Conflicts suck, they really do, but they help us grow into better, more understanding and well rounded human beings. These are some things I’ve learned through conflicts or others conflicts that have helped my approach and personal happiness in these difficult situations.
It is so important to be careful and mindful in how we respond to others in difficult situations. I understand that most of the time these difficult conversations and conflicts can come out of nowhere and we are left either like me speechless because I need to give myself time to process OR we respond emotionally too quickly and find ourselves regretful or remorseful later on. Luckily at a young age I learned to hold my tongue and allow myself time to process each situation. Sometimes it can take two days other times it takes a week. In the past, I’ve even found better responses months later after the situation had already passed. Those I believe we tuck into our pockets for future reference. In most cases, I have found that these three things are full proof in dealing with unfortunate situations, conflicts and confrontations.
First, understand that words are like airplanes. They can change course quickly and cause a lot of confusion, when we let our words spill from our mouths without intention our conversations can get lost and emotional very quickly.
Second, intention, the most important part is to lead with kindness always. I find I have never left a conversation or looked back regretful when I chose to speak from a place of kindness. If your intentions are good then your outcome, at least on your end will be good too.
& Third, Equanimity: mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. I know when things get emotional it can be extremely difficult to remain calm, cool and collected. BUT, remember our reaction to things is not anyone’s fault but our own. We have the “choice” to feel how we feel. Someone did not make you feel bad, you chose to feel bad. Someone did not make you raise your voice, you chose to. When we lose our temper, words fly, the conversation changes drastically and we really lose out on the opportunity to make a relationship better and also ourselves as we grow in difficult times. I know this can be a really hard reality to grasp at times but perceptions is everything. Remember to always hold your own inner understanding that you are the only one in control of your choices to feel, behave, and act each way. It’s okay to mess up and it’s okay to fail at this, I believe, like all things it takes practice and patience with ourselves. Remaining calm in the face of conflict, listen to the other person but don’t allow yourself to absorb their negativity. There is this old quote I learned in grade school, “Anger is like pee in your pants, everyone can see it, but only you can feel it.”
Those three things have never failed me. Throughout college and then my entrance into the “real world” I have always held strong to good intentions, found peace in leading with kindness and power in remaining calm.
My Personal Conflicts and Their Results: I know in my life I have struggled with holding my tongue too much for fear of saying something that will hurt someone else or saying something I’ll regret. When a person says something to me that I react to negatively I often remain quiet because I am trying not to absorb their words, but this isn’t always easy, I often still feel hurt. When you are faced with this type of situation respond with, “Can you help me understand what you meant by that?” This is a great way to respond with kindness. Give them room to explain what they said and in turn maybe you’ll learn that what they said had no negative intentions or they’ll realize what they said wasn’t very kind. In turn, you (hopefully) will have taught them that speaking to you that way won’t result in anything positive. For me this lesson came when I was hanging out with some old friends and one of them told me out of the blue that I just need to (insert rude comment). My first thought honestly was (you can take the (insert rude comment) right out of my house) but that wasn’t going to end well so instead I remained calm and quiet. Still hurt but quiet I really struggled with how to respond. Shortly there after I had concocted in my mind some cockamini reason as to why she would’ve said that, that maybe my bf was unhappy and maybe he said something about it….(insert emotional roller coaster). My mistake I absorbed the comment and then allowed myself to further investigate it and feel bad about it. She very quickly after realizing my change in attitude apologized for her words. However I still left feeling conflicted. That’s when I came up with the very simple,”can you help me understand what you meant by that?” concept and it’s helped me a lot. Full proof to open up the floor to talk about it in a non confrontational way. If you are ever faced with this try out that question and see where it takes you. I have always found especially in the recent years of my life that as long as you lead with kindness no regret comes. In my 24 short years I haven’t had too many conflicts come up but of recent there were a couple. The first a very unfortunate one, with a lot of conflicting personalities. I responded with kindness and tried my best to explain a positive way to turn out the situation keeping perceptions of others in mind…. (This made me feel good ((which is really the most important thing)) but did not turn out the way I’d hoped in the end.) When that happens it is absolutely okay, we can’t change people we just may learn we aren’t compatible and we move on. Hard truth but true nonetheless. The second, was a conflict I had with my Dad’s wife while he was in the hospital, really difficult/emotional time for us and I ended up giving myself a week to breathe and process before responding and then we had a peaceful conversation about how we both felt and how we could handle the situation better in the future. Totally successful, at times Dr. Phil esque if you will but successful. We have to understand that everyone is allowed to feel how they feel, and be how they want to be. Don’t absorb another persons negativity watch it pass by like a moving car and understand that it is no ones fault but their own for feeling how they feel. Our perceptions lead us everywhere we go. Once we understand that, it is much easier to try to see things from another perspective and work together to solve the problem. Leading with kindness and finding inner peace in conflict with equanimity is full proof (at least for me).
I hope this helps in any way. The world especially lately has taken a sad tragic turn and each of us has the power to help and set a better example.
Below are two great articles that speak on the power and practice of both choosing kindness and equanimity.
Happy Holidays, remember these things if you get sucked into an unfortunate holiday political talk with family this year. Hopefully not!