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How Conflicts Can Improve Your Relationships | It’s a common misconception: Conflicts are bad. They feel icky. Arguments end poorly. But what if conflicts can improve your relationships? Keep reading to learn more.

Growing up, I heard my mom say that a conflict-free family is a happy one.

She played the peacekeeper, putting her needs aside and mediating between stubborn loved ones. 

She did what she could to keep us afloat emotionally. But the misunderstandings accumulated anyway and created walls within the family.

I didn’t learn how to resolve conflicts in a healthy way when I was little. (Who did?) 

Instead, I learned how to silence myself, prioritize others and sacrifice my needs. So as an adult, my relationships unsurprisingly limped along with codependency.

One friendship after another dwindled and my marriage was falling apart—all due to bad boundaries and intense disputes. If I wanted to save my marriage, I had to change my mindset about conflicts and learn how to navigate them. 

I thought, “Okay, conflicts happen. Avoiding them worsens things. How can conflicts help our relationship?”

This is what I’ve learned during the last 15 years…

Conflicts are normal

It’s a common misconception:

Conflicts are bad. They feel icky. There’s always a winner and a loser. Arguments end poorly.

Let’s scrap those ideas. What if we approached conflicts differently? 

Perhaps conflicts signal a deep unmet need, like feeling valued? Maybe disputes can bring about mutual respect and tolerance? What if they were opportunities to bond with loved ones? 

We encounter so many emotions during a conflict: fear, anger, frustration, rejection, abandonment, isolation. What if they could guide us toward our inner growth and wisdom?

This would imply that each person remain open and receptive to their own inner experience, while also making room for the other person’s feelings.

Sometimes, listening to others with differing beliefs or experiences may make us feel vulnerable or unsafe. How many of us can hold two (or more) juxtaposing perspectives with no judgment?

It takes tremendous courage to settle disputes in such a collaborative manner. Maya Angelou said, “Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.”

We can all learn how to leverage conflict to improve our relationships—and even make the world a better place.

Managing our own emotions

To resolve conflicts, we must become highly aware of our emotions and learn how to manage them.

Taking responsibility for our emotions is a hard truth to swallow for some. Yet we can’t control another person. If we try, we’re giving our precious power away. 

Managing our reactions is much wiser. 

If your emotions feel like a tsunami, that’s the perfect time to acknowledge them with EFT Tapping.

Tapping on certain acupuncture points, while focusing on difficult emotions, hushes the mind and reduces anxiety: Even though I feel so angry right now, I deeply accept myself.

Where do you feel the anger in your body? Even though I feel this anger in my jaw, I deeply accept myself.

Connecting with yourself through EFT helps you focus inwards and recognize your needs. Once you feel calmer, you can communicate your feelings and empathize with the other person.

If we don’t meet our vulnerability, we risk saying or doing something disrespectful. We can get caught in the fight-or-flight reaction and enter a self-protective mode. Collaboration is nearly impossible when we’re defending ourselves or controlling others through threats, intimidation or punishments.

Sometimes, we feel the need to yell to get our point across. Though our anger is valid, we shouldn’t be surprised that the heat of our emotion teases the fire. We’re human, after all.

Arguing with compassion is a humbling act.

We’re constantly wrestling with the part of us that needs to be right and seeks certainty in an uncertain world. 

At the heart of our most difficult feelings, each of us has a vulnerable core that deeply desires to be seen.

If we can recognize our own vulnerability in our “opponent” and offer ourselves the safety we seek, conflicts could be one of the most powerful modalities we have to evolve.

Benefits of healthy conflict  

Unfortunately, not everyone is ready for such an immense task.

We have to choose our battles wisely, as they say.

According to this Psychology Today article, conflicts that are resolved in a healthy way can increase closeness, intimacy and safety in relationships. 

The mutual respect and understanding reduce anxiety and fear in future disagreements. Each person feels free to express their emotions, knowing that they’ll be validated.   

Meaningful and open discussions encourage cooperation and strengthen the relationship. 

Sometimes, we learn that we have a boundary when it gets crossed… 

In the moment, it might seem okay that your partner didn’t do the dishes, though you both had agreed on specific chores. Then, you realize that something is off—a queasy feeling in your stomach or a tightening in your chest.

You might try to ignore it, but the resentment builds. It may sound ridiculous to get upset for such a small issue, but there’s much more happening underneath.

This is the pivotal moment: Are we able to meet ourselves exactly where we are? Can we make room for these feelings, no matter how illogical they seem? 

Because each emotional trigger is guiding us toward a part of us that wants to be heard. Perhaps this part of us fears rejection and abandonment. We must first listen to our internal stirrings and learn how to express our needs.

The more we do this inner work—ideally, alongside our partner, friend, parent—the easier it becomes to discuss prickly issues. This builds trust in the relationship.

Ultimately, you can use conflicts to propel your inner growth and improve your relationships. What’s more, we model healthy conflict resolution for our children and descendants.

Imagine what would happen if we applied this humility and openness toward our neighbors, between cities and nations?

The choice is up to us

“Every conflict we face in life is rich with positive and negative potential. It can be a source of inspiration, enlightenment, learning, transformation and growth—or rage, fear, shame, entrapment and resistance. The choice is not up to our opponents, but to us, and our willingness to face and work through them.” —Kenneth Cloke

Conflicts are a part of life. How we resolve them makes all the difference.

Peace is possible when we have the courage to embrace our vulnerability. We can learn how to befriend our emotions, identify our needs and gracefully express our concerns.  

This humbling process develops our empathy for others and opens us up to differing perspectives.

And by building this safety and support within, we gain the resilience to deepen our care and compassion for one another.

Want some free support?

I’m offering free EFT Tapping sessions in exchange for a short interview via Zoom.

I enjoy connecting with other women and learning about their challenges related to confidence, boundaries and relationships.

In the first 15 minutes, I’ll ask questions like “How did you discover me?” for new content ideas. In the last 15 minutes, you’ll get an EFT session to feel calm and clear. (Yes, things can shift that quickly.)

This offer isn’t a discovery call, where we discuss my paid services. It’s a fun opportunity to connect and support each other!

If you feel inspired to work with me, we can book a free call to make sure we’re a good fit.

I look forward to connecting with you!

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