OH! Magazine - Australian Version October 2018 - Page 6

( EMOTIONAL FITNESS ) CONFLICT & WHY THERE’S SO MUCH Heidi Di Santo explores conflict and how to deal with it. hether it be with your children, friends, spouse, wider family, neighbour or workmates, conflict is inevitable. Being human means that you’re going to cause or get hurt in relationships and this can happen intentionally or unintentionally. But regardless of how it occurs, ‘hurt feelings matter’ and problems arise when these feelings get ‘swept under the carpet’ and ignored. W Conflict is normal and actually very healthy in relationships because it brings issues out into the open to be aired and hopefully resolved. When relationship conflict arises, it can go one of three ways: 1. It can end the relationship because people aren’t able to work through their hurt. 2. It can strengthen the relationship and take things to a whole new level; or 3. The relationship can become superficial. parts (within you) and pretend that everything is okay. This creates disharmony inside, because these hurt parts just want to be understood and respected (by you). Then, the process of suppressing them drains you of energy. In my experience, this ‘suppressed stuff’ is often at the root of things like anxiety, depression, addiction, overwhelm and burnout. Sadly, many people haven’t yet made the link between mental health problems and relationships. And it’s not just relationships with others that I’m talking about. The relationship you have with your own self is also critical. Unfortunately, many people continue to interact with others in ways that are hurtful to both their own self and other people, so it’s time we all learned a more authentic way of being in relationships, which ensures that conflict can be successfully resolved. Here are the main reasons conflict doesn’t get resolved: 1. Taking offence and becoming defensive Unfortunately many people don’t have the necessary skills to work through issues. Growing up they’ve been taught to ‘keep the peace’ and ‘be nice’ but this approach is a recipe for disaster in terms of creating authentic connection and conflict resolution. It also means they take option three from above, which can be detrimental to one’s mental health. You see, when you ‘put on your mask’ and continue on in a relationship without having resolved the conflict, you’re forced to suppress those hurt 6 OH! MAGAZINE ( OCTOBER 2018 ) When someone confronts you about an issue, they’re doing so because they feel hurt and they value the relationship enough to bring it to your attention. Being loving isn’t about always being ‘nice’, it’s about being ‘real’; and the truth is, it takes someone who really cares to step out of their comfort zone to bring it to your attention. Often the confrontation is done out of anger or sadness, but you must realise that the person doing the confronting is usually coming from a place of pain. Sadly, many people become very defensive when they are confronted and they go into ‘ego-protection mode’, justifying and rationalising their words and behaviour. But, this isn’t a loving thing to do because it makes the issue about you as opposed to them. Remember, they are confronting you because they are hurting. In valuable relationships, it’s important to stay open when someone confronts you, despite how uncomfortable this might make you feel. Because when you work through all the emotion, you’ll always come back to love, and ultimately a stronger bond. Unfortunately many people are unable to do this because they get triggered and go into their ‘own stuff’ and this defensiveness closes them off to authentic connection and finding a resolution. 2. Black and white thinking Taking an ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ stance is at the heart of every conflict of war. But in order for relationships to be strengthened via conflict (and take the second option), both parties need to be able to see the ‘shades of grey’ in life. Unfortunately, many people go into their ‘own stuff’ as mentioned above, which prevents them from staying engaged. 3. Lack of empathy ‘Understanding engagement’ as opposed to ‘judging disconnection’, is critical for healing. Sadly, many people don’t possess the skill of empathy, which is being able to step into the other person’s shoes and see the situation from their perspective. An example is