If you are as old as me, perhaps you remember the song, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”? Breaking up is hard to do, but so is making up. I am not talking about the positive warm feelings that often flow after you make up with a friend or moreover a lover. I am talking about the actual “making up process.” Talking about hard things is difficult. So is saying “I’m sorry.” But doing the hard work and having the difficult conversations in relationships is what keeps them going. It is also what makes relationships last in the long run as we learn to better listen to and understand one another. After all, we all want to feel heard.
The best way to avoid making up is learning your “emotional hotspots” and communicating well (mostly by listening and clarifying) as I covered in last month’s blog. But, even if you learn to identify your hotspots or “touchy subjects” and even if you lean in and try to listen well, conflict will inevitably occur at some point. It is simply part of life.
Conflict or what I like to call “potential conflict” comes dressed in various ways. Conflict arises when people are stressed and tired and misunderstand each other. Conflict sneaks through in the form of sickness and pain when we say things we don’t really mean or say them harshly because we simply don’t feel well. Potential conflict can come in the midst of stressful life events such as holiday dinners with difficult family members, end of life discussions and wedding planning. These types of situations don’t always involve conflict, but they possess the power to unleash it. And, if you aim to discuss these potential conflicts (as you should) before they hit full force, these discussions can create their own sort of conflict. For example, if my partner and I are headed to a family reunion where I will encounter a troubled family member we may discuss this before we leave. And, if we have different opinions about how we should interact with said family member, my partner and I may get into a heated discussion or even an argument. The potential conflict becomes its own conflict.
The first step in learning how to manage conflict is accepting that it will arise in one form or another throughout your various life seasons and situations. Conflict, like change in life, is inevitable. The second step is knowing how you will manage that conflict in the best way possible when it does arise which I will speak to in the personal blog on this piece.
For now, if you are struggling with communicating well with others at work or home or if you and a loved one seem to have reached an impasse about a particular problem or issue, a trained and seasoned licensed mental health counselor can help you. An Orlando psychotherapist can provide the psychoeducation, practice and support you need to successfully manage conflict in your life both now and in the future. If you need support in this area, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our trained therapists.