other person. Bringing up the past only taints the present moment and doesn’t allow for a shared understanding and clarity on how to move forward.
What causes conflict?
When there are misunderstandings.
People view the world differently and describe similar points of view and situations using different words, analogies and phrases. It’s important to get clear on what others are saying so that you can be sure that what you are understanding is accurate.
2. Repetitive disappointment.
How many times has someone you love promised you something and then yet again they don’t follow through with actions and changed behaviour? This affects the ability to trust the other person, their words and even apologies become meaningless. This brings on a sense of hopelessness since change seems impossible.
3. Triggers and flashbacks.
Triggers bring us back into the past and can keep us trapped in a flashback. This could last minutes to weeks. It’s important to understand what you are feeling and what you need. Especially with recurring conflicts we are often acting from a reactionary place of the past instead of consciously trying to address something in the present moment.
4. Sense of unsafety.
When one or both people feel unsafe the walls of defensiveness come up and the game is over. In a defensive state we become mean, we blame, gossip, want to run away or we freeze up. In this protective mode, weare operating from the sympathetic nervous system. In this state problem solving, showing compassion and active listening are impossible.
5. Disrespected and dishonored
Being disrespect, and dishonored can further create separation and disconnection in any type of relationship. It means, receiving the message that you are not valued, appreciated or accepted for who you really are. This is a sign that things have gone overboard and escalated to a point where there may be name calling, insults, harsh sarcasm, threats and yelling.
6. When our needs are not met
This is a common one where people become resentful, angry and depressed. It’s important to know what your needs are, express them clearly and check with the other person to see what their capacity is to meet those needs at any given time. Otherwise, you will have unrealistic and unclear expectations that can lead to further resentments for both parties.
When these types of conflicts occur we feel unsafe and tend to doubt ourselves, mistrust the other, see them as the enemy, experience fear about the future, and become dysregulated. It’s likely that you experience one or more of these types of conflicts creating a messy mesh of compounded issues and stress.
With ongoing unresolved conflicts and disagreements you probably are left feeling emotionally unstable. Being in this state makes it challenging to make clear decisions based on your values and soul purpose. This also pulls you away from yourself and creates a disconnection between your mind, body and spirit. For example, if you have an ongoing argument with your sweetheart about who does the dishes, plus constant bickering about how you spend money, you are likely to look at other interactions from a lens of anger and resentment.
How does anger turn into resentment
Anger is a normal and healthy human emotion that signals a boundary has been crossed, you are in danger or you’ve been wronged in some way. It tells you action is needed. It’s a flash emotion that if you express and clear it, it goes away quickly. It’s when you hold onto it or keep it in, that it turns into resentment. Most of us have not been taught how to deal with anger in a healthy way so we live with many resentments that drain our energy, make us heavy, bitter and focused on what we don’t have or how we’ve been wronged.
What does this do? Well, it changes your body, cells, energy, mind, spirit. It slowly eats away at your entire being. It affects all of you and all areas of your life. Resentment is the most destructive force in any relationship. It’s been shown that resentment is a major cause of cancer. Imagine how powerful your emotions are that they can make you sick and kill you. AND the amazing news is that you have the power to transform and let go of emotions energetically. If they can make us this sick and wipe us out, learning how to harness the power of all emotions can also change us for the better and live with meaning and soul purpose. I’ll get to that in the next blog. First we will look at how to repair a relationship after there has been a disconnection.
Phases for to reconnect after a conflict
Conflict – there is a misunderstanding of some sort that causes a break of connection between two or more people (as shown in the section above). This can either shift quickly with someone stepping up and calming the situation or move into the next phase of disconnection.
Disconnection – Here there are very little means of communicating in a loving way. It’s when that wall goes up and there is attack or defensiveness from one or both parties, a sense of unsafety and even mistrust. This disconnection can last moments to years if the issue is not resolved.
Understanding and ownership – The most fundamental piece in creating connection and peace after an argument is that there needs to be a shared understanding of what happened. Now, this doesn’t come easy for many and it could even start with an effort to understand and then acknowledge your part (even if you don’t fully understand how your actions were harmful). What creates a massive shift is being willing to listen to how you affected the other person and letting them know you want to find ways to create a safe, loving relationship.
Action and agreeing – Words without actions become more broken promises. Be open to taking small steps towards change and together creatively collaborate on how you can move forward, how you will check in and how you will both be accountable to this new path. Part of taking action is also agreeing how you will move forward and more importantly how you will better communicate if there is a misunderstanding.
Reconnection – Once action has been taken and you agree on how you will approach things moving forward, even if you don’t have all the answers, a sense of safety is recreated. This safety allows for a reconnection and to be in rhythm together again. It means that both people feel safe now and that the lines of communication are fully open again in a loving way – enforcing the safety.
This is a very quick overview of how to reconnect in a loving wayIt can be daunting and scary AND also liberating and to create the deepest and most meaningful relationships you’ve ever had. When we have that trusting and safe relationship with someone we can grow and learn about ourselves, our most important healing happens in healthy relationships with others. I’ll be providing more guidance and options in part two of this blog as well as a mini course coming out this summer!
I’d like to finish off with a reminder that even when we have understanding, awareness and some acceptance of a situation we can still have resistance to change. This “trap” happens for many reasons. For one the brain is used to the same chemical combo and changing means changing that combo. The brain and body want the same status quo because it’s safe, familiar and comforting even if it’s causing you harm and is keeping you stuck in the past. We all need a little push every now and then and to tell ourselves, no! Just do it! To keep us moving in the direction of being clear and acting from our hearts instead of our heads.